Dezzy Yates is an up-and-coming artist in more ways than one. He’s a rapper with a growing dance career. He’s out to tell stories of his personal journey, his city and of his savior.

Tales From the Checkered Backpack, which will include his recent single “Pallet Towns,” is his upcoming free album set to release next year. It will chronicle his personal journey and testimony of faith.

From 2011 to 2013, Yates carried a backpack containing everything from a Bible to comic books, condoms and his rhyme book everywhere.

“It’s a balanced journey of me coming to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior,” he said.

He’ll speak on his highs and lows from first experiences with hip hop and dance to identity, pornography addiction and sexual abuse as a child. His goals for the album are for souls to be saved and to inspire more people in Christian hip hop to address issues of abuse (and to get signed to a record label).

Yates was able to overcome the negative effects of sexual abuse through dance. He’s into styles like b-boy, popping, krumping and Memphis jookin.

He was one of 211 contestants that made it to Las Vegas on the current season of So You Think You Can Dance. He was “rubbing shoulders” with the best dancers from across the world and built connections with members from the popular Dragon House crew, Yates said.

When the judges asked him about his inspiration for dance, he gave his testimony and credited his talent to God. He spent a month preparing for the solo that would determine if he’d make it in the top 20.

Yates was the first to get cut, though.

“I came back home, and I cried,” he said. “I was very salty about it. But I went from crying to God to just worshipping him and thanking him.”

His audition wasn’t aired, but when he returned home, Yates was all over the promos. SYTYCD and Paula Abdul posted his photo on social media with the caption “He’s got that SWAGGER our judges know and love!”

Outside of music, Yates works at Game Stop and throughout his community as a dance instructor. He teaches hip hop at Elite Dance Academy in Phenix City, Alabama. Yates and his wife Brianna also do outreach through dance at Empowered Youth Columbus.

Fans will soon find Yates in dance videos with members from Dragon House. He’s planning a tour and will release two more singles from his album as well.

Download Dezzy Yates’s most recent project Another Day’s Work for free on