In early October word got out that THE Kanye West showed up at the Wolf Juice open mic at The Dopeness to hear his niece Jay Hype perform. I remember sitting on my couch that night debating whether or not to go, and then saw what went down on social media. Everyone (including myself) were kicking themselves for not being there to witness the great Yeezus in JC.
After that, all eyes where on Jay Hype, a young 18-year-old rapper living in Jersey City. She blew up. She was being interviewed everywhere and getting all sorts of media attention from the Jersey Journal to Hot 97. I wanted to wait patiently before approaching her, I wanted to see what would come out of all the media “hype”. I met her for the first time at an event at the Dopeness and it was love at first sight; Her energy, her glow when she smiles is truly special. I knew not only would I interview her but we would become friends.
We set up time to meet and we ended up spending a few hours together and I was able to get to know the real “Jay Hype”. I met up with her at “International Styles”, a barbershop on Newark Ave and after we walked around, took some pictures, had lunch at Koro Koro and then took a drive to her apartment where I met her father, J. Sakiya Sandifer.
Mr. Sandifer is a professional thinker and he happens to be Jay’s manager, her mentor and from the looks of it her best friend. I had so much fun getting to know them… to the point where I forgot I was interviewing and opened up about my personal struggles. Mr. Sandifer said to me “No matter what happens, tomorrow you will wake up, the sun will shine and you will have air to breathe” He is a smart man. Jay Hype will be a superstar one day in her own right worthy of a track with Yeezus himself.
What’s your name? Jay Hype
Why Jay Hype? I actually got the name while growing up… I was always perceived as reckless, an adrenaline junky. I’m adventurous, I like the thrill of things.
What do you do? I’m an artist, I don’t want to say that I’m a rapper because I don’t want to classify myself into a box.
That’s awesome, so how long have you been rapping ? Seriously around my junior year of high school… I knew I was going to do music since I was 3… I don’t remember this but, my dad told me this story…My favorite movie is Jackson 5: The American Dream. I was watching the movie and it was the part where they were auditioning for Barry Gordy, I looked at it and said “Dad I want to do that”. That was it, I don’t remember it, but he said at that age I must have really meant it. I actually didn’t want to rap, I really wanted to be a singer.
Are a lot of people going to hear you sing? Yeah, Andy-Mac heard some of my singing he liked it. My first mixtape there is no singing…After that my dad told me “you are not using your voice to its full potential”.
You talk a lot about your dad, what does he do? He’s a Business Development Strategist, a business life coach and author… he’s written 4 books.
What does he write about? Mainly he writes about his personal philosophies on living a fulfilled life. His first book is “Think, Think, Think, and Think Again”. The second one is “Thank You And You’re Welcome,” written with Kanye. That’s a really good book. It has some great quotes that I really like…one of them is…”
“Would you rather have 100% from an average person or 10% from someone who is outstanding”
He’s kind of like a young Buddha.
Is he working with you? Yes, right now he is my manager until further notice…
How is that going? Its going good since, he obviously knows the business being around it for so long… He grew up around hip hop, a great majority is from being around Kanye.
How does he know Kanye? He used to babysit him. My dad is also a graphic designer, at the time he was doing something for a magazine and Kanye’s name came up. He was like “oh I remember him” which lead to them reconnecting which then led to their adult friendship.
Do they work together? Yeah they have the book, my dad has worked on albums… My dad is like a consultant for Kanye, just the same as he is for me too, he gives advice and input.
There’s rumors that Kanye is your uncle? I might as well call him that, he actually started that… he used to sign his albums for me “to Jahmila from Uncle Ye” since then I’ve been calling him that. He does play that very close to the family uncle figure.
Does Kanye’s music influences yours in any way? Of course, I grew up on Kanye. The first song I learned how to rap was “Hey Mama”. Kanye used to come to my house and my dad would go “oh rap the song for him” and I used to get nervous and run away [Laughs]. The first time I ever rapped for Kanye was a year ago, backstage at one of his shows.
Were you nervous? Yeah, not because I don’t think i’m good but because I didn’t know what he would say when I finished.
Has he given you any advice? Yeah, he influenced most of my mixtape, he heard it in the rough stages and he told me you should do this and that. He is the reason why I did the “Lookin Ass (Remix)” because he told me I should do it , and “KOW” is obviously for him.
Can you explain him? Everybody think he has a huge ego, what’s your experience with him personally? He’s one of the funniest people I know, he’s a good person… It’s not like he acts without reason.
How did you get to the Wolf Juice open mic? I just saw all of the promotional stuff online with Wolf Juice and I saw that Petey x Kraze were performing so I came to support them because I went to school with Petey. I liked the vibe of the open mic and I was down for next month.Wolf saw me and he asked “do you rap?” and I told him yes and he said “why didn’t you perform?” and I told him I got you next month.
The next month came I was ready to do this open mic. I didn’t know Kanye was coming, people don’t believe me, but I realized that my dad was acting weird asking for addresses, I should have pieced that together and I didn’t because I was so worried about how I was going to do this performance.
went in at a certain time and I signed in after a few people, then my dad called me and he told me I had to go first and I’m like no that’s rude I already came in here late on purpose [Laughs], and he was like you have to go first somebody wants to see you…Kanye is coming
He was trying his best not to tell because it was supposed to be a surprise. So I was like “Oh damn”[Laughs]. I don’t get nervous when it comes to performing, I was like its time to turn up. So I went to Lana [Sez] and I said can you put me first cause my friend is coming, and she looked at me and then I said alright Kanye is coming and she was looking at me like what are you smoking dust or something? And she was like “Kanye?”… Yes West [Laughs].
I was actually shocked to see people’s reaction maybe it’s because I’m used to him, so I wondered why other people are going crazy, but its Kanye West. It really showed a lot of other people’s character as well because a lot of the guy rappers were more groupier than the girls were [Laughs]. But that’s how it happened he came in, used the bathroom, sat down and watched me perform, then him and my dad left. Even though he had another event to go to he wanted to come and see me so it means a lot.
What did he say to you after your performance? He compared me to baby LeBron in his prime when he was in high school when people were saying that he was going to be the next big thing.
What song did you perform? “KOW”.
How was the reaction after? A lot of people were giving me business cards that night. That’s where I met Andy and he was like “ I don’t want to be that nigga, but I’m going to be that nigga” [Laughs]. So I went to his house the next day because Wolf wanted to interview me, so Wolf Juice, Mega, and Andy did the shoot and Andy said I like your vibe I would like to do a shoot with you. That’s how me and him became cool.
He’s going to be happy that you’re dropping his name cause that’s going to be the 10th time he is being mentioned here… [Laughs] Yeah I know he’s all over Chicpea
So where are you at now? So far I am working on my EP to put out in the summer again. Do you know you DJ Tiesto is ?
Of course I do! he’s a techno DJ. I have a song with him right now. The stuff I have on my Soundcloud is a year old and not a direct representation of the stuff that I’m doing now, so I’m working on that, and I’m working with other producers.
Can you give me any names? I’ll give you one, I’m working with Q-Tip.
Oh my God, are you kidding me that’s dope! I went to his house mainly because he is working on a new album and he wanted me dad to come through to listen to it. My dad brought me just for the experience and the second time i went, I played him some of my music. He was feeling it to the point that he called my dad up a few weeks later and said that he had some ideas for me for a few tracks.
He’s a legend, that’s the Golden Era are you kidding me that’s awesome. Yeah, so the Tiesto track is done we are just waiting for the project to drop. I’m waiting to start working with Q-Tip as we speak.
What’s your plan for the future? where do you see yourself going? I want the EP to be done. I want to do more shows because I really love performing, and I like being in the studio.
The song that I’m going to play for you is called “Lit” cause that’s one of my favorite words. My dad gives me ideas for songs and what I should write about. One of my biggest problems is reaching out to the Jersey City crowd, I have a song with Petey x Kraze but it’s not out yet.
What inspires you to rap? Anything. Most of my mixtape its was just bars, of me talking about my grind . I have a song called “The Break Up Song” after listening to Wale’s verson. I liked it and made my own version. I’m trying to get into writing about my life so people can connect with me, that was a problem i was having with myself, because I don’t express myself a lot.
How is it being a girl in the rap game? Sometimes have to remind people, because I’ve been a tomboy all my life and just because of my sexual preference doesn’t mean that I’m not a female, so don’t sleep on me.
So what is your sexual preference? I’m not really into guys [Laughs]
Being gay in the hip hop industry, how is that for you? Hasn’t been an issue, but it’s funny when people want to assume, and not ask because they feel that I’m going to be offended. I don’t get offended over petty stuff, I’m a very open person so you can ask me anything. So I think its funny when people force me to say it or force their beliefs on me I get a lot of “you’re too cute to be gay” comments
So do you have a girlfriend? I have a person who could kill me by how I answer this question [Laughs] Yeah, I’m kicking it with Emily.
Mr. Sandifer, I want to turn my attention to you, so tell me a little bit about your daughter. When she was younger did you think she was going to be in entertainment? Yeah I knew because she’s innate, and entertaining is just projecting, she loves the attention. She’s good for her age, because of the ways she puts words together, now it’s all about the work ethic.
I wrote it in my first book “Talent, Skill, Discipline”
“It takes talent and skill to make the team but it takes discipline to win championships.”
Everybody is born with some type of talent I think Jahmila is in the “skill” stage and only time will tell if she’s going to become more disciplined at it and apply it. I define winning with her being able to support her life style with her art. I don’t want her to be a starving artist working at Fed Ex in the morning and rapping at night.
How do you feel when you see your daughter on stage? It’s a typical proud parent thing, you’re seeing that your child is following their dreams, and it’s something that is positive, and it’s emphasized because you had some part in it. I was the first defender of Jay Hype against the world telling her not to be great, which is totally unacceptable to me.
I love it. One of the things I always say…
“all of the things they told you not to be in school, this is what you need to be right now.”
You seem really close, cause right away when we started talking she mentioned you about 30 times… I’m proud, and there’s the strategy of what I need to do to advance her career, because it’s not going to just happen, right now I’m serving as her manager. I have to be careful to not walk that line, as a parent you’re going to say” what are you doing out this late versus being a manager saying “go in there and turn the place out” [Laughs]
(Jay) I think it’s going to be funnier when I get famous, he’s a natural protector , he’s quick to regulate things backstage, not even talking about myself but for Kanye he likes to make sure where you are going or who are certain people getting too close.
I love that you say “when I’m famous” cause you know that’s what you are going to be. I devoted my life to this, I chose not to go to college because I don’t like school, and I chose night school for a reason.
I interview a lot of people and I see that this is the beginning. (Jay) It is, one thing about me I don’t want to work beyond my time, I have no interest in getting signed right now, I have no interest in doing certain things until I deserve it. I feel that artist rush through their career… People just feel since I have a connection to Kanye, they say why don’t you do a song with him , I have no intentions on doing that right now, I want to earn it.
Q-Tip is not doing me any favors. He just heard my music and I guess it just happened to fit his sound. So when I reach that Yeezus level I can do that or Travis Scott who I am a big fan of low-key….. ok maybe high key [Laughs].
How long you’ve been living in Jersey City? 8 years
What’s your favorite Jersey City hangout spot? My hangout spot is my house. My friends like to call me basic because I like to just order Chinese food, but my favorite place to be is my house.
You have a performance coming up right? Yes, April 28th at the Bitter End in New York, I heard that’s where Lady Gaga got discovered.
I heard that’s where Jay Hype is going to be discovered…