Jay-Way’s ‘No, I’m Not Ok’ was his Therapy Session (Q&A)
Tell me a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in the southeast region of Amsterdam, Netherlands. My parents are originally from Ghana. My dad is a DJ and spoon-fed me so many different genres of music growing up. Everything changed when he introduced me to Michael Jackson’s music. I was sold – I thought I was Michael Jackson at one point (laughs).
I always loved Hip-Hop but never thought of becoming a rapper until my classmate in high school got me into freestyling. We’d freestyle in the classroom, on the school playground, at the cafeteria, you name it.
A year later, that same dude gave me his mixtape. I noticed that his content changed. He wasn’t cursing or boasting. The man gave his life to Jesus and had a whole mixtape about the gospel (laughs). I wasn’t familiar with that but the message just moved me.
His mixtape led me to faith. I’m forever indebted.
So your alternate name is JayWaytheAlien. Why the name, what’s the significance behind it, and how did you come up with it?
I’ve always been into sci-fi and never felt like I fit in. Then I read John 15:19 [If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you] and was like, “that’s it, I’m an alien.”
Back in 2016, You were voted as a freshman for the Encore Festival. You released “Happen Dappen” featuring Digitzz, which is currently your most-streamed song with over 2 million streams. How did that happen (pun intended)?
(Laughs) I got a DM from a dutch Spotify curator on the day of the release. He told me how much he liked the song, then shared it across all types of playlists. I was going crazy! It was my second year actively releasing music, so it was really big for me.
Tell me what your artist journey has been like ever since the blow-up of “Happen Dappen.”
It taught me that it’s possible [to be an artist] without conforming to industry standards. The song has two different hooks. The arrangement isn’t something you’ll usually hear. Digitzz and I were having fun with it. Live show opportunities and everything else took off after that.
What are you trying to accomplish with your music?
I want to experiment as much as I can and take my listeners on a journey while I do it. I also would like to invite people into my world with the visuals I create. And I want to entertain while also giving fans hope. I just want to make beautiful art and inspire people the same way my favorite artists inspired me.
What are your goals as an artist? Where are you hoping the music will take you?
I want to become a pop queen when I grow up. That’s my goal.
If someone random came up to you on the street and asked, “why does your music matter,” what would you say?
“It’s a pandemic. You’re miserable. I am too. Here’s an encouraging project to help you through it.”
I started working on this project back in 2018. I was going through it mentally at the time. My first step to healing was acknowledging it. Writing for the album became therapy sessions. Before I knew it, I had a whole project about my experiences and the process of healing.
The message is that we often feel as if our situations are final when it’s another page in your “Diary.” We need to understand that we’re still “On The Rise.” Don’t feel like you’re crazy when you’re not doing well mentally. It’s ok not to be ok, but there’s hope.
Listening back to your last two projects and latest singles, your latest EP is a new sound for you with Emo Trap. Why did you decide to go that direction for this project?
I hope people don’t label my sound as emo trap. It’s not just a guitar loop, 808’s, and sad lyrics. I make alternative pop with honest lyrics. I always wanted to make pop music, good pop music. This EP is my first step towards that.
Is this a permanent sound for you, or will you come out with a new sound for future releases?
Find out on the next episode (laughs).