Nigerian-born Hip-Hop artist Daye Jack is on the come-up. He’s been featured on tracks with Ariana Grande and Tori Kelly and doesn’t mind being an unconventional rap artist. He performed at the Hi-Fi this past Thursday, and PATTERN sat down with the rapper to discuss his roots, creative process, and hopeful collaborations.
Maggie Voss: Being born in Nigeria, how did your cultural background influence your musical career?
Daye Jack: The earliest music I heard was from my dad. He had an obsession with Fela Kuti, Reggae, and Afro-beat music. I personally liked Outkast and the music that was poppin’ in Atlanta at the time. But when it was time to write my own music, I found myself going back to what my dad was listening to and pulling from that.
MV: How do you feel when you get compared to similar artists?
DJ: I get compared to artists that I’ve looked up to even before I started making music. My story is unique to me. I’m a first generation immigrant who is still figuring out how he fits in society. Comparing me to someone else is dope if it gets you in the door to listening to my music.
MV: Do you get to incorporate your computer programming skills into your production process?
DJ: I’ve always wanted to make music. I started off in a boys choir. From there, I wanted to be a singer/songwriter. I found rap was the easiest way for me to express myself. It felt natural. My love for computer programming is connected to my love for making music. A lot of the themes in my music are based off of computer programing. The first code you write as you’re trying to learn how to program is called the Hello World program, so I named my first mixtape Hello World. In both cases, you sit in front of a computer for hours doing some task and eventually create something that didn’t exist before — whether it’s an album or an app.
MV: How has your music developed since when you first started?
DJ: The artists that I idolized never put out the same [sounding] album twice. They would always have a stamp of the music that defined them, but the music itself would constantly change. That’s how I want my career to be. I’m moving on from electronic-driven music to more pop songwriting. I’m trying to capture what’s uniquely Daye Jack with what makes a great pop star.
MV: What’s something that you’ve learned about yourself since entering the entertainment industry?
DJ: I’m never going to change. I used to see music as an escape. I thought if I became successful, I would have less anxiety and everything would be fun and grand. Being in the industry and being on this journey has taught me that success doesn’t bring you happiness. Happiness comes from within. The music is just an expression of who you are.
MV: ‘Hands Up’ has a powerful message of the relationships between black lives and cops. What prompted you to record that song?
DJ: Police brutality had reached a height of public awareness around the time I was in the studio. The issue was truly weighing on my heart. I went into the studio and laid out the track, but I hadn’t even planned on putting the song out. When I heard Killer Mike’s verse of it, I realized that this song was really special and it needed to see the light of day.
MV: Who do you want to work with in the future?
DJ: I would love to work with Outkast, Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye, and King Krule.
MV: Give a shout out.
DJ: Shout out to my mom and all the momma’s boys out there. I have a new mixtape coming out soon No Data. Peep that and keep it crackin’.
Being in the industry and being on this journey has taught me that success doesn’t bring you happiness. Happiness comes from within.
photos by Edrece Stansberry