Jayy Starr comes to the scene in a unique position. Sharing a women’s perspective of the rough streets of South Central, L.A. is what she brings to the table and she does just that in a manner so complete that it needs to be noticed. In a lane where many women tend to lean on being a sex symbol Jayy leans on talent. This is shown in great force throughout her latest body of work South Centralized which balances the trails and perks of her life in such a reflective way the listeners walk away feeling as though they know more about her than one would think is possible. With the swagger, confidence and skills of a star in the making we found it a great time to catch up with the budding artist to discuss the project and learn more about what really pushes the South Central product.
To those who are new to you could you please share a bit about your background?
Absolutely. I am an MC, songwriter, philanthropist from South Central, Los Angeles, CA. I’ve been doing music for what seems like most of my life. I am also currently the face of the national commercial campaign for anti-smoking, Fresh Empire.
When did you realize hip hop was what you wanted to pursue?
I’ve always been in love with hip hop. I remember stealing my sisters cassettes and CD’s to listen to music I really shouldn’t have been listening to. Learning lyrics I probably didn’t understand word for word. My uncle’s were also into music. They created one of the biggest movements in my area, IV Life Records. Seeing them go from hustling on the block to chilling with Snoop, Shaq, and being publicized on magazines in Japan, plus local major radio support was crazy to me. All inspiring.
Who were your biggest influences coming up and currently on your music and why?
My grandmother, who was in a gospel group, my uncle’s of course, Da Brat, Aaliyah, Lauryn Hill, Ludacris, Canibus, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah as I was coming up. As of now, I’d have to say Drake, J. Cole, Kendrick and Big Sean.
What about your art do you believe sets you apart from others?
The way I paint my pictures is organic and unique. Everything I say is my truth. I’m working your brain whether you know it or not, be it catchy club song or something deep it will touch you. Aside from that music is just the tip of the ice berg. I really aim to change lives out here.
Rap has pretty much slowed on the amount of women getting shine in recent history but it does appear that is changing with people like Dej Loaf and Tink gaining notoriety. How do you feel about the state of women in the culture and where do you think you fit in?
I love the fact that the industry is now more accepting of multiple female hip hop artists in the light at once. For a very long time it wasn’t like that. Media would try to create beef. Now it’s like, okay, who’s next?! I believe I will bring that female Westcoast edge to the industry. That’s what the game is missing and I can deliver it in a way that will be legendary.
Was it ever intimidating coming into this world that is so misogynistic and heavily male based?
Not really. I’ve always felt like I could hang with the big boys. I’m confident enough in myself and my gift. One thing I have always felt though was that if I were a male artist I would have been bigger than I am now a lot faster. Funny how it works, but that’s another story lol.
Your project South Centralized just dropped and I want to say it is great but it does have some dark moments. Could you share your mindset/concept heading into creating it?
I felt like none of my previous projects mattered anymore. This was my formal introduction to the next level of success. I knew there would be core fans listening and new critics so I just wanted to be an open book. I’m a lyricist at heart so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to really let the listeners into my head in between the party records. I want people to have fun, but I also want them to be inspired to be a better person. So I gave it to them without a chaser.
What was your favorite track to create on it and why?
My favorite track to create was Run Around. First and foremost the Lauryn Hill sample is was what sold me on the production. I wanted to piggy back off of the original, but add my own “South Centralized” twist to it to really make it my own. It’s a real record. I really feel that way lol.
One of the better tracks in my eyes is Gold Blooded. What was it like to be able to collaborate with Dizzy Wright for that one?
Dizzy and I are actually friends, so it was all love from the jump. We have a record together from way back called “Too Fly”. When I created Gold Blooded, as with most of my records, if a feature is needed I can literally hear who I need on it already. I reached out to him, we handled the specifics and the rest is history.
You mention your mother throughout and it seems as though she is a pretty wise person. What is the importance of family for you personally and how does everyone support you in your music? I find that a lot of parents aren’t very receptive to the idea in most cases.
Hi mom! lol. She is very wise, her mother taught her very well. Family is everything to me. I lost both of my grandparents to cancer, who both really supported me and my little dreams from the jump. I won’t lie, when my mom first learned I would rather rap than go to college she wasn’t having it, but nobody can decide what I’m going to do with my life but me. I was going to do what made me happy regardless. She eventually came around and now that my grandparents aren’t around she’s really stepped up and become my support system. As far as the rest of the family goes, my dad is always sharing my music and my sister’s and brother’s have my back as well.
Another favorite is Mine. You speak on doubters and staying focused through the midst of success. Being in the position you are getting more and more popularity daily do you notice changes in your life and the people who are in it? How do you deal with those changes?
I’ve noticed people are more receptive of your work and what you have to offer when you’re gaining a buzz. A lot of people want to be around you and thrive off of your energy. People that may have curved you a few months ago are now tweeting you “let’s work”. People that you know are now acting differently, behaving like groupies instead of friends. It gets weird. I keep my head above the clouds and remain focused on my goals. Things like that are trivial in comparison to the bigger picture. It’ll only get worse the bigger I get so I guess now is just practice.
On another note the west is definitely going through a renaissance period musically. Who do you feel, other than yourself, will continue to lead the charge in the future?
Kendrick of course, YG, RJ, who is moving up the ladder rapidly. Also, artists such as Curtiss King, DUBB, Jake & Papa, and Skeme.
What’s next in your plans following the release of the project?
I’m talking to a couple directors right now trying to work out visuals for the whole project. I am also hoping to really coin the term South Centralized and move forward with merchandise. My calendar is filling up so I’ll be traveling more, which I am super excited about. I have some other tricks up my sleeve I can’t quite speak on, but stay tuned.
Sounds dope. What legacy would you like to leave behind when its all said and done?
I would like to be recognized as a notable household name. Someone who inspired millions to not just watch me live out my dreams, but follow their own. I am on a serious mission to reach mogul-dom. I want to be known as someone who broke boundaries and influenced change.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers?
Thank you for checking out this interview! I hope I have gained your interest in seeing what I am about. Make sure you check out all things Jayy Starr at http://www.JayyStarr.com. Go check out my new project South Centralized! Stay tuned for what’s to come.
Whats the best way for people to contact you?
You can reach me directly via Twitter, @JayyStarr and instagram, @JayyStarrMusic. Hear tunes at http://www.soundcloud.com/JayyStarrMusic.