Houston Music

Artist of the Week: Self-Proclaimed Genius Rob Jay Deserves Some Street Cred, Dammit

Each Wednesday, Rocks Off arbitrarily appoints one lucky local performer or group "Artist of the Week," bestowing upon them all the fame and grandeur such a lofty title implies. Know a band or artist that isn't awful? Email their particulars to [email protected].

A few weeks ago, we received an email championing a Houston-based rapper named Rob Jay. Now, we've been doing this column long enough to know that they'll pretty much give a MySpace page and email address to just about anyone these days, regardless of actual musical ability, so we took our sweet time before actually giving him a listen. That, it would appear, was a mistake.

Mr. Jay is unmistakably talented, possessed of a slick flow that is magnified because of his storytelling ability. More than that, though, he's got a song called "Uncreatively Creative," which is either a wonderfully clever satirical take on rappers' calling each other out for not being creative or a massively ironic four-minute stretch of music. Either way, we reached out and got him to answer a few of our questions.

After the jump, read about his non-ignorant status, why he'll eventually go Kanye crazy and the politics of the music scene.

Rocks Off: So you're like, a bookworm or something, right? You've got an actual degree from Florida A&M? Are you aware how devastating that's going to be to your rapper credibility? If Lil' Scrappy or Bonecrusher find out, you're toast.

Rob Jay: Yeah, keep that on the low. But for whatever it's worth, I was the hardest student in The School of Business and I ran my floor in the dorms, so I deserve some cred.

RO: [laughs]

Rob Jay, "Director's Chair"

Rob Jay, "Director's Chair"

RJ: But it's crazy. A lot of rappers are educated they just don't put it out there. David Banner was actually The Student Government President at Southern University; Serious Jones went to FAMU with me; Common went to FAMU and Southern; J.Cole went to St. Johns. So if they made it I should be cool.

RO: We remember reading some quote from you about how you've got your finger on the pulse of a generation. Kanye said something very similar to that. Does that mean we can look forward to the high, high levels of your own genius driving you batshit bonkers too, because that's fun?

RJ: Yeah, you can definitely look forward to that, but my style is a little different from Yeezy. I'm not gonna be running up on stages. I'm a little more private with my self glorification. I usually only delve into it around friends and family. I like to appear humble to the public, but around my people I let them have it.

True story, I was just with my homey Ed and I was telling him I noticed that when I start hanging with rappers their music gets better; like, their lyrics and everything just step up, and I definitely take credit for that. Because I am a genius.

RO: [laughs]

RJ: Summertime Johnny actually refers to me as the know it all. Nya says I'm arrogant. Real Talk, my hype man, says I don't know how to talk to people. And Hash Brown recently told me he's tired of my glory stories about the hip hop scene in cities outside of Houston. So basically once someone says something like that about me, I know they really know Rob Jay.

RO: What's the word on Art Life? Give us the deets. By the by, can you please start saying "deets"? We're trying to make it cool to say, except we're not very cool so when we say it it has the opposite effect. Thanks.

Rob Jay, "Art Life"

Rob Jay, "Art Life"

RJ: Art Life is basically a movement promoting freedom. It's just a concept that if you have a passion you owe it to yourself to chase it and find a way to turn that passion into a lifestyle. That's the only way that you're gonna be fulfilled as an artist. So basically you have to put the same creativity that you put into your art into finding a way to sustain off that art.

It doesn't matter what type of artist you are, because until you can really dedicate yourself to your craft fulltime you'll never be the artist that you were meant to be. But there is only one rule when talking about Art Life: Never define Art Life, only give descriptions. So that's just my description. But if you ask another person what Art Life means to them you'll get a different description. That's the beauty of it, it's really personal.

Rob Jay, "I'm Nice"

Rob Jay, "I'm Nice"

RO: Anything you want to make sure gets mentioned? Now's the time to do it.

RJ: First off, I think the city is sleeping on [MC conglomerate] T.H.E.M. John Dew, Hash, Kidd The Great, Floss, Presto, Thurogood Wordsmith, etc. Also, Nya, Atmosphere, E-Wood Kidd, Real Talc and The Poet.

Second, I want to say rest in peace to Mission Control. That was a special event and it gave a lot of artists a real opportunity to shine. The good news is that One Mic Monday's at Dean's Credit and Clothing is steadily growing so there is still a vehicle here for upcoming talent.

Lastly, I think we have to get to take the politics out of the music scene. It's really sad what it's become. This is one of the few publications that you can actually send music to and get it heard without knowing somebody. That's also what made Mission Control and One Mic Mondays dope.

And what bugs me is a lot of the people who [are] supposedly hot really are not that good. It's just they go and kiss butts [to] all the clubs and publications. We've got to get back to judging people based on the music, not what the blogs* say is hot.

* Umm, except this one. Definitely do believe whatever this blog says.

Check Rob Jay out at Dean's October 5. Hear more of his music online at www.myspace.com/robjaymyspacemusic.

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Shea Serrano