Josh “Yoshi” Abramovitz’s fondest memories as a kid include sneaking crayons, hand sanitizer and sugar packets into his brother’s water at restaurants while he wasn’t looking. The two hyperactive brothers would then perfect their curve balls in the West Island’s Lake Park, and beat each other up playfully in their basement in between slap shots at each other, aiming for each other’s knees and dreaming of Montreal Canadiens status.
It may be safe to say that the two brothers have acquiesced and quelled their wired ways over the years in favour of a more professional and collaborative approach. With Josh Abramovitz spitting fresh rhymes on top of his brother Rico’s classic rock and jazz-inspired beats, the only animosity this duo could possibly produce is a rap battle.
“As a kid, I was all about sports,” Abramovitz said. “But I never thought my future would be all about music.”
Whether you prefer to call him Josh, Abramovitz, or Yoshi, you’re probably wondering how the latter name emerged. Not to be confused with the Super Mario Brother’s character, Abramovitz’s moniker derives from his Hebrew name, Yoshua, which his grandmother used to call him. “My dad just twisted it up and made it Yoshi,” he said. “I would write Yoshi on all my high school tests. All my high school teachers and later elementary teachers would call me that.”
This marketing major at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business said that everything he’s learned in class about promoting, filming and advertising has structured his musical ambitions, and provided him with the tools to pursue his passion with sharper focus.
Abramovitz exploits social media as a vehicle to move him forward in the rap race. Thanks to his YouTube channel, Montreal Gazette columnist Mike Boone linked his track “Habs in the Building” in an article, Virgin Radio played a snippet of the track, and CJAD’s Rick Moffat expressed interest in doing an interview.
Having a sense of business literacy is not a common trait in rappers who don tilted Detroit Pistons hats and Reeboks, but Abramovitz sees rap as a chance to apply and become familiar with business concepts. “I’m learning about promotion, management, film and other things first hand through rap,” he said.
Abramovitz enjoys communicating to his peers through rap. “I think that people our age engage better through art,” he said, noting that the medium through which we convey messages are futile in comparison to what exactly we are trying to get across.
Montreal is notorious for its ever-emerging rap scene, but Abramovitz tries to stand out by talking about what’s real to him. “My childhood and the passing of time heavily influence my lyrics,” he said. He also aims to differentiate himself by filling up songs with puns and play on words.
His track “Grandpa Called” talks about the passing of his grandfather and describes the pain of losing a loved one, a universal emotion that connects him with his listeners. His messages of the passing of time and the longing for childhood’s naivetÃ© lend a familiar tone to a number of his songs, like they’ve jumped out of the pages of your own journal and into his vocal chords.
Abramovitz looks to his successful influences to help craft a style and flow of his own, and believes that a crucial part of finding yourself as a musician is learning from others and incorporating many styles into your own.
“As a kid, I had to sneak around to listen to Eminem because of all the swearing,” Abramovitz said. “I’m a big fan of Eminem, Busta, J. Cole, and Tupac, who were all able to tell a story and bring truth.” That, he said, is the quintessence of great rap.
It seems as though Abramovitz’s childhood set the stage for his rap career, his child-like, wide and bright-eyed demeanour propelling him deeper into the world of business to finally realize his goal.
“Hi, I’d like something that resembles that French Vanilla cappuccino thing,” he told the coffee shop barista, half-kidding, half-serious. His maturity hasn’t yet fully overshadowed his youthful sense of wonder.
Check out Abramovitz’s YouTube channel at Yoshi1681.