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Friday, July 25, 2014

Meet Daye Jack: Atlanta's new 'unusual'

  • Courtesy of Daye Jack/Pigeons & Planes

Several weeks have passed since I got that text from Jabari Graham of ABL Radio telling me to "peep this kid."

The link sent me to a Daily Discovery post on the indie rock/hip-hop music blog Pigeons and Planes. I read the post about some 18-year-old named Daye Jack, from Atlanta by way of Nigeria, but currently in New York majoring in computer science at NYU. I kept my expectations low before pressing play on the embedded YouTube, because well, you know how the Internet is. All hype.

Then I caught "Hello World." ... and I thought, OK. I'm intrigued. What else?

On "Trapped in Love," he rhymes "Poseidon" with "smilin.'" I had to rewind.

But when I heard him rapping about loneliness on "Save My Soul," yeah, I was sold.

Something about the his rhythmic intonation, melodic delivery, and dialect makes him sound alien here. And not in that second generation ATLien way. Definitely more Childish Gambino than Migos. But also none of the above. Experimental and lyrical. He even puts his own twist on the Georgia state song with "Son of Georgia." And he considers Raury a hometown contemporary. Did I mention he produces his own shit?

His Hello World mixtape on DatPiff turns six months old next week. That's almost has-been status in online years. But he still seems to be flying slightly below the radar. Probably because so little has been known about him until recently. In a follow-up Q+A, Pigeons and Planes called him "one of Atlanta's most unusual rappers" before digging deeper into his backstory:

First and foremost, how did you get starting making music?
It happened four and a half years ago. I started listening to more music outside of what was given to me and experiencing more music. From there, I wanted to make my own music, but I understood that there were certain skills that I had to gain and there were certain things that I had to do before I could make what I wanted to make. I also understood that with my creativity, the way that I thought and the way that I viewed things, that, when I got there, the music that I make would mean something and would be interesting in itself.

From there, I just started writing, and two years after that I started expanding, recording some things, but still just building the arsenal and the skill set. And two years after that, when I felt like I was ready and it was time for me to start doing the things that I set out to do, I started working on the Hello World mixtape. That was when it all came together.

And the influence — or lack thereof — that growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta has had on his music:

Being less attached to the city, I was never pushed towards “Atlanta music” or the Atlanta that people know. But the Atlanta that I grew up in, the surrounding areas of Atlanta, metro Atlanta, I think that just gave me a natural viewpoint. Less rooted to a region and more rooted to how I felt. So I’ve never really pushed towards Atlanta culture, but I did get things like Outkast and things like that that were huge. Being there and not being there at the same time.

And that sense of alienation that permeates Hello World:

This might be a difficult question so you can refuse to answer: Do you feel lonely in regards to your perspective and how you relate to other people?
I know that there are people who set out to do their own thing and there are people out there who may think similarly, but at the same time, I feel like this process is so individualistic that it is lonely. No one else is going to be as passionate about your dreams as you are. No one is going to care as much, so it definitely is a lonely thing, I bet, for anyone, not just me.

It’s the type of loneliness that allows you to think and bring these things that you imagine to life. It’s like the song I put out, “Save My Soul”: “I walk a lonely road/I walk it all alone.” That song is shedding light on the fact that the journey to your own dreams and your own success is a lonely one because no one else is going to care as much as you care.

Might wanna keep an eye on this kid.

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