Jay Dot Rain is on his hustle. He has to be. Coming from Alabama, Jay Dot isn’t privy to the kind of immediate exposure or fanfare that artists from larger metropolitan areas enjoy on the regular. Despite this, the Alabama A&M senior has garnered attention from the likes of DJBooth and Complex in recent months in the lead up to his well put together mixtape, Memoirs of a Young Dreamer, released October 2.
Southern hip-hop, and more specifically rap music from Alabama seems to blend together quite a bit for me, aside from the Yelawolfs Gucci Manes of the world. To separate himself from his peers, Jay Dot teamed up with production team Blockbeattaz to craft a sound that is wholly his own, bringing in aspects of southern trunk music, jazz and heavy bass that complement his creative style of rhyming well. I caught up with the Alabama artist as he was preparing for a Friday set in Hunstville to talk about coming from Alabama, staying on the grind and what’s next for Jay Dot Rain. Read below for more in our First Look at Jay Dot.
Jake: What’s it like to be coming out of a place like Alabama?
Jay Dot Rain: Coming from Alabama, man, it’s just different. We don’t really get as much exposure as we should when it comes to music and shit like that. It’s kind of hard for us to get in like the blogs and websites and stuff like that, to get noticed by different people. We just don’t get the respect that we deserve when it comes to music. Everybody thinks of Atlanta and Miami and Florida and stuff like that when it comes to the the south and Alabama, they think we’re like rich boys or something like that but it’s not like that. No disrespect to rich boys but it’s a war.
Jake: You mentioned it’s hard to get to the blogs but you’ve had stuff on Complex and DJBooth, etc. What would you credit to your ability to get out of Alabama with your music?
Jay Dot Rain: It’s coming out of nowhere though, man, that’s the crazy part. I’ve been trying to get posts for years and, I guess your music starts getting better and people start noticing but I’m on the blogs daily just trying to get in contact with people and make those connections. I appreciate you and RubyHornet for messing with me, man.
Jake: Yeah man, like you said, the music kind of speaks for itself. You mentioned the music getting better though, what’s the progression been like?
Jay Dot Rain: Well, I really started in high school playing around with it with some of my friends. You know, we were in high school and we had a little computer program and we would make songs and just play around and show them to our friends. It wasn’t until my sophomore year in college that I really started to take it seriously, though. Just making these different projects and putting them together is a really tedious process. I don’t make tracks where I just rap on them, but actually write songs.
Jake: And this latest project was completely produced by Blockbeattaz, what’s it been like working with them?
Jay Dot Rain: Blockbeattaz, those are like my mentors, it’s more than just us being in the studio and just making music. Those are the people I go to for advice because I go to school in Huntsville and when I started I would record at their studio and me being part of that I would always get into stuff and ask a lot of questions and they took me in and took them on the road with T Side. I interned for them and kind of came up through Chicago for Pitchfork and it was about then I decided I really needed to get into it, take this shit serious. But yeah, they always are there and give me advice on what I should do, how I should do things and when we go in the studio it’s always good because the creativity is always on high.
Jake: Here in Chicago we’ve been having a bit of a music renaissance with the Jazz and Blues influences finding their way back into hip-hop. What’s the scene in Alabama like right now?
Jay Dot Rain: I love the music situation in Chicago right now. Vic Mensa, Chance. When Mick Jenkins started going to school down here in Huntsville we did a song together on my last project, I love those guys man. Down here in Alabama I’m hearing a lot of trunk music, a lot of heavy bass, a lot of 808, shit like that. We don’t really have like that jazzy form or shit like that. It’s more of heavy bass and just real grimy and southern, you can really hear it in our music.
Jake: Word. Your music, especially on Memoirs of a Young Dreamer, seems to have transcended that typical southern feel quite a bit.
Jay Dot Rain: I try to stay with my roots man. I’m really a big fan of like Outkast and the Dungeon Family and shit like that, that had the heavy bass and all that and I try to complement that a lot in my music.
Jake: Most definitely. So, what’s next for Jay Dot? What can we expect from you moving forward?
Jay Dot Rain: In the future it’s going to be pushing Memoirs of a Young Dreamer, just trying to get my voice out. Definitely more shows and just see where it goes. Becaue this is my first project with a major producer so we gonna work it as hard as we can and see where it takes us.