Sometimes things come full circle, and this second Q&A with YucciMane feels like that. Yu is still one of the dopest tweeters out there, and he’s still never had a wack tweet after years of putting in work. This time around, Yu takes us through how he’s changed, how Twitter has or hasn’t changed, how content has changed, his new podcast endeavor and a few other things. In addition to starting a new podcast, Yu has been busy with writing elegant soccer pieces for RealGM Soccer.
You can also check in on Twitter for podcast updates: Between Me and Yu.
My questions and responses will be in bold, and Yu’s answers will be in plain text. (All photos lifted from Yu’s IG)
How would you say the landscape of Twitter has changed since our last Q&A session?
When was our last Q&A?
I can’t even remember who I was back then. Before this interview, some person retweeted a tweet I sent in 2011, and I don’t recognize that person anymore. I guess that’s a good thing. To answer your question, I think you have to break it down into segments. How has Twitter changed? Well, it hasn’t really, outside of ads or cosmetic changes. In that sense, it might be the most consistent aspect in the last two years. Then we ask, how we’ve changed, and I think this is where you’d find the biggest leap – not just in people that you talked to that you didn’t talk to before, but even in the energy and the topics. 2012 might have been the last Twitter apex in terms of excitement and asking what it all meant that we were on this platform connecting with people from all over the world. Now, it’s just Twitter, it’s just what we do – it’s like being a professional where you have a deeper understanding, you are better at it, you are more efficient at it, but some of that wonder that made you look to it is gone. By now we realize that Twitter isn’t our salvation. But if you have a good tweet you can reach thousands of people, which is still meaningful and full of pathos.
You said you don’t even remember who you were back then. If you don’t remember who you were, do you even know how you’ve changed since our last Q&A session?
I think that not knowing how much you’ve changed is the ultimate sign that you’ve changed. You can’t distill it down to facts. You can’t say “Since 2012, I’ve gotten a new car, a new hat, read 4 books, watched “House of Cards”, moved to a new city”. It’s knowing how much you don’t know. And I knew that back then, I had to know. And now, it just flows through in the minutes that turn to hours that turn to weeks and months and years. People say that time slows down when you’re older. You experience so much more than you can remember or what you can bottle into neat moments like you could when you’re younger. The benchmarks aren’t there – you don’t graduate anymore, real life isn’t measured in semesters, and then the years just add up after you reach like 25 or 26 (that’s when I realized we stop celebrating our birthdays, it’s just another year ultimately). How do you measure life? That’s up to each of us. I can’t remember who I was in 2012, but those memories come to me in moments through small things like a retweet from 2011; then you move on.
I often think that the secret behind Twitter’s potential staying power over current and past social media sites is the way it connects people to ideas and news. What do you think the secret of its staying power is?
One is experiential, most of all for live events, especially live TV. When I’m watching sports, I have Twitter pulled up either on my computer or on my phone. It’s a part of the sports experience. If someone scores an important touchdown, you know your feed is going to be “SIDSFKADFKESJSE” but those cap locks somehow make the experience of sports too. We saw this even last night, when Arizona upset Oregon. A good number of my feed are Oregon fans, and the post game was a mix of sadness, anger, and wondering about the big picture of the program. You could have watched the game on TV. But if you just had a timeline of 500 people’s tweets, especially starting in the fourth quarter, you would have gotten an experience too. Then secondly, we put a lot of time and energy into Twitter – from relationships, conversations, and especially crafting our own identity. It won’t be easy to leave that part of ourselves behind.
How is it that you seemingly tweet less than ever before while also increasing the satisfaction you bring to followers?
Well first, let’s define “tweet less”. I’m still at 10-15+ tweets per day, depending on if there’s a game on. Secondly, let’s liken a Twitter career to an NBA player’s career. When you’re young and excited, you have all this energy to run around, dunk, and tweet. But as the years go on, you lose your athleticism, but you gain something more important: knowledge. You learn to pick your spots. So you might not score 28 pts on 8-20 shooting, but you can score 24 on 9-15, with more assists, more rebounds, and better understanding of the system. So who’s the better player? Going back to Twitter, I might be tweeting less (scoring less), but the rebounds, assists, and other intangibles that don’t show up in box scores are up.
It’s like going from Era 1 Cleveland LeBron to Miami LeBron, but that might not be fair because LeBron is an android.
I was thinking like a MLB pitcher. You start out throwing 98, but if you don’t know how to pitch, you won’t be effective. But then you go starters who are in their mid-30s, throwing low 90s (if that), but they know how to hit their locations, change levels, change speeds. It’s about the craft.
Your IG game is still one of the strongest around, and you’re doing that with an iPhone with about 300 lens scratches on it. Will you be upgrading to the new iPhone soon, or are you going to stay with the vintage, proven equipment?
The reason I love 2014 is that the iPhone 5 is vintage. But I have breaking news on the iPhone 300 lens scratch front. Instead of going to the mall kiosks, I went to a camera store that specializes in repairing lenses. The tech looked at it and concluded that the camera wasn’t actually scratched, and it’s just dust near the lens. So for $40, my iPhone pictures will be back to normal. On this front, I have two opinions. First, if I had camped out for the iPhone 6+ like I did two years ago for the iPhone 5, I wouldn’t be in this situation. Second, those scratches on the lens set my IG pics back a year. I didn’t create the moments on IG I should have. This taught me the valuable lesson that if I care about something, and that equipment is messing up, then take the hit and replace it. I was applying fantasy football ideology to the scratches, trying to overcompensate with a little here and there. But no, the foundation is wrong, and it’s costing time.
The iPhone camp out piece was one of my favorites from you. I tried to find an old archive, but I think Connor cleaned the internet of those old pieces. Scorched earth policy.
They’re still up at http://digitalrefrain.wordpress.com/. Those were the 2012 days, the first Q&A days, when we thought our blogging could change the world.
Dope. I think I went to Digitalrefrain.com and saw the domain was no more [I still couldn’t find Yu’s iPhone camp out piece, so check out his Yeezy 2 camp out piece to get a feeling for the grind].
Dane moved to Portland about 18 months ago, and we started watching games at this bar called Tennessee Red’s. That was our home base, from Blazer games to TNT Friday Night games to playoffs. After the season ended, we’d hang out and walk around Portland, go to Foot Locker, and talk about basketball, writing, and sneakers. He moved to Charlotte a couple months ago to work at Sporting News. So this podcast is capturing those conversations we would have had if we were driving around in my car on our way to a bar or to a sneaker shop. Our three topics of focus revolve around the culture of basketball – basketball itself, then basketball writing, then sneakers.
Can listeners expect guest speakers or questions pulled from Twitter?
Definitely on both fronts. We have a lot of writers in our Twitter circle and we want to highlight the journey of growing and improving as writers. When me and Dane talk about writing, it always goes back to structure – who has the best structure? How is it laid out? So we’ll place an emphasis on that. And Twitter questions are always welcome, especially in regards to writing and sneakers.
Nike continues to kill it with the Roshes, FlyKnits and a few others, but Adidas has been coming strong with this whole ZX Flux lineup. What do you think of these ZX joints?
The ZX are very comfortable and a very clean design, but they aren’t for me. The Boosts are a top 5 most comfortable shoe ever, but I want the RG3 trainer in the “Sprite” color way. With re-signing Lillard and getting the big three Nike designers on their team, Adidas had a Cleveland Cavs-esque summer.
Yeah, luring the 3 Nike designers away is big. Matt Powell pointed out that they won’t be able to start working for a year because of a non-compete clause, so it might be close to two years before we see something from them. Nike might hit us with something wild in that time.
Denis Dekovic was huge with Nike’s soccer innovation with putting flyknit on cleats. But Nike didn’t lose any of their basketball guys so they should still put out heat on that front. And besides, a lot of designers want to work with Nike. They’ll reload.
NikeID has always been great at harnessing people’s artistic eye in the name of individuality for the feet. Has Adidas surpassed that with the ZX Flux picture app? I think it might produce some of the best and worst shoes over the next couple of years.
People were talking about how they were going to make a ZX Flux with Nike logos. The picture designs for the ZX Flux could be (are?) amazing, and despite what I said about how the ZX Flux aren’t for me in the previous question, I want to make one of #soop. A pho sneaker, my dream.
What’s your favorite blog or website to get articles from right now?
Twitter first and foremost, as we said earlier. But this brings up a topic of how content, blogs, and websites have changed since 2012. A lot of the sites I read, like Grantland, Vox and MMQB didn’t exist then and are a byproduct of building around a superstar journalist like they’re the Lebron of writing. Is this where it’s at Doc? And there’s 538, The Upshot…is that the promised land, the highest that a journalist can attain?
I’m not even sure, but that’s a good breakdown of how things are presented now. Speaking of Twitter, we have to bring #ArticleSquad back to prominence.
More like #ContentSquad now
True, true. I still remember Tony Allen saying he’d be down to join #ArticleSquad but then never contributing.
Which books are you currently reading right now, and why are you reading them?
If I want to show people what I’m reading on IG, then it’s James Joyce – “Ulysses”. But in real life, I’m caught between two books. The first is “Savage Detectives” because of the way Bolano brings me into that world is very Murakami-esque, and I like strange, not quite of this world stories. Then secondly is David Byrne’s “How Music Works” because the more experiences I have in life, the more I realize that The Talking Heads and Byrne were trying to convey something more than music, something about the essence of who we are as people. I guess both novels, in their own way, are attempting this. I’ve also borrowed the Byrne book for about 1.5 years now. If I read one page per day, I can return it back to my friend by 2016.
What’s the most poignant movie you’ve watched recently? Let’s say this calendar year.
The most obvious is “Boyhood”; it invented its own level of poignancy. And that movie didn’t feel like three hours. “Frank” was up there too, since it included the myth of what a creator is, and how what we see as life in our heads is the opposite of how it really works in real life. Then I got one from left field – “Lenny”, which was the Lenny Cooke documentary. That one hurt in a way like “Boyhood”, but I think, despite Lenny Cooke not making it to the league, it had the happiest ending out of the three. It felt like Cooke had one great work in him – whether it was having a 10 year career in the NBA, or making a meaningful documentary – and he got it. He reached the top, so now he can have his peace and go on with the rest of his life.
Are you excited for this new Les Sins album due on November 4th? Les Sins is the the alternate stage name for Toro y Moi for those not in the know.
Yeah, you posted that on my FB wall. Why did he change his name? Toro y Moi is a really good name. There’s also a bunch of albums coming out this fall, from Kanye to Drake to Lil Wayne. This is Twitter’s moment.
He still goes by Toro y Moi, but he releases certain songs under Les Sins. They have a slightly different feel, but are still recognizable as Toro.
I like this Hypebeasting for you Doc.
SMH, no hypebeasting here bruh.
Nah, it’s cool. We all have our things, whether it’s beer or sports or whatever. People here were camping out for the opening of a Cabela’s. We all Hypebeast over something.
I can get with that logic.
Alright, I’m all out of questions. I mean, we could go on forever really, but it has to end somewhere so that we can begin again at a future date. Any parting words of wisdom?
Don’t lose yourself out there for retweets.
I’ll try to keep that in mind. Thanks for making yourself available for a Q&A again.