Box Hill, Surrey. A charming village in the rolling Surrey Hills perhaps isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of hip hop music. However, thanks to a 20-year-old purist emcee who goes by the name of Jayedee, Box Hill has a promising young hip hop artist.
Jayedee’s been making tracks for over 2 years but didn’t release his first LP until April 20th of this year, titled Just A Young Dream. We’re in an era of hip hop where emcees who focus their music on lyrics are regarded as unorthodox, as opposed to the usual trap drums or autotune taking the spotlight. So, we sat down with Jayedee over a Zoom call to discuss the mixtape, influences and his driving force to make lyrics-driven hip hop.
Jamie Donegan chose his childhood nickname when he started rapping, JD - though this clashed with jargonisms for a particular brand of bourbon whiskey, an Atlanta hip hop legend named Jermaine Dupri as well as a popular English high street sportswear store. The name changed to Jay D - though this, too, was found to be clashing with various other hip hop artists’ stage names. Thus, the unique Jayedee was settled on prior to the album release. Though, it’s worth mentioning that Jamie subliminally pays homage to the previous spelling within the title of his album - Just A Young Dream initialised becomes ‘JAYD’.
Jayedee gained some clout through rapping on Instagram which eventually got him invited to perform at a Bl@ckbox session. “The freestyles on Instagram, that’s what sort of got a buzz around my name”, Jayedee told SOuthside. “I entered a challenge with Westy...the challenge was called Underrated Challenge, I’m pretty sure. Westy had teamed up with Bl@ckbox, and everyone knows Dave, J-Hus, they all came up off that so I just thought - what is there to lose? So I posted the video up and people just loved it. It got to the final stages and I actually won, so that was surprising. And I won a Bl@ckbox… Big up Westy, he does a lot for the people that goes unseen, do you know what I mean. He’s a good guy.”
A couple of weeks ago, Jayedee published another Instarap about the killing of George Floyd that got reposted by a number of prolific UK rap pages. We asked whether political rap is something Jayedee is a proponent of, to which he replied: “My whole thing with rap is that I fell in love with the hip hop essence, if you will. The deeper meaning, where you have to dig into the lyrics and find out what they actually mean.
"It’s dying out."
“I mean, the George Floyd thing? I just saw that video,” Jayedee told through stammer, “you can’t really say it, I just couldn’t believe what I saw. That was just the expression that was on my head, that [Instagram rap video] was what I was feeling at the time. But the deeper meaning, yeah definitely man because, I mean, you’ve got to have some longevity towards your work. I feel like a lot of the music that gets pushed out now is just what they feel, and that’s not necessarily a problem but then I don’t necessarily think that it will be relevant in 5-10 years from now. Do you know what I mean? The ‘deeper meaning’ is definitely something you need to push because, I mean, it’s dying out.”
Words are powerful. Fully-developed language is what separates humans from other animals. Jayedee echoes this in his intro to the Just A Young Dream LP, speaking numerous times the line “My first step to perfect the word that I speak”. Here, Jayedee elaborates on his meaning:
“Speaking words has a power to it. Recently I’ve been reading a lot more, and I’ve been finding out a lot more about the power of words - and the power of your mind, obviously. But ‘My first step to perfect the word that I speak’, really all I had in my mind at the time was I just wanna get this rapping done, this is what I wanna do…
“You can say that it was a law of attraction thing because now it’s something that I look to and I see, oh shit, no definitely, definitely, definitely.”
As a purist, Jayedee’s focus is on the rhymes. However, this does not mean that Just A Young Dream is by any means boring besides the lyrics - from the G-funk rhythms of Rap Life to the more gritty What Do I Say?, which brings in elements of grime, Jayedee’s freshman effort keeps the ears as entertained as the mind. This is without mentioning A Little Sage, the instrumental for which is dominated by a vibraphone synth and a lagging drum beat that creates the kind of funky track that has you expecting Anderson .Paak to jump in at any moment for the hook.
On his influences, Jayedee describes that - while there are three main hip hop artists he looks up to in character and in sound (Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$ and Nipsey Hussle) - there are also countless other influences that come in and out. Jayedee’s notion feels akin to a quote from the late Karl Lagerfeld, German fashion designer, when he was asked what his one greatest influence was to which he replied: “zillions”. Jayedee explained to SOuthside that he doesn’t dwell on any one particular style for too long, but rather absorbs it and allows himself to write and perform however he feels at any one time.
“I’m neither here nor there,” Jayedee says. “I’m a bit of everything - no doubt.”
As a hip hop purist, his response was unhesitant when asked what his aim was with his music - “The sole aim is not money. It’s not ever money, and I think if people base their main purpose in life to money then they’re gonna live an unhappy life. I love music, and I found a love for [making] music through listening to music...I do music because I feel like the influence that it has on people nowadays is ridiculous. Like, people are wearing the same clothes, they’re saying the same things, they’re literally copying what these pioneer artists do and what I feel is missing is something ‘real’. And even though that does exist in hip hop, and always will - within music, the ‘real’ will always prevail - but it’s not as abundant as it needs to be and I feel like I can offer that realness to the music scene because it needs it, do you know what I mean?...People enjoy what they want to enjoy, but the autotune is a bit whiny for me.”
"You can learn a lot from the people that don’t like you."
And, as expected, Jayedee had a message for the fans: “Thank you for listening. If you don't listen, or if you do listen and don’t like, then please message me and tell me what you didn’t like; tell me what you want me to do...you can learn a lot from the people that don’t like you. But yeah, I appreciate everybody that takes the time out to listen to my music, and it means the world to me at the end of the day because people need to hear it.”