Jayy Grams is here to prove you can make it out of Baltimore, no matter your circumstances.
The 20-year-old rapper finds music to be his calling — his ticket out. Growing up on old school Hip-Hop and R&B, Jayy lost his father at the age of 6. At 12-years-old, he began producing his own tracks on the BoothApp, which lead to the formation of his LOWFi collective.
Soon after, he’d catch the attention of Jonny Shipes who signed him to his Cinematic Music Group imprint. With Jayy’s most recent single “Hood Tales,” fans are exposed to a first-person perspective of his upbringing and the trials and tribulations he had to go through coming out the mud. His clever wordplay and storytelling lyrics cannot be overlooked, giving the masses hope that real hip-hop is still thriving.
AllHipHop caught up with the Liberty-Garrison native, who describes himself as a “very introspective person. I’m an average dude who likes to rap about things I go through. I always try to have substance in my music.” Read below as we discuss his upbringing in Baltimore, relationship with Smoke DZA, his new project, his Top 5 artists in rotation, and more!
AllHipHop: Being from Baltimore, how has that influenced your life and career?
Jayy Grams: Baltimore influenced me a lot, it gave me a lot of substance if anything. You always see a lot growing up. I know too many people who have the same stereotypical stories like growing up without a father in the household, same thing with me too. You put shit like that in the music a lot. The sound in general, I never try to stay in one thing. Baltimore has this really hype thing, they love to get turnt. It’s turn up and gangsta, so I try to get creative.
AllHipHop: Bring us back to the days you formed 1/3 of the group LOWFi.
Jayy Grams: LOWFi was me and my man from Baltimore, and another guy from Florida. We met on the internet, this app called Boothapp. It was basically Twitter for rappers, it doesn’t even exist anymore because it was that bad. You could probably search it on Google, but it’s gone. We were the only young n*ggas on there for real, everyone else were drug addicts. We easily connected, 2 young people who weren’t drug addicts who could rap. My mans from Baltimore wasn’t even rapping at first, he just had written. I’m like “these records are like how my records are, you just don’t know how to rap.” We kept him in the group until he learned how to flow. Eventually, we’re going step by step on Soundcloud, then YouTube. One day, we got in tune with Johnny.
AllHipHop: How’d Johnny Shipes find you?
Jayy Grams: I sent the freestyle, he’s like “yo, you got more music?” At the time, I was still recording in my closet. I sent him this song called “Hypebeast” I had, he said it was dope and put it on Cinematic Radio Volume 7. He said “let’s build. Come out, I’ll take you to New York for the holiday.” It’s one of those irrelevant holidays, like Labor Day. I didn’t even know he meant that. It was 2 days from when I sent him the freestyle. I came up, we connected and started recording. I recorded Grime & Basslinez, it was legendary.
AllHipHop: How does it feel to be a part of the Cinematic family?
Jayy Grams: It’s dope, definitely. It’s so funny too because I’ve been so silent. I haven’t dropped a tape in 3 years. I was still with LOWFi for a bit and my project wasn’t entirely finished how I wanted it to be. We kept going with LOWFi until I finished my shit. We’re still a group, I’m just trying to hone in on my shit right now.
AllHipHop: How’d you get your name Jayy Grams?
Jayy Grams: S##t, selling weed basically..[laughs] To make it short.
AllHipHop: When did you realize you could walk away from hustling and make a living off of music?
Jayy Grams: I was always a fake hustler. I sold weed because I love weed. I always had it, so I’m like wassup? I’m in high school, I might as well. I always liked music, that was my passion.
AllHipHop: You lost your father at age 6, how has that molded you into who you are today?
Jayy Grams: I didn’t even know what was happening. At that age, it never really registered. I knew he was gone, but the element of death didn’t really kick in. I didn’t know death in its entirety, I thought you could somehow come back. I was 8 when it really registered, like “damn I’m following the stereotype.” That s##t’s crazy.
AllHipHop: What would your father think about your raps now?
Jayy Grams: Well he was actually a singer, I can hold a music note because of my dad. He’d definitely f##k with my s##t because he was always a Biggie fan. I definitely remember him bumping to Fat Joe, so I know he’s a fan. “Lean Back” and s##t. [chuckles]
AllHipHop: You released the “Hood Tales” video, what were you going through when you recorded it?
Jayy Grams: It was really: how could I capture the feel of somebody who’s lost it all? In the worst situation ever. Not only were you caught up in some s##t you didn’t mean to be in, you killed somebody. You could go to jail. “Hood Tales” is bits and pieces of things that happened. I’ve definitely gotten in a fight, there’s been shoot outs. It didn’t happen in that order, but definitely a lot of true shit in that in the story.
AllHipHop: How often were you experiencing death and violence growing up?
Jayy Grams: When my father died, that was the domino effect. Also before that in2004, that’s when my grandfather died. My father’s father, it was back to back to back. It started happening more and more. When I got to high school, that’s when people you knew started dying too. Not only is it family, but random people. Your homeboys getting the bulls##t, f##king random accidents. It’s always been around me, but that’s Baltimore general.
AllHipHop: How has music been a coping mechanism for you?
Jayy Grams: It’s definitely an outlet. It’s fun. Music’s really my s##t bro. I love music. Certain people are born for this shit. I’m a writer, music is the outlet I choose to write with.
AllHipHop: Congrats on releasing Every Gram Counts. What’s the significance in the title?
Jayy Grams: Appreciate you. Everything I do counts. Every little move I make counts. Every bit of music I put on that project counted. Everything is a triple entendre for real. Every versatile song, I try to put a bunch of flavors on there. Every Gram Counts.
AllHipHop: What songs mean the most to you and why?
Jayy Grams: “ROSES” explains me as a person more than any other song on there. “Light Yagami” because it’s leaping me into this next project I’m doing right now. It’s the intro to a movie low key. Even though it’s an outro, it’s about to be an intro to a movie. “Keanu” too, I put that on there to show the versatility. I could go either way, it doesn’t matter.
AllHipHop: Do you feel like real Hip-Hop is hard to be seen nowadays?
Jayy Grams: Hell no. It’s ways of looking at it, people don’t want to look at it at this point. Anybody I hear say that, you doen’t want to look. Hip-Hop’s almost mainstream now. Griselda, so many people putting on for rap.
Jayy Grams: DZA’s my f##king my mentor right now. DZA’s definitely the OG. He’s passing me the baton, I have to seize the moment. He’s been guiding me. We have the same ear for beats, it’s crazy. Everything’s been real authentic with us. He came into the session, he’s like “yo this beat is hard. Let me hop on this.” He did his verse first, I put mine on second. We kept going on after that.
AllHipHop: What is it about him that you guys vibe so well?
Jayy Grams: We both like weed. If he’s the Kush God, I’m the Kush Demigod. He’s a genuine ass person. You never know when you click with people. When you click with someone, the music’s going to be inevitable.
AllHipHop: Who are your Top 5 artists in rotation?
Jayy Grams: It’s going to be Kendrick, Kendrick’s always finessing his way into my s##t. Rio Da Young OG, he be spazzing but he’s hilarious. My mans Babyface Ray, I f##k with him a lot. Sleepy Hallow from New York, I’ve been bumping his song on a lot. And Lil Baby.
AllHipHop: What are some goals for yourself at this point of your career?
Jayy Grams: I’m trying to drop 3 more projects this year. I want to get a lot more features, I only got a feature with DZA. I need to record with a lot more people in Baltimore.
AllHipHop: Do you freestyle or do you write?
Jayy Grams: I write. I write my ass off. I can freestyle freestyle. I freestyle a good amount of songs, but I’m stuck in my ways.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Jayy Grams: I got a lot s##t coming. I’m working right now, that’s not the end. I got too much s##t coming. Every Gram Counts is out now! We out here.