J4y King: Connecting With Beats, Nipsey Hussle, & Being Versatile

There’s a reason the sun wakes you up“. Before hopping into the detailed conversation with rapper, J4y King, we sat for a few minutes discussing the weather. Sounds cliche but since we’re in two different regions, we thought it was comical that I was enjoying the heat in Atlanta while he was dodging rain showers in New York City. We got on the topic of how the weather can truly affect your mood, your motivation. Motivated is actually the word I would use to describe J4y. I have to say, after speaking with him and hearing everything he was working on and how his work ethic is, I pulled an all-nighter because I obviously wasn’t up to par.

You should take note of the way his name is spelled throughout this interview. No, it’s not a mistake or typo. First and foremost, it separates him from the millions of Jay King’s in the industry. “How do I make it different because I want to go by this. My mother’s maiden name is ‘King’, that’s where I got the King from. With the ‘4’ there, I was born in April and it still looks like the letter ‘A’“.

What’s your process like when you’re creating these projects”. As creatives, most of us have these little processes or changes we do once we start developing an idea; whether we know it or not. For J4y, he goes in knowing what he wants to do and how he wants his projects to sound. “For Sativa Season, I knew I wanted a fun and upbeat kind of thing and something you can play on a drive. Give you different types of vibes. It’s a playlist within itself. I also think about how I can perform this”. Performance is a prominent part of an artists’ career. Have you ever went to a concert for an artist you love and he or she can’t perform — or connect with the crowd? “For Breathing Room (released in 2013), it was to show I’m versatile. I kinda rushed it. I was at a point when I was going to quit rapping. My manager at the time convinced me not to. Shout out to Cutty”. He shares that this project didn’t embody him as an artist and it just seem rushed.

Now with his new project coming out, Breathing Room, J4y is going back to the drawing board to really show his versatility as an artist. He then shares his story about meeting with producer Tom Wolfe. “I met him at a show I did. He told me he fucked with my music, got my information probably from Instagram, and sent me over a beat. It took me a minute to write to it. I don’t know why — I was just sitting on it. When I finally sent him back the song, he was like ‘oh this is fire!’ and I knew it was. I’m not gonna lie. I did my thing on it”. Tom sent him more beats — about 4 more for an EP. It was an instant connection. J4y then made his song “Sweet Sweet” and “Ascensia”.

With his mom being Jamaican and father being Haitian, incorporating reggae into his songs just came naturally. “When I sent that to him, he went crazy”! That’s when J4y knew that this is what his new Breathing Room would be like. “Being versatile as an artist, it’s not just about the content. It’s about the way you deliver the content, different flows, cadences, rapping on different kinds of beats, the melodies”.

Now, I’m not artist or producer so I asked how he knew that he connected with a beat. “When I get a beat, it has to move. If I don’t want to start rapping on it immediately, it maybe not it. Some beats it could be the timing or I was tired so I’ll sit on it for awhile. Shout out to Jonny Ice. He sent me 4 amazing beats that went on to Sativa Season and it fit really well. The beats gotta fit well with what I’m trying to do”.

Recently, the music industry took a major loss when Nipsey Hussle passed away. I decided to ask J4y how this death affected him as an artist and a man. “That really fucked me up! I remember hearing of him when he first dropped a “hundred dollar. Then he came back around with Rap Nigga and I went back and listened to what I’ve been missing out on. But what I really keyed in on was his interviews. His interviews should me that your way of thinking is correct, keep going. He built up The Marathon, he stayed independent, kept all his masters. I didn’t know any of that. When I watch his interviews, I looked like this is what I want to do. He gave niggas hope! You can make it. Stay true to yourself. Give back to your community. That kind of integrity isn’t there anymore. After losing him, I had a self realization. Why did the marathon work? It stands for something with purpose. It’s not just the clothing. Keep going”. J4y goes on to speak about looking at his own brand, Sativa Season and what the purpose of it is: blazing, creating, elevating. Staying ten ones down and staying solid. When you do things, do it with purpose. That’s the lesson for today. Purposeful living.

Amani Allen-Beale

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