JYAY, a rapper from Carbonear, continues to put Newfoundland and Labrador on the map in the hip hop world
Jeremy Howell, known by many by his stage name JYAY, has been putting in the work to pursue his passion for music over the last couple years. Since first deciding to pursue rap music in 2016, he’s made a name for himself not only in the province, but the country, and is even picking up fans overseas in places like Copenhagen, Denmark.
Howell originally spoke with The Compass in 2017 about his hip hop endeavours. At that time, he was preparing a joint project with fellow Newfoundland musician OG Simpson titled Progression, a five-track extended play.
Since then, Howell has gone on to work with some big names in the Canadian hip hop scene including Merkules and Rob the Viking, a producer and member of Canadian rap collective Swollen Members.
On top of that, he’s gotten the chance to share his music outside the province, joining in on some country-wide tours, as well as some trips to Europe, where he joined with Merkules to tour overseas on more than one occasion.
This year, he released another EP titled 10/87. This one features Juno-nominated rapper Ghettosocks, as well as five-time West Coast Music Award Nominee Evil Ebenezer.
Howell’s work with Evil Ebenezer and Rob the Viking will also be coming together for another upcoming EP.
“I learned a ton in those four days,” Howell said of the opportunity to work with Rob the Viking, whose work with Swollen Members can be traced back to 2001. “That was really cool. We actually just released the third single from that EP a few days ago. All three of those singles made national Spotify playlists, which includes all types of music from across Canada – there’s only about 70 songs that make that list, so that was really cool.”
On top of that, the singles also made it to the Northern Bars playlist, which features the top 100 hip hop tracks in Canada.
When it comes to numbers, Howell says he’s a mix of proud and excited to see his views and listens continuing to grow as the weeks go by, having just recently broke a combined audio streams and music video views count of 1,000,000, as well as 400,000 streams on Spotify alone.
“It was really, really interesting to see those numbers really go up in the last little while. That’s definitely one of my biggest accomplishments, recording-wise, this year,” he said, attributing his success to the collaborative work he’d done with Evil Ebenezer.
One thing that hasn’t changed with JYAY’s approach to music since 2017, however, is his business mindset. He says networking and keeping in constant communication with people within the industry is what’s helping him stay afloat in the music world.
“When I go out on tour, say for example with Merkules, I’m reaching out ahead of time and letting people know that we’re coming to their city, especially people like promoters and stuff like that,” he explained. “Even right now I’m still keeping up with business relationships I made while we were overseas, setting things up for next year’s festivals and tours.
“I think that’s the biggest thing any musician needs to focus on – networking, and staying professional. Sure, you can go out and get drunk and party every night, but then you wake up the next morning like, ‘OK, what did I do last night, where are the people who are gonna help me out and get me where I wanna be?’”
Having toured with Evil Ebenezer and Merkules a number of times so far this year, Howell has now toured in over 10 different countries, stating that the opportunity to open for Merkules in Europe was not only an unforgettable experience in and of itself, but a perfect chance for him to promote his own sounds to a brand new audience, in an entirely different continent.
As for the future, Howell says he’s working hard to ensure his project with Evil Ebenezer is released in early January of 2019, as well as booking more shows and festivals in Europe. One of his bigger goals, though, is to begin work on his first full-length album.
“We’re finalizing some details on my first full album. We haven’t started the recording process, but the game plan is all set out, and I’m going to be working with some pretty notable Canadian producers and artists,” he said of the project. “I can’t get into too many details, but we’re working on some really cool stuff, and that’s definitely going to be my biggest project yet, so I have to make sure I’m ready for that.”
For those interested in hearing Howell’s songs, JYAY’s music can be found on Apple Music, Spotify, Soundcloud, and through his own website at www.jyaymusic.com.