Jay IDK sat down with us and shed a little light into his world as a rising Hip-Hop artist in today's world. He didn't give the typical answers you'd except to get from a rapper in terms of his inspirations and his goals, but that's what makes him stand out as a artist. He strikes you as a young hungry artist with a plan and a exact understanding of how he's going to execute that plan. After all he stated it himself he's a "businessman" that's developing a complete understanding of both sides of this game.
(Questions in bold)
What are your first memories of Hip-Hop? When did you know you actually wanted to rap?
My first memories of Hip-Hop are probably like The Hot Boyz, I use to watch them on MTV, that’s when I started really liking rap. But when I actually started rapping I would say was around 4th grade. I use to take Eminem’s rhymes and pretend they were mine. But I first knew I wanted to rap about 2-2½ years ago when I was locked up. I was pretty much bored and I started to write and other people would see me writing and ask me to spit and when I did they actually liked it. So that’s kind of how I started that.
So it’s safe to say Eminem influenced you?
Were there any other avenues you wanted to take outside of music growing up?
I was in school for computer science.
Do you see yourself going back?
Hell no. I'm not going to say I'm going to stick to rap there’s other things I want to do as far as movie production and directing and things like that.
So you want to be an entertainer?
Yeah, but I mean there’s other things I would want to do to investment wise and things of that nature. It doesn’t end at rap, I going to say that.
How do you draw inspiration when making your music? Who do you look up too, music related or not.
I get inspiration in so many different ways, I could be listening to something outside of the genre (Hip-Hop), I could not be listening to anything, I could be walking down the street, its just so many different ways. I might hear a beat I want rap over, it’s a lot of different ways. Who would be my inspiration? Man, people like the Gorillaz, I listen to them a lot I get a lot of inspiration from them. They are one of the few people that make music that I would consider to be timeless. I listen to a lot of weird stuff outside of rap, mainly outside of rap.
How do you spend your free time away from music?
That’s a hard question because I think it's music 24/7 for real. I might not be necessarily making music per say, I might be watching an interview online. Even when I'm working out I'm listen to music, its music all the time.
DMV unity, or lack thereof is a big topic right now, so how do you feel about the DMV rap scene as a whole? Do you think you get enough support from fans and other artists locally?
Its funny I just did some analytics and figured out my fan base is mainly in Cali even though I'm starting to get a name out here (DMV) a little more. I'm getting support, a lot of the gatekeepers are supporting me but the support that I want is not there yet. In terms of the DMV rap scene itself it's getting better, unity is starting to be more of a thing now. People are coming together more and there are a lot more innovation artists that are doing what they got to do.
That’s interesting that you say you have a fan base in Cali because that was one of our next questions. What area’s geographically do you see your fan base growing the most? And why do you think that is?
One thing about me is that I’ve always been a businessman first, the business of the music is as important to me as the music itself. I’m not one of those artist that’s like “music only I don’t care about business.” So I know exactly where my fan base is and that’s based off analytics. So I know I got a strong fan base in Cali, New York, Texas, and overseas too a strong European base.
Why do you think that is? Because those places, outside of New York, are really far from the DC area. Texas wouldn’t be the first place that comes to mind.
The Internet age is why. Because of the Internet it doesn’t really matter where you’re at. You can connect with someone instantly at the snap of a finger or before you even finish snapping your finger you can connect with someone in another country. So whoever heard my music probably told some friends where ever they’re at, and that’s probably how it spread.
Do you think it’s hard to find your own “sound” especially as a DMV area artist?
For me no. I don’t think its hard to find a sound period if you’re in the DMV. Your sound isn’t subject to where you’re from. You have access to all kinds of music that can give you influence. I definitely don’t think it’s hard to find a sound just because I'm from here.
What artist do you want to work with the most? DMV based or not?
The Gorillaz. Damon Albarn, who started the Gorillaz, I want him to executive produce my album one day. This other group called Cibo Matto, their like a Japanese female duo, its really weird weird weird music, a lot people won’t like it but I like it and I want them to rap over one of my songs. That’s probably 2 of the people I can think of off the top of my head, but definitely the Gorillaz number 1.
How do you critique your own music? How do you look for ways to improve?
I pay attention to other music that’s doing/done well. I pay attention to production quality, flow, and lyricism. I really do this, like you know how you go to school and you study your major, that’s what I do with music I study it. I understand bars, synonyms, how many words are in a bar, and the importance of changing up your cadence every 4 bars. I understand small details that most people wouldn’t, so with that I use it to measure other people’s music and then mine.
Are you the only person that critiques your own music?
I'm definitely not the only person. However I have rule; if my song isn’t done and I send it to you I don’t really want your advice. I want to know if you like it as is but if you don’t I don’t really want to know until I get it to a specific point where I feel its going to get a far judgment. But if you do like it as is and I know I have a lot more to do to it then more than likely you’ll like it when its done. But I have a few people that I trust to listen to my music and give me opinions.
How would you classify your music to someone who hasn’t heard it?
Ignorantly delivering knowledge. You might not know you are learning something from my music until its too late. It’s a paradox that makes sense.
What are your feelings towards signing with a major label or going independent?
I'm a businessman first, it’s a matter of timing and whether it makes sense deal wise. That’s a very broad question.
Well you hear people complain about artist going major and selling out, but we may not know if the deal makes sense for that particular artist at that time in their career. Then you get some people or artist that want to do it independently no matter what, they feel like they have the resources to do it. I just want to know where you stand.
People don’t understand the concept of the music “business.” A question I get and I think it’s not a very good question to ask a person is “who would I sign to?” And usually they base it off name or a particular labels roster, but who I would sign to is way deeper then just a name and roster. You got to understand that label, what are they doing, how are they pushing their artists, are they giving attention to one specific artist or are they well rounded. Do they handle business correctly?
I feel like the average fan doesn’t look at it that deeply. They are basing that question off the popularity of certain labels.
Exactly, that’s true. But right now I'm independent and making specific moves to put me on certain platforms or the same platforms as someone who is signed to a major label. I mean there's so many things that you could do, you could even stay independent and have major label distribution. Which is the same as being independent but now you have the budget. There’s just so much to that.
I see where you’re coming from, a place of trying to be your own businessman.
My goal business wise, I want to stress the business part, is to make as much money as possible. This is why I understand both sides of the fence in terms of artistry and business. The moment you put one dollar into recording or going to a show it then becomes an investment and when you invest your goal is to make money on the return. I'm in this for both sides, I love the artistry and I'm a businessman that understands that side. Most artists only know artistry and little business, and management know business and little artistry. I understand both when it comes to me and what I create as a whole.