Brandon Farris, a Sarasota rapper who goes by the stage name YB, says the past year and a half of his life has been about one thing: "taking things to the next level." As a husband, as a father, as the chief executive officer of his own label, Bold Records, and as an artist. "I'm just hungry," he says over the phone one recent morning, in the middle of a tour to build buzz for his new LP, Fire & Desire, which comes out today, Wednesday, Oct. 9.
Over the past few years, Farris has steadily risen in the world of Christian rap, self-releasing several albums, touring and maintaining a social media presence to connect with fans. His YouTube clips have racked up hundreds of thousands of views and he boasts nearly 19,000 followers on Instagram. Christian rap is normally seen as a world apart from mainstream pop music, but the success of rappers like NF, a Christian rapper who has released two No. 1 albums in the past few years, shows that it's not the niche it once was. "People are embracing Christian rap way more than they were five years ago," Farris says.
Fire & Desire was recorded with a variety of producers, and largely carries forward with the buoyant trap sound showcased on Farris' last full-length, God Still Has Soldiers 2. His lyrics cover the struggles of sacrificing to make art and the trappings of success, and he raps with a flexible flow that bounces from introspection to despair to hyped-up in the space of a verse.
Farris is savvy about positioning himself as a crossover artist who can appeal to devoted Christians and listeners just looking for a hot tune, as well. Young artists like him aren't interested in delivering a "fire and brimstone" message, he says. "I stand for God, I love the Gospel," Farris says, "but I present everything as a conversation."
Watch a video for the album's lead single, "My Shot," here: