Calgary based rapper and professional athlete, Don Jayy paved the way for himself this year as he made his music video debut with his first 2020 single ‘Picasso Flow.’ Taking the next steps through quarantine, Don Jayy drops a string of singles to get us through the long days.
In Spring, the South Sacramento native released his track ‘NBP Freestyle’ and later linking with fellow Sacramento artist Free for his single ‘Kinfolk’ – which dropped early May. Following with another collaboration, Don Jayy heats things up with longtime favorite, Chuuwee for their new single, ‘Southside.’
As Don Jayy balances the lifestyles of being both a pro athlete for the CFL and being a music artist – he makes it clear that there’s no getting in his way in either lanes. As he continues to drop single after single, we’re anticipating a great year in music for Don Jayy as he goes forward with his plans for his second upcoming music video for ‘No Broken Promises Freestyle.’ Anointing his music with a classical touch, Don Jayy takes a refreshing and familiar approach to hip-hop and gives us something to look forward to coming out of Alberta.
‘Southside’ by Don Jayy featuring Chuuwee is out now on all streaming platforms!
XMPL: Who were some of your musical influences growing up?
Don Jayy: Gotta start with everybody West Coast. You know, Pac, Snoop, Dre. I grew up actually listening to whole bunch of YG. Lot of Mac Dre. Everything that they listen out up in Northern California and Southern California.
At what point did you find yourself going from professional athlete to rap artist?
I’m still in it right now, I’m still a professional athlete and right now I’m an artist. I haven’t really made the full transition but all I guess I can say is when I got the the CFL, when I got to Canada – I was able to kind of embrace me being an artist more. And that leaves me in a point where I’m balancing the two.
I noticed that you tag most of your stuff with $WAD. What does it mean?
$WAD means Started With A Dream. My boy D Fly, its my cousin, somebody I was rapping with, still rapping with – been rapping with since I was like 14 years old. His first mixtape was called ‘SWAD: Started With A Dream, Started With A Dollar.’ It’s a motto we live by. You know, we’re a bunch of dream chasers trying to get out of Sacramento. Just make something of ourselves and not really be products of our environment.
What kind of challenges might you face while balancing being a professional athlete and music artist?
I guess one of the challenges I can face is sometimes people conflicting the two. I think sometimes people think that you can’t, you can’t have a lifestyle of an artist of whatever it be and be a professional football player at the same time. It’s not true. I just feel like if you got your priorities in order and you take care of business, and that’s how I approach both of these things – it’s art on one end and its football on the other end – but I approach both of them with and work mindset and a business mindset. I love them both but I approach them with a business mindset, I think that’s what helps me stay balanced. I think I don’t dive too deep on either side. I just kind of stay straight narrow.
When I listened to your first mixtape, Jack of All Trades, I really enjoyed the use of classical instruments mixed in with your flow. You had released this project with Shaheed in 2018, looking back – what are some of the lessons that you brought with you since then?
Shout out to Shaheed. Shout out to Chim Chilla. ‘Jack Of All Trades’ is a classic in our opinion. We hope the world gets to hear it one day. But what we learned? We learned not to set a due date before you send the song in to DistroKid and all the streaming services or whatever [laughs]. We learned that we shouldn’t rush things. And we really learned that we had a sound that people could really connect to and after that tape, it kind of gave us the momentum and the motivation to keep going.
In January you dropped your single ‘Picasso Flow,’ which was when I first got the chance to listen to you – this was your introduction into the 2020 year. What was the idea behind ‘Picasso Flow’?
Well the song was originally just me picturing in my head exactly what I was really saying on the hook was, you know, sitting in a room and writing raps. And at the time, I actually had the idea from the number 23 movie with Jim Carrey – and he was like going crazy, trying to figure out the number 23. Had everything all over the walls and stuff like that and he was going like psychotic and crazy, you know, trying to figure out the number 23. That just kept playing in my head. That kind of went along with the hook and I was just letting off some ideas, things that were on my mind, simply. And the video – I kind of just wanted to stick with that, stay in that realm too.
Tell me a bit about the process behind the music video.
Shout out the Cheeze. MOVISIONS. Cheeze Staxx. My dog, he was just super ready to work and super open-minded. When I told him my idea, all we had to do was really just get to work. We went a got a big canvas, a big piece of dry wall – took it to his basement, went to his home, shout out to him – and was able to literally write lyrics from all my songs on that drywall and create a set, and that’s what we did in his basement. It ended up working out really good. At first, we didn’t really know how it was going to look, we were scared, for a moment, that it might look tacky, but we’re proud of the work and I can’t wait to keep working with Cheeze in the future. ‘Picasso Flow’ the video, all-in-all we felt like that the image, the visual we wanted to make – we hit that mark.
You recently dropped your single ‘Kinfolk’ featuring Free – tell me about how you linked with him for this track?
Free from South Sacramento. I remember Free, Truly Yours Free, I remember Free from, he was playing quarterback in high school, and I just remember I was a youngin’ playing high school football, watching him do his thing. That’s how we really got connected, I just knew who he was, he knew me and later on we kind of got connected with the music. I just know he stupid talented. His music go crazy and me and him have been talking back and forth for a while, passing music back and forth – really trying to find something that we can make together. I missed on one of them, and I had found this beat on YouTube, got it from D Artist, and I felt like Free was the perfect voice for it and he ended up killing it.
I thought the artwork was dope, I couldn’t help but noticed the different set of trees of each side of the road, representing your areas. Palm and maple I think? Was that something you came up with?
Nah, Damiano. Shout out Damiano – we let him kind of do his thing. As far as cover art, I sent him Meadowglen Avenue, one of the streets I lived on for a while I growing up in Sacramento, in the South. I sent him the little Google image of my address and he looked at the surroundings and he got pictures of me and Free and he took our idea and put it on the canvas and it just came out perfect. We just gave him a little bit of information, ideas, and he took that and ran with that so, shout out Damiano. Yeah he blessed us with that cover.
It seems like even in quarantine you’re putting in work, dropping new music. You also just recently dropped your single ‘Southside’ – can you tell us what listeners can expect?
Go slap ‘Southside.’ Shout out to Chuuwee. Shout out to big bro, Chuuwee. We been listening to Chuuwee since we was 12 years old, 13 years old. Shout out to a legend for getting on the track with us. Shout out to Litt Sherm cause he killed the mastering on the project. Shout out to Litt Sherm for killing that project. And Chimchilla Beats, he did ‘Smile’ for me and he came back with the Southside warning. He always knows the vibe I like and we think he made a classic right there. ‘Southside’ that’s out everywhere on all major platforms, go get it on Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, SoundCloud – everything.
It looks like we’re going to be in quarantine for another long while – with the drop of your latest singles, what are your additional plans in terms of music?
I got the ‘No Broken Promises Freestyle’ music video that finna drop real soon. We just tryna tighten that one up. We still working on some singles, we got an EP in motion. But for right now, I’m just trying to keep providing content, keep providing music – something for people to ride to for the summer and maybe something easier for people to kick back to, chill to, turn up or whatever.