Jake James started his career as a recording artist at the young age of 15, inspired by the Golden Era of hip hop artists such as Jay Z and Notorious BIG.
“He grew up as a kid living up state, went from negatives to positive, now celebrating everyday, no more public housing”.
Once he got to New York he recorded and released his debut mixtape – ‘Conflict Theory’. The release allowed him to build a fan base so huge he was then able to go on a 9 city tour nationwide, opening for artists such as Dave East, Moneybagg Yo, and Uncle Murda. So let’s jump straight into the life of Jake the Dream chaser!
If you were to title a song as to who Jake James is, what would the song title be?
“Dreamchaser”. Shout out to Meek Mill on that one. I definitely identify with the struggle and a way of life where nothing matters but the challenges ahead of you”.
What did you enjoy and treasure most about your childhood?
“My childhood was tough for many reasons, but I feel like it taught me the rewards of hard work. I started college at 15 when I was still a kid and didn’t have a dime to my name. I supported myself from that age and eventually worked my way out of public housing and got to New York City. I’m now out of poverty and spending time on my craft, everything I dreamed about as a kid. Sometimes the traumatic stuff that can ruin your life as a kid can turn you into a soldier too“, he says.
How would you describe yourself as an artist & do you believe in following trends to stay relevant?
“I would describe myself as a recording artist rather than a rapper, because I never want to box myself in to just spitting 16s or old school records. I dabble a lot with singing and other genres, and people seem to really love the diversity- ‘You’ll hear a lot more of that from me in the future’. Staying relevant is definitely key and consistency/good financial management can help you do that but following trends is never something I was interested in. Now a days you see the same image with the same sound over and over. Breaking that trend can help you stand out”.
In every aspect of life there’s always room for growth. What would you do differently or continue to do in order to achieve that as a musician/artist?
“In my mind, creating your own lane and your own sound is the best way to grow your audience. If people hear something different in your music, it gives them something to connect to. The business side is a big part of it too. Managing your money right is a big part of staying relevant. I got my bachelors degree in Finance to make sure I knew how to play my cards when I get started releasing commercially “, he explains.
Being an artist is never easy, especially when it’s time to get up on stage, how have you dealt with or overcome performance anxiety?
“A good performance definitely requires preparation, but I’ve never had stage fright. My first shows were in Albany, New York area when I was 15 or 16, and at that point performing felt pretty natural to me. When you hear the crowd going crazy for the first time it’s kind of like a runner’s high“.
You recently performed at New York’s Fashion Week 2019 After party. How did it feel to be recognized and tap into the fashion industry of fashion whose who’s?
“Fashion and art have always interested me and there’s a huge cross over with music. Fashion week this year was wild, and it was dope getting to mesh music and fashion and meeting creatives in different industries. Moving forward I definitely want to get more involved with fashion in terms of collabs and endorsements“, he says.
You currently have mixtape out titled ‘Conflict Theory’ which is your debut mixtape. Has the reception been what you expected and how has it contributed to building your brand?
‘Conflict Theory’ was the first time I ever released my music to the public. I basically dropped the tape with no budget and no real marketing push. The reception was a lot greater than I expected. It allowed me to build my fanbase for the first time, travel across the country for an 8 city tour, and sell out my first headlining show in Manhattan. The project tells a lot about my life growing up and the struggles I faced, so I feel like it was a great way to introduce myself to the people. The next step for me is releasing singles on platforms which will come in 2020“.
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
“The internet has done a lot for artists in terms of giving them a platform to distribute electronically, but it’s also made the industry more competitive. Now that you don’t need a label, every kid with a USB mic can drop a record on Apple music and share it on Instagram. Now in order to compete with major artists you need a serious budget and the right connections, not just good music”, he shares.
What’s the weirdest or funniest question you’ve been asked during an interview?
“Are you having a hotboy summer?” I left this one unanswered, he laughs.
What would you say your ultimate goal is with your music? What message do you hope to send out to the world?
“My goal with music is to inspire people to set their mind on something and go for it. I grew up in a super small town in upstate New York with about 1,000 people. My dream was always to make music but people told me it was impossible to make it. I grew up pretty poor and the chances seemed slim, but enough hard work and persistence made it happen for me.
Now I’m prepping for my first single and the kids who doubted me, congratulate me for doing something they’ve never seen before. Basically I just want to inspire kids who come from nothing to change their circumstances“.
Images Courtesy: Jake James