DXCLUSIVE – Being nicknamed after The Joker is a heavy burden to carry. Instead of shying away from the unpredictable theatrics of the character, New York Giants wide receiver Kadarius Toney leans into the enigmatic persona by rapping under the name Yung Joka.

With the NFL first-round pick putting a bow on his rookie season, Joka trades in his cleats for a mic and returned to music on Thursday (January 27) — which also serves as his 23rd birthday — to unleash the third installment of his Warrior series.

To learn about Toney, look no further than the fresh ink on his back summing up his entire life’s journey to this point. KT describes growing up in Mobile, Alabama as “survival of the fittest” and he has the 251 area code engraved just below his neck with other parts of the tattoo dedicated to his time at the University of Florida, New York City and even inked the Warrior 3 cover art on his right shoulder to complete the piece.

Yung Joka started rapping as a hobby as a teenager but began taking the craft more seriously as a student-athlete at the University of Florida where he turned to music to avoid the traps of college life and stay out of trouble.

While mostly reserved about his personal business, Toney uses the heavy guitar-laden and thumping 808 production to breeze through seven tracks and open up about his disdain for DJ Akademiks, friends he’s lost along the way and doing interviews just like this.

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“People see me but they don’t really know me like that,” the former high school quarterback says of what he hopes listeners take away from his new project. “I don’t really talk to people like that. I don’t be around I guess you could say. I guess they could take a deeper dive into my life and why I am the way I am.”

As a jack-of-all-trades weapon on the football field, Toney’s skillset follows him into the recording booth. Check out the rest of HipHopDX‘s conversation with Yung Joka and stream Warrior 3 below.

HipHopDX: Release day is about to be here. How does it feel to drop Warrior 3?

Yung Joka: Feeling pretty confident and ready to get the music out there and let the people hear it. It’s been over a year since I dropped something so I’m ready to start this journey off right. 

HipHopDX: Does releasing your art to the world compare to the pre-game jitters on the field at all?

Yung Joka: It’s kinda different since it’s a different concept of my life. This is my personal life and what I go through, so this is a whole other entity than football. 

HipHopDX: What’s the origin of the Yung Joka name you got?

Yung Joka: It really just came from everyone I guess calling me the Joker because of the way I act and stuff like that. I’m kinda serious, kinda joking and that’s in personality I guess you could say, so I ran with that and put my own twist on it. 

HipHopDX: You got a new tattoo on your back that had to take a while. Was it painful?

Yung Joka: Nah, I was chillin. It took a couple of days though because my tattoo artist wanted to break it into different segments. That’s pretty much my journey on my back. I got the street I grew up on, I got Florida and I got New York because that’s where I’m at now. It’s just pretty much my journey on where I’ve been and where I came from. 

HipHopDX: Talk to me about growing up in Mobile, Alabama and who were some of your favorite rappers coming up?

Yung Joka: It wasn’t too many jumping at the time but growing up I didn’t have no favorite rapper. As time came along, there was Young Thug, Future, Gunna and Lil Baby. Growing up in Mobile was survival of the fittest. 

HipHopDX: When did you start rapping?

Yung Joka: I was pretty much doing this in 2013 or 2014 when I had gone to the studio for the first time. I didn’t take it seriously until I got to college. I just seen the opportunity behind it. There’s a lot of stuff going on, different cultures and lot of different people coming into my life. If I’m doing something else instead of doing this other stuff like getting in trouble and stupid shit, I was like, ‘Just let me lock in.’ I’ve been doing it for almost three years now.

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HipHopDX: Who are you listening to before games?

Yung Joka: I’m listening to King Von, NBA YoungBoy and Gunna. I put myself in the mix depending on how I’m feeling. 

HipHopDX: How would you grade your rookie season?

Yung Joka: It was mediocre, just really a lot of injures. Not really much I can say, but I’m looking forward to next year. 

Kadarius Toney finished the 2021 season with 39 receptions with 420 yards and 0 touchdowns in 10 games. He also broke the Giants rookie receiving yards record in one game when he posted 10 catches for 189 yards against the Dallas Cowboys. 

HipHopDX: What do you hope the Giants find in a new head coach?

Yung Joka: I really don’t know. Just someone that’s a leader and hardworking really and that’s going to put us in a position to be successful. 

HipHopDX: What do you hope fans or new listeners take away from hearing this album?

Yung Joka: I guess they could learn a little bit more about me. People see me but they don’t really know me like that. I don’t really talk to people like that. I don’t be around I guess you could say. I guess they could take a deeper dive into my life and why I am the way I am. I don’t like people knowing my business. I don’t like being in the spotlight all the time, I’m good.