Jay5 is on his way to becoming one of the greats.
Originally hailing from Virginia, moving through New York, and finding his way to Atlanta, the rising rapper paints a vivid picture of his upbringing in the streets, turning a negative into a positive regardless of the circumstances.
Jay5 describes himself as “a youngin’ from Atlanta trying to stay in his own lane. I’m for the people, that’s the best way to put it. I put myself last in all situations.”
Having grown up with the global superstar Lil Baby, Jay5 is directly inspired and motivated by his come up — giving him the reassurance that if Baby could do it, he could too. Mixing his Southern Trap influence with autotune, Jay5 made his mark with his debut project Super Turnt, hailing the fan-favorite “Super Turnt” featuring Rylo Rodriguez.
With his newest offering, the 5 EP, Jay 5 unveils 3 new tracks paying homage to his best friend who was killed last year.
AllHipHop: You say you put yourself last in all situations, why is that?
Jay5: It’s because I got depression problems, so sometimes I don’t really be caring about me. I get a joy out of seeing other people happy, at least the ones I care about. If I don’t know you, f### you. But the people I care about, my happiness can only lie within seeing them happy. If everybody around me is sad, I’m sad. I’ma be sad regardless, but seeing other people, it makes my days a little bit better.
AllHipHop: I struggle with mental health as well. What sparked your depression?
Jay5: My best friend got killed in front of me. I had got out of prison in July, he got killed in September. I was 21, so 5 years ago. S### just gone bad, putting trust in wrong people. That’s the best way to explain it, he had his trust in the wrong people. They killed him, somebody he thought he knew. That’s life though.
AllHipHop: How long were you in prison for?
Jay5: 2 years, I got charged with robbery. I was 19 when I went to prison.
AllHipHop: What did you learn from behind bars?
Jay5: Mind your own business. Don’t get in nobody else’s business. You see people in there… snitching became real big on the internet now. I’m not going to do a crime that I know I can’t spend the time for. That’s how people end up snitching in predicaments, because they do stuff that they might not know what the repercussions are. If I knew doing this crime can get me 2 to 3 years, I know I can go sit down for 2 or 3 years without taking it like a man even if somebody else is with me and I get caught, that’s a chance I take. That’s that. I learned if you can’t be responsible for yourself and for what you do as a man, leave that alone. One thing about it, it’ll catch up with you.
AllHipHop: At what point did you realize you could do music for a living?
Jay5: When I got out of prison, 3.5 to 4 years ago. I had some of the bros, I tried to fake be their manager. I already knew a lot of rappers in Atlanta, a lot of people. I used to hang with QC so I tried to put my face on their body. They used to be lazy so I figured I’d give it a shot myself. I know I’ma put the work ethic in.
AllHipHop: Who or what made you want to rap?
Jay5: I ain’t never want to be no rapper. I still don’t want to be no rapper, to be honest. I told you I got depression so I be anti-social. I ain’t really like people being in your business all the time, I’m not really into that. The money that you can gain is what I’m into chasing. I ain’t really chasing the whole being a rapper, I’m trying to get rich. That’s my only motivation, the money.
AllHipHop: You were getting money in the streets though?
Jay5: Yeah, but it’s a different type of money though. The money that money comes with, it can’t create generational wealth. You can’t create generational wealth out the streets, unless you’re going to depend on your kids being in the streets and I didn’t plan on them ever being in the streets.
AllHipHop: Was it easy for you to pick up?
Jay5: It wasn’t easy. I’m in the studio right now, but I ain’t rap in 2 weeks. I’m like damn man, is this s### really for me? I asked myself that everyday. It definitely ain’t easy for sure.
AllHipHop: Talk about the grind and the work and the time effort that you’re putting into it.
Jay5: Like anything else in the world: if you don’t grind, you don’t eat. Point blank period. There’s 1,000 good rappers out there, there’s millions, you got to find a way to separate yourself. There are millions of people who rap in the world. People think “oh if I make a hit, then I’ma blow up.” You know how many people got hits, but ain’t never blew up? It’s not about that, it’s about doing stuff with the music. The music is 30% of the battle. Making some good music, everybody can do that nowadays. It’s about having a plan with the music, the grind is what’s going to get you going. Music gon’ keep you there. As long as you can constantly produce good music, it’s gon’ keep you in the limelight. But the grind is what’s going to get you where you want to be.
AllHipHop: How does music help you cope mentally?
Jay5: It helps me sometimes. People who have depression might feel like they don’t got nobody to talk to, it’s like I’m talking to somebody without talking to somebody.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio?
Jay5: Nothing because I don’t be doing no drugs, I don’t drink. I be comfortable. I got to be fly because the type of music I make, I be poppin’ it. I got to have money too, I gotta have money on me so I could feel good about myself. I’ve got to be fly. I might put the money in my hand, I got to feel good about myself. I need something to feel good about me, to be able to make the type of music I want to be able to make.
AllHipHop: You released Super Turnt in November. What’s one thing you want fans to get from that project?
Jay5: Be turnt, whatever you do. When I say turnt, turnt can be in so many different ways. Turnt isn’t just having money because everybody isn’t going to have money. You can be able to lead a group of people with having no money. If you’re an influence and they trust your word, they gon’ believe that we’re all about to get some money. You can have no money and tell them “I have no money,” but if you follow my plan, I’ll lead us to the will. Be super turnt! Be the guy or gal that everybody wants to follow. Don’t try to fall into what you see everybody on the internet doing, be turnt in your own way. It ain’t no definition of turnt. Turnt isn’t having money. If you’re a manager over at the whole Kroger, you still turnt. Your nametag still gonna say Kroger, but I’m manager over there. I tell everybody in the store what to do, I’m still turnt. I’m the only one in the building who could be on their phone on the floor. JBe turnt however which way you are.
AllHipHop: How was working with Rylo on the project?
Jay5: I f### with Rylo, that’s one of Lil Baby’s artists. Lil Baby one of my best friends so that’s how I met Rylo, through Lil Baby. I didn’t even like the song “Super Turnt” at first. I don’t really listen to my own music. I’m not one of them self-built people that get in the car… some rappers say “I only listen to myself.” I ain’t on that. One day we’re at the studio, I told him “I need you to get on something for my tape for me.” He said “alright, play me something.” I played him a couple songs and that’s the one he chose.
AllHipHop: You’ve known Lil Baby for 10 years so you saw him come up from the beginning. How was that?
Jay5: Hell yeah, motivational. In the world, envy be so real. A lot of people will probably feel a certain type of way if they see they mans come up, but it’s motivation to me. Something that can be done.
AllHipHop: How did y’all meet initially?
Jay5: We had another mutual friend named Neil. Free Neil, he locked up right now. We locked in. You know, real nggas f### with real nggas. Since the first day we met, we have been locked up ever since. When the new blue $100 bills came out, I was in prison. The first time I ever seen a blue $100 bill, he showed it to me and gave me one.
AllHipHop: That’s crazy!
Jay5: I’m used to do that stuff. When he went to prison, he had his first child when he was in prison too. I tried to return the favor the best way I could. If his baby mama might need something, I wanted to make sure I could do something to help. I used to look out for his family too when he was in prison and I had got out.
AllHipHop: Did you always think he was gonna be this superstar?
Jay5: Out of us 3… if we’re the Three Amigos, he for sure was the leader at the time. In my eyes, he didn’t sell out to become who he is. That’s the biggest thing I f### with, he ain’t try to go ride nobody else’s wave to become who he was. He wasn’t into all the fake industry s###. He’s just him and lit, let music and the grind work for himself.
AllHipHop: Ya’ll got music?
Jay5: Yeah, we got 2 songs already out: “Fasho” and “PLENTY VIBES.” That’s my friend so we might be in the studio together everyday, but we friends. I’ma have something new coming with him though.
AllHipHop: Best piece of advice he gave you with this music s###?
Jay5: Man, keep grinding. I told you, I never really wanted to be a rapper. A lot of times, I think “man I ain’t stuntin’ this s### man.” He be telling me “keep going, this s### don’t happen overnight.” Stick to your own plan. He tells me all the time, “what works for me might not work for you.” What works for you might not work for this person, you gotta go with your own plan.
AllHipHop: You have the “Black Mamba” intro, what does Kobe mean to you?
Jay5: I used to play basketball when I was younger, Kobe is an inspiration to anybody in my generation. Kobe Bryant is the Michael Jordan of my generation. LeBron is who he is, but Kobe’s the Michael Jordan of my generation.
AllHipHop: Talk about the 5 EP and what that project means to you.
Jay5: I dropped the 5 EP on the same day as my birthday. I wanted to let the world know I could come up with s### any day. I dropped Super Turnt in November. I’m in the studio working it, but I’ll come back and drop 3 more songs in December. Let them know man, I’m really on ya’ll ass. Any given time, y’all make me mad I’ll drop again next month too. All bangers, the same way. I ain’t running out of bangers. That’s really the only message I’m trying to send. I’ll come up with a banger anytime you want.
AllHipHop: How’s the independent grind?
Jay5: It got its pros and cons, it’s not all peaches and cream how people think. It’s great to have people working for you when you’ve got a great situation. My advice wouldn’t be for artists to stay independent, stay independent until you get yourself where you got bargaining power. If you get hot in the streets and every record label calling your phone, you got bargaining power. Everybody wants you and you know why because it’s obviously something. Now you can say “hey, I’m not giving up 100% of my masters. I give y’all 50%, I’ma keep 50%. We can do it like that.”
Independent is good because you can do what you want. Being independent unless you’ve got the right resources because that’s what this game is more about more than anything. It’s about resources. How you gon’ get your music in these certain playlists? How you gon’ get your music in the right hands? How are you gonna get these DJs to f### with your music? Staying independent is good, but it has its cons as well.
AllHipHop: How important is social media for your career?
Jay5: Man I hate social media, but it’s important, especially for upcoming artists. Once you become established, you can shy away from it. As far as upcoming, people who aren’t in your geographic region, there needs to be a way to identify you. I’m from Atlanta, how else can anybody in Cali really get word or get hip to me without social media? There’d be no way. It’s important, but I hate it though man. It comes with a lot.
AllHipHop: Are you anti social? I know you have a song called Anti Social.
Jay5: For sure, if I don’t know you… Drake can walk into the room right now in this studio, I wouldn’t say a word to him. I’m scared of people’s intentions. I don’t know what people’s intentions are. Another thing, I don’t ever want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want to offend nobody so I keep to myself, and I don’t want to get offended.
AllHipHop: Goals you have for yourself at this point?
Jay5: I’m trying to set myself up to set my kids up, that’s my biggest goal. I want my kids to have no worries. The worries I go through and went through, I don’t want them to ever have to have any of them.
AllHipHop: How old are your kids now?
Jay5: My little girl is 7, my little boy is 3, and I got one unborn who’s due in June.
AllHipHop: What can we expect next?
Jay5: I’m working on my next project called Personal. I be going hard, but I ain’t getting the recognition that I deserve. I’m starting to take it personal now, is it me? I know I make good music, is it me? I gotta start taking it Personal now so that’s what I’m going to call it.