A message of unity, hope, and encouragement to the youth of today...
LT: Tell us a little about where you are from and about your family?
Baby Jay: I’m from a small city called “Galena Park” which is about 1 mile east of Houston. Most people have never heard of Galena Park so I usually tell everyone from out of town that I’m from Houston but I love my city “Galena Park” and “Houston”! I have two older brothers and a little sister. My parents got divorce when I was about 5 years old and I was raised by my father. After the divorce it was tough because my brothers got involved in gangs, drugs, in and out of boot camp and then got incarcerated. They dropped out of high school. I’m the first to graduate from my entire family and also first generation college student. My little sister makes me proud because she is about to graduate from high school and she looks up to me. I want her to be successful in whatever it is she wants to do in life and I use to look up to my brothers when I was little but then realize as I became a teenager that I couldn’t look up to them because they were going in the wrong direction in life. They started looking up to me when I was like 16 years old. I hope one day they will be responsible productive young men and do the right choices in life. They’ve told me several times they will change but each time they get sent back to prison. Time will tell and I’m not giving up on them, but they need to prove to themselves that they want to do better in life and they have my support as their little brother. They are proud of me and tell me to keep staying focus and I keep praying one day I will say the same about my older brothers. My dad is such a hard worker (carpenter) and so is my mom but she hasn’t been able to work for almost a year because of an injury which has been tough. Even though they got divorce when I was young, I want to continue to make them proud and not let them down because they’ve been let down a lot.
LT: What made you want to become an entertainer?
Baby Jay: At a young age (5-6) I use to see my older brothers and his friends including the late Kolor Blynde freestyle in a room at my house, one of my brothers had turntables. This is when my parents were getting divorce so I would write about what I was going through and rap about things I liked to do like play sports, break dance (b-boy now), and stuff like that. Growing up I realize how powerful music was and I wanted to use it in a positive way to make a difference in people lives.
LT: We read you were influenced by Peter Yarrow, can you tell us more about that.
Baby Jay: He has been an influence in my life because of his mission of promoting peace world harmony and making a difference with what I call art “music”. My first music video was done in collaboration with his organization and his support which has touches of lives of hundreds of thousands of youth through the country and even in other countries. The song “Don’t laugh at me” was done when I was about 15 -16 years old and it’s the first rap song/music video to combat bullying in schools in America since 2006. Peter, Paul & Mary are legends and receiving the support of Paul and Peter is an honor. Mary passed away like a year ago and I never met her personally but her legacy will live on through her music and as a person which I heard she was such a great person. It was an honor to receive a “World Peace Award” from Peter Yarrow as a gift for the positive impact I have made in the lives of youth. He is so full of life and so much energy and I admire him for who he is and for the countless of positive things he has done in this world. Some people at first didn’t understand the connection between him as a folk artist and me as rapper, but I see it as two complete different genres coming together to make a greater impact in the world and I’m honored. I remember one time when I was like 16 years old we shared that stage together, I said “This is history in the making”. I still stand by my statement and hope to someday share my message globally.
LT: Who writes the lyrics to your songs and where do the ideas come from?
Baby Jay: In the beginning when I started rapping professional like about 13-14, the late Kolor Blynde was very involved with me on co-writing my songs for the first CD “Keepin It Real” which we later released when I was like 16. My manager too co-wrote a lot of those songs which most of them were his ideas and gave overall direction when it comes to writing on the first CD. I’m sad to say that on Dec. 30, 2008, Kolor Blynde passed away. I was 17 years old and I took it very hard and shortly after that I started writing even more. I started showing my manager ideas of songs that I was writing and he was very impress and also with my music production. On my new CD that’s coming out in early 2012, I’ve been more involved creative and even music production, but I still have my manager as a co-writer along with other talented artists/songwriters. Some of the new songs are personal experiences and experiences from friends and things that many people can relate to. My manager was a former singer/songwriter for a local boy group/freestyle group so he’s very creative too when it comes to writing. It feels good when an artists that I have looked up to for years tells me that my new songs have a lot of potential and they want to be involved with my new project which has been a couple of years in the making. It will also include four songs that the late Kolor Blynde co-wrote and it will also feature him as a rapper in two songs. He was such a talented lyricists and I felt so happy recently when my manager told me that I too have become a true lyricists and he stated that I was on my way of becoming a talented music producer too! I want to let the youth out there know that that this all has not been easy but with dedication, education and hard work they too can do the same in whatever they put their minds to. Stay in school and read a lot especially when you’re young and have a lot of time on your hands. “Be a reader and you will become a leader!”
LT: You are both a singer and a stage artist (dancer). Is it hard to be both?
Baby Jay: Most of the time when preparing for a major show I spend more time practicing my rap performance and then make time for the b-boy aspect of my show. I love to do both and b-boy does take a lot of energy out of me when I’m on stage and now when I can I have my b-boy crew also help me out on stage. It’s truly not the typically rap performance. My show is unique and someday soon I would like to incorporate into my shows my live guitar and piano skills. But I gotta practice more on that before I do it live.
LT: You are active in the "Cure Autism Foundation " tell us about the organization and what kind of work you do for them?
Baby Jay: I volunteered my talent and time to help a school raise thousands of dollars for Cure Autism Now Foundation when I first began my career and did it for like three years in role. It was free concerts and all the cash raised went to the organization. The school gave me an award for my generosity but the main reason why I wanted to do this is because my cousin has Autism and wanted to help others with Autism. I hope I can help them again in the very near future.
LT: Tell us about the "World Peace Award” you received?
Baby Jay: Peter Yarrow of the legendary group “Peter, Paul & Mary” received it for his efforts of making a positive difference in the world and he gave it to me as a gift for my efforts of making a difference in the lives of youth with my music. It felt like I was dreaming when he gave it to me at his home along with many friends present. An honor and I will hold this close to me as I continue my career.
LT: What do you like most about performing in front of an audience?
Baby Jay: That we become one by them helping me out with my songs by singing, clapping, dancing and repeating my lyrics/message. When I see that they have connected with my songs and I have impacted their life in some form of fashion. That’s when I feel that I’m making a difference and using what God bless me with in a positive way. When they repeat my name out loud, I then know too they love me and I definitely love them back.
LT: Your stage name is Baby Jay. Can you give us the story behind this great name?
Baby Jay: Growing up I like Jam Master “Jay”. My real name is Jonathan but I wanted to change it to Jay for short, but not just “J”. And the Baby came from having like a baby face from what people said. Also because I’ve been rapping since I was a baby.
LT: Tell us what is on the horizon for you for the coming year.
Baby Jay: Wow, I’m very excited about what’s coming in 2012! My anticipated sophomore CD titled “LUV & Respect” drops in January/Feb. 2012! My fans and friends have been asking for a while now when I was going to release the new album and La Teen is the first magazine publication to know along with the title of my new CD! I wanted to make sure I had the right songs on this very special project and not just rush it. They had to be songs that can be hits in mainstream but most importantly being able to still make a difference in lives of youth and adults. I would like my fans and friends to know that they won’t be disappointed and it was worth the wait! I will continue my college education as I promote my new album. Hopefully also try to break into acting since that’s another passion of mine. I’ll also have a book release shortly after the release of my new CD and continue my efforts with my manager with the “Perfect Attendance Concerts” ™ aka “Collaboration 4 Education Concerts”™ we produce for school districts. And whatever else God has in store for me in 2012, I’ll be ready to take on those opportunities to continue to make a difference in this world. Special thanks to LaTeen Magazine for this interview and hope to meet you all in the very near future!
Fun Follow Ups!
Favorite food: Chicken Alfredo
Top three hobbies: Working out, writing/producing, and b-boying
Be any animal: Lion
Greatest movie ever: All the “Step Up” movies
Best place to relax: Recording studio
Thing you buy too much of: Clothes, but it used to be shoes
Have Any Magic Super Power: No but if I had one I would like to be able to fly :)