Louisville Rapper Channels Pain Through Music After Discovering He Was Adopted


Imagine waking up one day at 17 years-old and discovering that your entire world as you know it is an illusion. You are told that the people you’ve called mom and dad your entire life aren’t actually your biological parents. To make matters worse – you are told that your biological mother is serving a 30 year prison sentence for bank robbery and no one knows who your biological father is.

Sounds like the narrative of a Lifetime movie but this is actually the story of a 19 year-old rapper named Destin Yates from Louisville, KY. Yates grew up in a middle class neighborhood and for the most part experienced a pretty normal childhood. He attended Valley High School – was an above average student who played on the football team – and enjoyed rapping as a hobby during his spare time. All was good in his world until an in-law broke the news to him during his Senior year of high school that he was adopted.

“I found out that I was adopted at the end of my Senior year. I found out that my mama wasn’t really my mama and that hurt me. My aunt that was married into the family told me – which is bad. I don’t think she should have done that. Once I found out – it slowed me down in life a lot because I found out she [adoptive mom] was hiding everything from me.” – Destin Yates

Naturally Yates immediately had feelings of confusion and betrayal but anger also formed. He questioned the woman he knew to be his mother – searching for answers. She informed him that his biological mother’s name was Jessica and as the result of a severe drug habit – she was serving a lengthy prison term for bank robbery. His adoptive mother and Jessica were good friends and she would often babysit Yates when he was an infant. Jessica was arrested one day while her friend [his adoptive mother] was babysitting so she began the process of legally adopting him.

While meeting with Yates he explained to me that his adoptive parents are now divorced and his adoptive mother was very strict on him while he was growing up. I immediately recognized an “old-school” upbringing in his language and mannerisms. He was very polite – well spoken – and answered every question with “yes sir”. His demeanor pleasantly caught me by surprise because I was expecting the gangster persona that I heard on one of his rap songs.

Yates Profile

Initially our meeting was supposed to be an interview about his aspiring hip-hop career but it changed course after I sensed the pain in his voice regarding his adoption. He claimed that emotionally he was fine but I could tell otherwise and decided to probe a little further in hopes of offering him some guidance. As we talked – he began to feel a little more comfortable and started to open up.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

“Knowing your last name is not Yates but you thought it was – that hurts man. That’s crazy. Me and my mama argue a lot now but I feel like we’re getting stronger but it could be stronger. We still argue about it [the adoption] but I still love my mama. I haven’t been home in I don’t know how long. Well – we talked the other day but that was my first time being home in I don’t know how long – probably about 3 or 4 weeks. When I go over there that’s all we talk about and I don’t like talking about it. – Destin Yates

Yates went on to say that he loves his adoptive mother very much and is grateful that she adopted him but he wishes that he wasn’t lied to or at least was told the truth about his situation earlier in life. He says that she now thinks that he hates her – which he says is the furthest thing from the truth – but his anger surrounding the ordeal has caused their relationship to become estranged as of late.

He has also discovered that he has a biological sister and the two have periodically kept in touch. She has a relationship with their biological mother and often visits her in prison. His sister’s desire is for Yates to become a part of their family and she has invited him to visit their mother in prison. I asked him if he thought meeting with her would possibly bring him some closure and assist in the healing process and he emphatically replied that he has no interest in ever meeting “Jessica”.

“I don’t like to call her my mom – no offense – I like to call her by her name – Jessica – because that’s not my mama. I feel like if I talk to Jessica I’d just get mad. My birth sister invited me to go see her the other day and I didn’t want to talk to her [Jessica] at all – not at all. She didn’t raise me. I haven’t reached out to her and I don’t plan on it either. The story gets deeper but I want to save that for the music part – I’m going to put it in a story on my mixtape.” – Destin Yates

Yates has been interested in music since the sixth grade but didn’t take it serious until he was in high school. During his freshmen year he began recording music and later performed during a pep rally at his high school. He has a passion for music but his strong upbringing keeps him grounded as well. Understanding that a successful career in the music industry is a risky goal – his plans have always been to attend college and major in mechanical engineering.

Yates Pep Rally

Following his high school graduation in 2014 – Yates was so emotionally overwhelmed with the discovery of his adoption that he decided to postpone attending college for a year but insists that his head is clear enough to begin this Spring. He has spent the past year and a half working at UPS and working on new music.

In August 2015, he collaborated on a song called Computers with fellow Louisville rapper Fonn The General. The song and video were very successful on Youtube but served as a bitter-sweet moment for Yates. Although he’s appreciative that his verse on Computers earned him many new fans – he wished that the popularity came from a song with a different concept. Computers is an edgy street song which is vastly different from the typical music that Yates is used to recording.

As I listened to the music on his Soundcloud page it became apparent that Yates is a versatile artist that embodies many styles. His stories are personal and offer a refreshing alternative to the “trap music” that dominates the airwaves these days. His descriptive lyrics allow the listener to enter the mind of Yates and virtually experience his world.

The way he uses music as a vessel to express romance – pain – and struggle are reminiscent of the rap styles of Wale and J. Cole. If he is able to overcome the obstacle of his adoption and continue to use music as his form of artistic expression – I see great things on the horizon for the young rapper.

Yates is releasing a mixtape on January 14, 2016 called “Dream City” on his 3T Entertainment record label. Although the entire project is not based on his adoption issues – he does address the matter artistically on certain songs.

Yates Dream City


Follow Yates on Soundcloud at LilYates00 and on Facebook at Destin Bread’Winner Yates.

Yates describes his feelings about his home life and adoption on the song “Burning Down” listed below. WARNING: The song contains explicit lyrics.


Brad Harrison is a journalist/motivational speaker/entrepreneur and on-air personality. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications with cum laude honors from the University of Louisville. In October 2015, he started UrbanMaxx Magazine to provide positive role models for Urban residents that reside in at-risk-communities and lack positive leadership in their lives.
For booking or advertising – contact Brad Harrison at bradharrison@urbanmaxx.com