Hailing from the working class of Norfolk Ave and Garrison Blvd on the northwest side of Baltimore, Jayy Grams tells his tale of everyday life. “People in the city have a crab in a bucket mentality,” he explains. “They don’t wanna see someone get too big, once you get to a certain height..you gotta move out.”
Music didn’t just play a big role in the city, but it also played a big role into his upbringing. “My mom always played music around the house growing up, just a bunch of different shit,” he says. “What you be listening to ma” as he turns to his mom for her anticipated answer. “I listened to a lot of old school hip hop, r&b, Duran Duran and things like that to get me through the days.” He recalls “I don’t know who the fuck Duran Duran is but I was definitely bumping to it when I was younger.”
At the age six, Jayy Grams had to learn very quickly into how life can change at the blink of an eye. “I remember my mom picking me and my sisters up from school but she looked distraught,” he recalls. “She wouldn’t say what exactly happened but just kept her eyes on the road. Finally, we stopped in front of my grandmother’s house, and she turned back at us and all I can remember is my sisters bawling in tears.” He found out that his father was killed and they were moving into their grandmother’s house.
Through the growing pains, a 12-year-old Jayy Grams found his sound within his music. He first began producing his own tracks through the Booth App; an app that allowed him to upload beats and freestyles on the go & be heard around the world. This is where he met another rapper Vin as well as fellow LoWFi member Hayelo. They developed the group Division East and got a great reaction from listeners. “I remember the fact that the way the music was received, I never saw something like that before,” he says. “From people saying ‘Yo that kid can spit’ and shit like that…it gave me the motivation and a bump of self-esteem to continue with the music.”
After getting the great feedback off the work in Division East and the release of Jayy’s EP ODYSSY, Jayy continued to work on his craft despite losing touch with some of the group members over time. In production of his ODYSSY and Generation Z project, Jayy became creative with the measures he took to record it. “I didn’t have much money growing up, so a lot of the equipment that I used to record would be some made-at-home type shit. I used to wrap a women’s panty hose around a hanger to create a pop filter to use for recording. That shit started fucking up right after I finished recording that EP,” he laughs.
At the end of 9th grade, he learned that he would have to uproot his whole life and move to West Baltimore, which motivated him even more with his progression of his music. The release of his follow up ep Moving On, was a huge transition because that is where he was able to really unmask all his troubles and give listeners the true introduction to Jayy Grams. “This EP got the best reception that any of my EP’s ever had because it was just so true to the space I was in,” he says. “People could connect to what I was saying and how things played out for me in my personal life.”
Oddly enough, it took an Instagram troll incident to fully encourage his confidence behind the mic…
See, Jayy and fellow LoWFi member JBeezy; who’s a big influencer in Baltimore decided to put a post on Instagram; which showed Jayy an upexpected reaction. Many of the followers trashed Jayy and thought he was delusional. Something like this would deter other artist to continue in their craft but not Jayy. “Yea man…they really violated my shit. Even niggas that I thought was really rocking with me started clowning my shit,” I knew from that day that I had to prove all these niggas wrong.”
The next day, he released a freestyle video that by far blew those same people away & generated new looks as well. “Out of everything I have done thus far, I think that freestyle was my best work,” he recalls. “That shit by far really helped me get my foot in the door and opened up better opportunities.” One of those great opportunities included meeting Jonny Shipes; the founder of Cinematic Music Group.
That brings us to his first freestyle “Warzone” which shows the true artistic vision from the eye of the rapper. The feedback from the freestyle video was receptive with followers and gave him the buzz that he needed to keep the ground running.
This is only the beginning to Jayy’s story into which time will begin to unfold. With him & LoWFi members Von, Hayelo and JBeezy, their individual as well as group will definitely be unforgettable.