One of the most important aspects of an artist's career is live performances. Without performing, it's hard for any artist, independent or mainstream, to build a solid fan base. Now when it comes to live performances, one important aspect of a great concert is the artist's stage presence. Meet 25-year-old hip-hop artist Jay Griffy, who is no stranger to the stage. Nor is he shy of it.
Hailing from the Bronx, Jay Griffy saw a lot of movement with his family as they struggled to make ends meet, before finally settling in South New Jersey, when Jay Griffy was a teen. Jay has been a frequent performer here in the First State, with live performances at the now closed Mojo on Main and Delaware Live on Kirkwood highway.
Griffy is known for his in-your-face, thought-provoking music, which translates well to a high-energy, entertaining performance on stage which earned him a nomination for Best Live Performer at the Philly Hip-Hop Awards. Jay credits rapper DMX as having the biggest influence on him growing up.
"DMX was just so real and high energy, he gets your attention, then drills you with his lyric; that's how I want to approach my music," Jay said.
With the tri-state becoming a hot bed for new talent it can be easy to get lost in the pool of other artists striving to make it. Jay has already begun to set himself apart from other artists by building relationships with some of Philly's most well-known artists such as Tone Trump, Black Deniro and Gillie da Kid. Griffy stepped into the world of writing when he helped pen the hook for the song "Afghan" for Tone Trump, which would later feature Young Jeezy.
His own video "Prayer" is currently at more than 21,000 views and has been featured on top hip-hop websites like AllHipHop.com and HipHopDx.com. Griffy recently stopped in Delaware last night at Delaware Live for the "Loud Gang Tour," which featured some of Jersey, Philly and Delaware's hottest performers. We caught up with Jay Griffy and talked about upcoming projects, his musical influences and how life experiences helped shape his sound.
Q: How long have you been rapping?
A: I've been involved in music my whole life, it was always something I have been passionate about. Started writing in school because class couldn't keep my attention. My parents saw that I loved music and tried to get me piano lessons. But I actually started recording and taking it more serious when I got in high school. I linked up with my management team Exponent Entertainment in 2009 and they have helped take my brand to the next level.
Q: Jay Griffy, is there a story to the name?
A: Pretty simple, they call me Griffy because I make home run hits like Ken Griffey Jr. (laughs).
Q: What first got you interested in becoming a rapper?
A: It's really just the love and passion of music. I see rapping as an outlet to express my emotions. I was a huge fan of DMX growing up. I loved the way he delivered his lyrics and how he was just in your face and didn't care what you think. That's how I am, just me whether you like it or not.
Q: What/who inspires your music?
A: Growing up moving from place to place and seeing my family struggle is a big inspiration. I want to do it for them and for anybody else who has had to make ends meet. The whole essence of hip-hop is about the grind and the struggle of trying to make it so that's what drew me to rapping. It was an outlet to talk about my life.
Q: How does it feel when you perform live?
A: The feeling of my live performance is very intense and in your face with it. I have a live band now so it creates a crazy energy that keeps people coming back for more. There's nothing like a good performance. I love going to concerts myself and when people spend their time and money they want to see an artist give their all. So I make sure I give 100 percent every time I hit the stage because that could be your only chance to grab those fans.
Q: What are some accomplishments that you have achieved, and are most proud of?
A: Landing some big placements for tracks I wrote, getting to hear my music on the radio, and working with my favorite artists. I'm just blessed to have the opportunity to do what I love and have my voice heard but most importantly I was blessed with great fans that support me.
Q: Have you ever made any contact with major artists or industry cats?
A: I have had the pleasure of meeting a lot of established artists. I actually am working on a few songs with some big names in the industry; unfortunately, I'm not allowed to reveal all the information yet, but just know that I will be working with a few household names in the industry.
Q: What's one tip you would give to other aspiring independent artists?
A: Take what you do seriously. If you want to make it, you got to show people what you have to offer. A lot of upcoming artists feel like people owe them something, but nobody owes you anything. Music is a "what can you do for me business," so you have to show people why they should listen to or buy your music. It's hard enough to buy 30 seconds of someone's time to hear your music so imagine the hard work to get them to purchase it.
Q: How do you think social networks and the Internet in general have changed the music industry?
A: Social media gives independent artist a lane to work hard and make their own way without major label status or contracts. Fans can communicate with you more personally. They can feel like they know and understand you more.
Q: Where is Jay Griffy going to be in five years?
A: God willing as an established artist on tour or maybe signed. I just want to continue to grow my brand and make great music. My project should be set to drop this October, so look out for that.
Follow Dominick "King Dom" Draper on Instagram and Twitter @King_Dom302.