Somewhere in this Hip Hop soul community was born an artist with expressive music that is helping to redefine the aura of the Southern sound. More specifically, it was Fela Kuti’s home country and Gladys Knight’s home city that conceived rising performer Daye Jack.
Around the age of 6, Jack, his American father, and Nigerian mother moved from the West African nation to the Atlanta suburb of Duluth, Georgia. It was not long after that migration across the Atlantic Ocean when a young Daye used the music of OutKast, T.I., and other A-Town rap representatives as templates for his own creations.
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“After listening to an album I really liked, I would think, ‘Maybe I can try and do this, but do it my own way.’ I just took parts from these albums I really loved and tried to see what I could do with it,” Jack explains to AllHipHop.com. “After two years as a hobby, I said, ‘I can actually do this.’”
The now 19-year-old rapper-singer has grabbed the attention of the industry with his eye-popping videos and genre-melding tunes. Jack’s 2014 independent mixtape Hello World was not an overnight breakout success, but the emotional project put him in a position to eventually ink a deal with Warner Bros Records.
“I put out the tape after like four months of working on it. I put it out and didn’t get hit up. It didn’t seem like anyone was listening to it,” recalls Jack. “Overtime people were hitting me up, and I was getting into different meetings. But it wasn’t like I put it out then I started getting phone calls. I put out the tape, and a couple of months later I linked up with my managers. A couple of months later, I started talking to different labels.”
Even as Hello World continued to spread, Jack turned his attention to his next collection. This past June the exceptionally cohesive Soul Glitch hit the internet, and the otherworldly take on soul-based Hip Hop was further evidence a bright new voice had landed.
“I was so picky on the sound. I knew going in what I wanted sound wise for the project,” Jack states. “It wasn’t so much, ‘Let me find a certain type of beat.' For this one, I was thinking, 'I have a particular sound in mind, and I’m going to spend as much time as it takes to find people making that sound with soulful stuff.'”
Soul Glitch songs such as “Easy” and “Choices” present a confident lyricist capable of tapping into the everyman archetype. While tracks like “Stars Align” and “Feed On Love” show Daye is still not content when it comes to success and love.
The deluxe edition of Soul Glitch was released through WBR, but Jack insists his new label deal did not impact the aesthetics of his debut retail project. Most of the artistic work was completed before he etched his name on the dotted line.
“I was already done with Soul Glitch before I signed. It was still on the same tip. I was still linking with people via the internet, working with friends, having my homie from Atlanta mix and master, and working on the artwork for it with my friend in Atlanta,” says Jack. “What changed was the team that I had with me when it was time to finish it up was bigger. Clearing it, getting it on iTunes - there was a team there to do that. That was more on the business side.”
Even though many of the hands involved with his latest body of work were stationed in the ATL, Daye has actually spent several years in other locales. At the moment, Jack is based in Los Angeles, and Hello World was actually recorded when he was a freshman computer science major at New York University.
Perhaps some observers think Jack’s current career as a music artist may be a big leap from his college pursuit of being the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, but the two worlds may actually be more aligned than it seems.
“For me, the big thing about computer science - a lot of people may disagree - but it’s a real creative thing. I didn’t go into it for a love of math. I went into it because I think it’s really creative,” Jack relays. “You start from scratch, code for a little bit, and then end up with something that works. That’s like the same thing as making music. They’re parallels of each other. You start with a beat, then you write, and then you end up with a song.”
Daye’s inventive mind was on display for the “Save My Soul” video. The David Gallardo directed clip exhibited compelling artistry through simplicity. With just a spinning subject, colored backgrounds, and white paint, the Jack-Gallardo combination forged an art piece that left it to the viewer to decide its meaning. But of course, Daye has his own interpretation.
“There’s definitely layers to that video. A lot of things that drew me to making a video like that was the idea of being turned into a statue. When you’re a statue, you’re a permanent thing. You’re always there. Your accolades are there. People always remember you,” states Jack. "For me it’s the idea of being turned into a statue and your legacy forever being part of the society, past when you’re gone.”
Legacy is something the teenager is already concentrating on. As other rappers are just looking to cash out with a hit single or two, Jack wants to leave an undeniable stamp on culture.
“When I’m 25, some of my goals could be different from right now. But right now when I look at it, it’s like you have to have a reason to make this music. If you want to be remembered, you have to know what you want to be remembered for. You have to know what you’re chasing,” says Jack.
The next step in Jack’s mission to cement his name among the greats will be another project that is in the works. So far, the process is in the early stages, but he has already connected with producer/instrumentalist Mike Elizondo (Eminem, 50 Cent).
Whenever the follow-up to Soul Glitch becomes available, Jack’s popularity will likely reach yet another level. But does the budding entertainer fear becoming a victim of stardom lacking peace like the line from his “Save My Soul”?
“I think I love to question it, because it’s something that I want. When you really want something or really want to be successful, you do a lot of things to get there,” expresses Jack about the idea of fame. “That’s where my head’s at. It’s more questioning it: Is the end goal worth it?”
He adds, “A lot of people are happy, and they’re not famous or extremely rich. For me, it’s just asking, ‘Are the goals worth it or do these goals need to be different for me? Is spending time away from family worth it? Is locking yourself in the studio worth it? Not chilling with friends or going out? Obviously for me, it’s worth it, but some days I question it.’”
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Read other installments of AllHipHop’s #ATLRiseUp series here.
Stream Daye Jack’s Soul Glitch below. Purchase the deluxe edition on iTunes.