[INTERVIEW] Doctor Yizzle on Being An Independent Hip-Hop Artist, TikTok, and Overcoming Adversity

An up-and-coming artist out of California, Doctor Yizzle is bringing a new approach to the rap and R&B community. If you have browsed through TikTok in the last few months, chances are that you’ve heard of him through his newest single, “I Keep Calling.” With songs like Dark Knight” in his repertoire, Doctor Yizzle brings not only talent but also strong lyricism to the table. His songs cover a range of topics including love, loss, and being proud of where you come from. 

Michael Yi, also known as Doctor Yizzle, was born to Korean immigrant parents and raised in Los Angeles, where he learned to make music in the living room of his one-bedroom apartment. Striving to become the best he can possibly be, the young artist taught himself how to engineer, make beats, and to hone his craft by meticulously studying wordplay. Taking such genres as hip-hop, alternative rock, and lo-fi to create a sound all his own, Doctor Yizzle has accumulated over a million streams throughout various music services, taking his career to new heights. 

The Kpopconcerts team had been given the opportunity to sit down with Doctor Yizzle to talk about his musical journey, TikTok, fighting stereotypes, and more. 

Korean American singer and rapper Doctor Yizzle
Cr. Doctor Yizzle

KPC: Hi Doctor Yizzle! Thank you for allowing us the time to interview you! For anyone that has not yet heard of you or your music, can you tell us a little about yourself? 

Doctor Yizzle: Hello! My name is Michael but I go by Doctor Yizzle as my stage name. I was born and raised in Koreatown in Los Angeles, California. I produce, write, and engineer all my music (except production from ‘98 to Infinity) which I take the utmost pride in due to the fact that I am self-taught. I mainly rap but I also sing because I believe melodies are a universal language that everybody in this world can resonate with. The main element I implement into my music is my pure energy and soul which I intend for my listeners to be able to feel as well. I make every genre from hip-hop to Indie rock and I plan to touch upon every other genre as my career progresses. I am going to change the world and leave only a positive impact on people that connect with me and my music.

KPC: You were raised in Koreatown, Los Angeles to immigrant parents from Korea. Can you tell us a little bit about life during your childhood and how you fought through stereotypes growing up?

Doctor Yizzle: My childhood was filled with joy and excitement of being able to explore my city through various activities such as basketball, soccer, capture the flag, PC cafes, etc. As a kid, I was very violent and always got into fights, I did not let anyone mess with me. I was a very skinny Asian kid who dressed funny (my mom would dress me) so I think that would immediately spark the stereotype that I was weak and easy to pick on. Therefore, I always fought back to prove that I am not like those stereotypes and that I cannot be tested like that. I grew up in a one-bedroom apartment with my parents and brother which was hard to live in when I was a kid because I was very active and was always told to be quiet.

My main passion was basketball where I actively pursued a career in it. I went to the parks which were filled with other minorities however I encountered very few Asians. This prompted people to pick me last or to heavily underestimate me because of the stereotype that Asians are not deemed to be athletic. This only ignited me to work even harder at becoming the best at basketball. I eventually got to the point of becoming really good through tedious hard work. I always had the mindset to become the best at whatever I do due to how competitive I am. I translated this into my music. 

Korean American singer and rapper Doctor Yizzle
Cr. Doctor Yizzle

KPC: You secretly stole your brother’s iPod and came across an Eminem song. How did this instance shape you as an artist? 

Doctor Yizzle: The song is called “Rock Bottom” and the moment that I had first listened to the song is why I am pursuing music today. The chills I got from listening to the song even when I couldn’t directly relate. I felt his pain which is the element that I give the most priority to when I create today. If people could feel my emotions when I was recording or writing the song, then I created a great song. In that song, you could feel his misery and how he was just tired of the world around him. He was once at the moment in his life where he was worried about whether or not he was able to feed his daughter and not being able to buy presents for his daughter. Look at what he did for the world after. His story inspired me and taught me that anything is truly possible. 

KPC: What artists do you draw inspiration from when creating your music?

Doctor Yizzle: Since I cover a lot of genres, I got a plethora of artists/bands that inspire me when creating. But the main ones TODAY would be XXXTentacion, Kanye West, and The Kid Laroi. But earlier influences are The Beatles, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Eminem, Nas, Lil Wayne, Drake, Tablo, etc. I could go on and on. 

Cr. Doctor Yizzle’s Spotify

KPC: You began your journey as an artist through YouTube in 2017. What has your journey been like so far? How did COVID affect your journey? 

Doctor Yizzle: Wow. It’s been that long. My journey has been filled with more lows than highs but that is how it always will go when you are pursuing a career in the entertainment industry especially when you are building from the ground up with no connections. Most importantly, I have helped people. I’ve gotten messages from people about how much I’ve helped them and even got ones where they told me I am the reason they’re living. THAT is the reason I keep going and will forever continue to do so. However, trust me. This journey has been very hard and challenging but it will always be worth it. I only become better at my craft and you could hear that if you go back to my SoundCloud days. 

COVID did not affect me at all because I don’t go to the studio to make music and I wasn’t doing any shows during that time. I was/am focused on making the best music possible. 

KPC: What sparks your creativity? Who do you hope to collaborate with in the future?

Doctor Yizzle: My community. I get to put out my thoughts and have people hang onto every single word. My desire to help people through my music and have people not feel alone. I also want to change the lives of those who supported me and my loved ones. This is the only thing I will do and pursue in my life. 

I hope to collaborate with Sabrina Claudio, Benee, Brent Faiyaz, Kanye, Lil Baby, BTS, Blackpink (Lisa/Jennie), Dean, Bibi, Miso, Epik High (Tablo), The Kid Laroi. 

KPC: TikTok has been a more recent way for artists to get their music out to the public, with your song “I Keep Calling” being on the platform, how has TikTok helped your career? 

Doctor Yizzle: TikTok has been everything to me. It has helped propel my career to a whole different level. I used to be one of those artists who were like “TikTok is corny,” “I don’t wanna be known as a TikTok artist” but I got into it and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I am still actively connecting with my audience on it and still searching for that viral moment. It will happen. So thank you TikTok! 

Cr. Doctor Yizzle

KPC: What do you like to do outside of making music? What hobbies do you have?

Doctor Yizzle: I do not do much but create music. But my two other passions are definitely playing basketball and video games. One day, I will stream very actively on Twitch/YouTube playing my favorite games and connecting deeper with my audience. I am constantly following the NBA and one day I will also pursue some sort of career in that. But I also love every other sport! I grew up playing every single sport so if anyone is trying to catch the smoke in any sport, hit me up. Oh! I love animals. I really want a puppy or some sort of furry friend… 

KPC: What has been your favorite song you have made thus far in your career? Can you take us through the creative process of that song? 

Doctor Yizzle: This is a hard one. But if I had to choose, my personal favorite song would be “M.O.B.” When initially creating the beat, I fell in love with it. I approached this song wanting to have a laid-back, chill guitar sample with a bounce that had aggressive trap drums. Then I heard it all together and was thinking I should write the opposite of what this beat conveys. Along with that, I was thinking that I should bring that aggressive energy to my vocals. So I did just that. I wanted the ending to be euphoric and almost like an ending scene moment to a movie. I wanted to express how focused I was on creating the life I always dreamt of and that no girl could come in between that. 

KPC: Asian culture has been in the spotlight lately with K-Pop entering the mainstream music scene. Which K-Pop artists do you look up to? What makes them stand out to you as performers?

Doctor Yizzle: Specifically in K-Pop, I am a fan of BTS, Big Bang, Blackpink, GOT7, NCT127, Wonder Girls, and Aespa. I’ve been to two BTS concerts and I got to say that attending those concerts made me appreciate their talent way more. Seeing them dance and sing/rap, it bewildered how they were able to do that so perfectly without making mistakes. Also seeing the fans and how much they were so entranced by the performance which I hope to replicate one day. It surely inspired me to hone my craft much more and work even harder. We know how much these K-Pop acts work and I started to question myself, am I putting in the same work? Definitely not. With that mindset, I naturally started to work harder. BTS makes such different music from the other K-Pop bands and I truly love their infectious melodies and how much they actually care about their artistry. The same goes for the other K-Pop acts I’ve listed. Immense talent. Love how much they are doing not only for Koreans but Asians, in general, worldwide. 

Korean American singer and rapper Doctor Yizzle
Cr. Doctor Yizzle

KPC: It can be difficult to be in a music scene that is so widely based in a different culture than your own. Has it been difficult to navigate through the hip-hop scene as an Asian artist? Did you ever consider moving to Korea to continue your journey?

Doctor Yizzle: Very good question. It has been difficult navigating through the hip-hop scene in America but I’ve almost used this disadvantage to my advantage. There is a huge audience now for Asian American artists due to how widespread K-Pop has become, as well as everything that 88rising is doing. However, there have been instances where I felt like I was not being taken seriously as a hip-hop artist due to my physical appearance. That does not stop me nor has it ever stopped me. I am on a mission bigger than my music and myself. I am going to break the stereotype that Asian people can’t rap or that we can’t do many things such as sports. I love the challenge and being the underestimated person. Always have. And I will always 

I have never considered moving to Korea because I have set my mind since I was a kid to make sure that the Asian American youth believe that they could do whatever they set their mind on in America. I want to set an example for that group. Also, I fell in love with American hip-hop and always saw myself in that culture of artists. I connect with it the most. 

KPC: What do your friends and family think of your career as a hip-hop artist in America? 

Doctor Yizzle: My parents support me as long as I am making a stable income off of it. Of course, since they are from Korea and never seen Asians in the media in America, they were doubtful in the beginning. But as my career is progressing, they are definitely becoming more supportive. I know deep down they think it is impossible, but I am going to prove them wrong and make them the proudest parents ever. My girlfriend supports me so much, my friends also support me, and there are a few of those but their support has been evident and is very significant to my growth. 

Korean American singer and rapper Doctor Yizzle
Cr. Doctor Yizzle’s Spotify

KPC: What impact do you hope your music will have on your listeners? 

Doctor Yizzle: This question is the most important to me. The impact I hope to leave on you guys is that you would be able to find the confidence to be anyone that you want. You could literally do anything you set your mind to. Believe in yourself more than anyone. You have a gift you are meant to share with the world and you are meant to use it to help the world. I hope you could use my music as a vessel to help heal your soul and find peace. Spread love and positivity. 

KPC: What goals do you have for yourself and your music for the near future? 

Doctor Yizzle: I am going to take over the world. I am going to make the best music possible. I am becoming better musically and as a person. I am going to reach the final evolution of myself. I know my potential and that is what gets me going every day. I know how good I could become at making music. It’s a journey but I am forever on this path. 

KPC: There are highs and lows in every journey and we appreciate the time you have taken today to talk to us about yours. If you could give any advice to people who may be wanting to take the same path as you have, what would you say to them?

Doctor Yizzle: If you really want this, you will have it. Listen to yourself and your instincts. You HAVE to have tough skin and you will face so many “no’s”. This will take a toll on your mental health and you have to make that sacrifice in order to be great. What is real will prosper therefore if you truly really want this, you will have it all. Your mind is the most powerful weapon that you will ever possess. Use it. Affirm yourself. Stay grounded. Be good/nice to people. 

Doctor Yizzle has only just begun his journey to the top of the charts. He remains true to himself and in doing so, became a source of inspiration to others. Thank you to Doctor Yizzle for having taken the time to speak with us here at Kpopconcerts! We wish him the best in his continued journey to take over the world with his music!  

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