CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — Adam Yokum went from living in Whitmer, population 82, to now living in Los Angeles in order to pursue his music career. The 22-year-old singer, songwriter and rapper, says he began his love of music early—his father was involved in a bluegrass band, and his brother played classical guitar.

Courtesy Adam Yokum

He attended Harman School until eighth grade, and then began attending Elkins High School, where his music tastes eventually shifted into hip-hop and rap with artists like Logic and Eminem, but especially J. Cole, an artist Yokum still looks to as an inspiration.

“I live and breathe him, that’s who I try to chase as far as greatness,” Yokum said in an interview with 12 News. “When I’m singing, it’s a big list, I really like Dominic Fike, Post Malone, folks in that genre.”

Since Yokum moved to LA over the summer he immediately noted the vast differences between living in West Virginia compared to living in one of the largest cities in the United States. The traffic for one thing is “insane,” and just getting around the city can be an ordeal.

“If you want to go somewhere it’s like a whole trip, I might be out for hours at a time just to visit a friend,” Yokum said.

Of course, the benefit of living in a big city is you also get to meet lots of new faces every day. Yokum says he was lucky enough to connect with a group of individuals in the music industry he jokingly describes as a “West Virginia mafia,” people who are able to help him get his foot in the door of a lot of opportunities.

On the flip side of that, Adam says that when it comes to the actual music side of things, being likable is seemingly more important than having likable music.

“This industry is basically the only one where your likeness determines your pay or your success. Like if you’re a doctor or an NBA player, it doesn’t really matter if people don’t like you, if you’re really good, you get paid. But with music, it doesn’t really matter if you’re good at music or not, it depends on if people like you.”

“It can be a little weird sometimes, you never really know who someone is when you’re talking to them. Not only in LA but in the industry as a whole, a lot of people do a lot of hand-shaking and smiling just hoping that people like them.”

Adam Yokum performing at the Metropolitan Theater in Morgantown

Since moving to LA, Yokum said his approach has become much more business-minded due to the simple fact that there are thousands more artists in LA than in West Virginia.

“It can be easier to stand out when there aren’t as many people trying to do the same thing as you,” Yokum said.

In recent years Yokum has shifted his focus to social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, something he appreciates the value of more, now that he has moved to LA.

If you want to listen to some of Adam Yokum’s music, he says the songs ‘West Virginia,’ ‘Real Love,’ and ‘California,’ best represent him as an artist, but his newest album Butterfly is his proudest achievement in music so far.

“I would say my most fun project was probably the music video for my song ‘Whole Lotta Money‘, we filmed that over a year ago in the Metropolitan Pool Hall in Morgantown. Some of my friends from high school now work for a film company, so we got together over like five days, they let us use that space and we made a sort of, underground, mafia-style poker game video; it was a blast.”

Yokum will be returning to Elkins on December 28 to perform at El Gran Sabor, and also plans a tour in West Virginia for the spring of 2023.