Jay IDK is reinventing trap music. A self-proclaimed ‘socially conscious artist,’ IDK, which stands for “ignorantly delivering knowledge”, has been delivering rhymes since his debut release Sex, Drugs, and Homework in 2014. Named the “Best New Artist of 2015” by DJ Booth and “one of the best options to drive hip-hop back into a new golden era” by XXL, Jay IDK intends to make a profound impact with his music as he is quickly becoming the new face of East Coast hip-hop.
A native of PG County, Maryland, Jay IDK was born in London, England, moved to the United States at the age of 2, and grew up in a middle class home before serving time in prison as a teenager. His perspective on life and his education undoubtedly changed after this life lesson. His experience through the American criminal justice system coupled with his teenage years in the DMV gave him inspiration for his career as a rapper, a narrative he eloquently penned and shared with The Huffington Post this year. Rapping gave Jay IDK an outlet for his creative expression, while providing him a unique career path to tell his story to the masses. When asked if hip-hop saved his life, Jay IDK said, “Definitely, man. There are no ifs, ands or buts about that.”
SubTrap, the mixtape that broke him into the blogosphere, was released in August of 2015. The project cemented Jay IDK as a true innovator of hip-hop through his efforts to bridge the gap between traditional “ignorant” trap and more lyrically dense hip-hop. SubTrap, which stands for “suburban trap music” as well as “trap music with substance”, is his reflections on his life thus far. Through the various alter-egos Jay IDK displays on the album, he delivers substantial messages from multiple perspectives about the hardships he faced growing up, as well as the drug-dealing culture. The different personas Jay IDK displays on SubTrap included Jay (himself), King Trappy III (the plug), Jon Jon (the street hustler), Matt (the crackhead) Ed (the PCP addict), and Chris (the honor student who does drugs to accept reality). With instrumentals that capture the energy and essence of trap music and lyrics that tell detailed stories and paint vivid images of Jay IDK’s different characters, SubTrap, as XXL states, has “proven to be his magnum opus thus far.”
Jay IDK’s success with SubTrap has given him heightened confidence in his strong work ethic. He’s described his work ethic as “inhuman” and “unhealthy,” but he believes focusing as much as he can on his music will allow him to fulfill his dreams of being a household name.
Jay IDK said, “I try to stay out of a lot of things that don’t have anything to do with advancing my career,” and that his work ethic is, “what sets me apart”.
When Jay IDK is not in the studio putting in overtime on his next project, he is on the road, performing across the country at some of the largest music festivals, such as Coachella and SXSW, and at some of the most renowned music venues. Recently, he supported rapper Freddie Gibbs on 17 dates on the tour, Shadow of a Doubt. Within just a year, his list of outstanding achievements also includes opening for Future, being nominated for XXL Freshmen, going on-air at Sway in the Morning and Hot 97 with Peter Rosenberg, and garnering a total of over 5 million streams on his Soundcloud and Spotify.
2016 is poised to be Jay IDK’s biggest year yet as he is set to release his latest full-length album “Empty Bank” on September 9th. The Empty Bank project has been hyped around the release of singles “Trust Nobody,” “Mentality,” “Somebody,” and “Sh*t On My Rivals (Interlude),” which have collected over a million total streams online and received critical acclaim. “Mentality” was named one of Pigeons & Planes’ Best Songs Of The Month for June 2016 and all of his singles landed on prominent hip-hop outlets across the web. Jay IDK performed at Peterpalooza in Washington D.C., and is set to perform at the Trillectro Music Festival on August 27th. Jay IDK also performed exclusively for NPR Music’s “Night Owl” performance on Facebook live, breaking barriers by bringing live rap music to his fans who he continues to show he values so much. With the upcoming release of “Empty Bank,” Jay IDK is showing a new level of energy and maturity as he delves into the overarching topic of money and the impacts money has had on his own life. Through sharing stories of his personal financial successes, faults and misguidance, Jay IDK raps about how people tend to believe they have more money than they really do, and in turn become irresponsible.
By mixing consciousness with ignorance, Jay IDK has captured listeners with his strong storytelling, hard-hitting instrumentals, and polished production. As he’s preparing for his upcoming projects, he will continue to incorporate everyday talking points, including money, home and identity, into his lyrics. Already with major support from music critics and tastemakers, including Complex Magazine, The Fader, Noisey, Pigeons and Planes and Hot New Hip Hop, just to name a few, Jay IDK has plans to continue his success in the coming years and become a superstar.
“I want to be a household name. Like a really big artist, like superstar status,” Jay IDK says when speaking on his career goals. “That’s one of my ultimate goals. Not just being good and having this become a career, that was one of the goals at first and now that it’s a career, the next thing is just taking it to that next level.”