My Voice Thread & Draft Article
When South London rapper Jay-R was 20 years old, he uploaded a few songs to SoundCloud, a free music-sharing platform. The tracks got a couple hundred plays, then a few thousand. Three years later, on the strength of a moody song called “Next Up” and a series of streaming-only mixtapes, the rapper, now 23, has racked up over a 100 million Spotify streams and nabbed a Best New UK Artist Grammy nomination.
Jay-R’s rise is impressive. But this year, he’s just one in a crowd of Rap stars who are dominating the mainstream. Nearly half of the songs on Jan. 27’s Billboard Hot 100 chart was rap or incorporate elements of hip-hop. Listening in the genre increased 74% on Spotify in 2017, and Drake, the Weeknd and Kendrick Lamar were three of the platform’s top five most popular artists.
The Grammys are evolving as well. In years past, Album of the Year nominations might nod to one hip-hop album, this year, rap dominated the category, thanks to artists like Jay-Z, Lamar and Donald Glover, who has pushed genres with his musical project Childish Gambino. Three of the five nominees for Record of the Year are also hip-hop, as are three of the five up for Best New Artist, including Jay-R.
How did you first get into rapping?
My Brother started rapping when we were younger and eventually got me into it. I wasn’t that deep into it but after we went to jail over basically nothing, we started making a song about it while in lockup. Once we got out, we never stopped making music.
Tell us about your track “Next Up”?
“Next Up” is a hard track. The point is to be completely self-centred. Initially, it was released in a short EP called “TRAPHOUSE” in 2018. The point of the whole project was just embodiment of ‘the streets’, ‘partying’, and going out with the squad. “Next Up” is a song that is meant to be flashy, cocky, and overall flex. “Feel yourself music” as my management calls it; a definite song to play as you put on your best clothes while getting ready for a wild night.
What’s next for JaY-R in 2020?
It’s the beginning of a new decade, so I have to go all out! I have several projects; some completed some still in progress, sitting in the vault. Not to talk about the visuals that I have started working on… let’s just say 2020 will be a year of content. New music and new videos!