Canadian Hip Hop may have its next rising star in rapper/producer Jay The Kidd. The 18-year-old Toronto native began teaching himself to play piano at age six, and seven years later transferred his musical talents to production. Eventually he tried his hand at rapping as well.
Earlier this year Jay released his self-produced debut project Visions. The 11-track free mixtape, which features appearances by Pharaoh and Fisher Kay, is the world’s introduction to the young visionary. Further get to know Jay The Kidd in this DZI: The Voice Q&A.
Yohance Kyles: When did you discover your voice as an artist?
Jay The Kidd: I was 15 when I really started sitting down and writing songs. They didn’t rhyme and were off beat, so they pretty much sucked. At the time my voice was already deep as hell, and I didn’t like that, so I tried my hardest to lighten my tone. Then when I was sixteen I decided to just stop trying so hard and use my regular, deep voice, and it worked.
YK: What first attracted you to go into making music?
JTK: There were some days when I would literally sit at my desk in my room for hours and just listen to songs. I’d analyze them and pick a part each sound. I’d think to myself, “The drums should go harder” or “That would be a great sample.” After fantasizing about it so much I finally just made the decision to go ahead and actually do it.
YK: How would you describe your sound?
JTK: It’s a refreshing change in comparison to what’s common in Hip Hop right now. I look for something new and unprecedented to do every time I start a song, from beat selection to writing verses.
YK: Producer-rappers are usually viewed as a producer first and rapper second. If you had to choose would you prefer to be recognized for your skills as a producer or rapper?
JTK: Great question. I’d definitely like to be recognized as a producer first. Anyone can write raps with a little practice. Production Is where I get to be the most creative, so I feel it’s naturally where I’ll shine the most.
YK: The Toronto Hip Hop scene has gained attention over the last few years mostly because of Drake, but you also have other rappers like Kardinal Offishall, K’Naan, and Honey Cocaine that have reached a certain level of success. Do you feel like despite these artists’ accomplishments, Toronto is still underrated as far as being credited as a Hip Hop city?
JTK: Not at all. I think because of the success of those artists, we’re seeing more of an interest in the talent that comes out of Toronto. I remember watching an interview Juicy J did, and he said the last time he was in Toronto he was looking for talent. Drake, Kardi, K’Naan, and Honey Cocaine are just the tip of the iceberg in comparison to the artists that I’ve seen perform.
YK: On your track “Something I Wrote” you say, “started from the bottom, now we here. Fuck that”. Was that a shot a Drake?
JTK: Definitely not. When the song dropped it was an anthem, so I was okay with all the hype around it. A problem surfaced for me when every rapper and his mother started making their own remixes and claiming that the whole premise applied to them. I just don’t believe in lying through music to your fans about the life that you live.
YK: Most of the songs on Visions are aspirational and light, but “Anubis” has a blatantly dark theme. What was the inspiration for that song?
JTK: In all honestly I can say that I was mad as fuck when I wrote that song. “Anubis” is for the people that didn’t think I was talented and didn’t believe I would be able to pull off a mixtape like Visions. “Anubis” is my response to those doubts. Taking on the persona of Anubis, who’s the God of Death in Egyptian culture, I felt it was necessary to let the doubters know how I felt about them.
YK: Can you explain the concept behind Christian Butterfields’s artwork for the Visions cover?
JTK: In my opinion the artwork for Visions is on of the most creative and intriguing pieces I’ve seen this year. When I approached Christian to do the artwork, the album was incomplete at the time. The only thing I had told him about it was the title. He hadn’t heard any of the material. I think his own artistic interpretation of the word “visions” was right on point. If you listen to any song on my album and look at the artwork, it seems to fit. Props to him for that one, you can expect us to work together in the future.
YK: Fisher Kay is a regular featured artist on The Voice. How did you connect with Fisher?
JTK: Man, that’s my dude. From what I can remember we connected through Twitter. We talked about collaborating, and a few weeks later we had “Beach” a song I produced for his album Weekends. Since then we’ve collaborated a couple more times. His verse on “Good and Evil” is one of my favorites.
YK: Who are some of your influences as a producer?
JTK: My number one influence would have to be J Dilla. His whole style was so different compared to everything else during his time. My other big influence is Kanye West. With everything he doe he strives for perfection. I remember when I scraped up all the money I had to go buy Graduation. I swear I didn’t listen to anything else for a good 3 months. Some of my other influences are the RZA, Timbaland, and The Neptunes.
YK: This is has been big summer for Hip Hop releases. Which albums have you enjoyed the most?
JTK: I’ve been listening to [Kanye West’s] Yeezus and [Jay Z’s] Magna Carta Holy Grail recently. Those are definitely going on my “Greatest of All Time” playlist. [J. Cole’s] Born Sinner was also a great album.
YK: If you could work with any living artists who would you choose?
JTK: I’d love to work with Janelle Monáe. Her entire style is so inspirational. I’d also like to work with Pharrell. Working with Q-Tip would also be great. I grew up listening to A Tribe Called Quest.
YK: What’s next for Jay the Kidd?
JTK: I’ve been talking with a couple directors to put together a music video for “Anubis”, plus I’m working on a new album. “Escorts” is going to be the first single. Also be on the lookout for Tamed Apparel‘s next lookbook, you might see me in it!
For more info about Jay The Kidd click it
To connect with Jay follow him on Twitter @scripteddreams_
To stream/download Jay The Kidd’s Visions visit datpiff.com.
Check out some of Jay’s instrumental tracks: