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Get ready to delve into the world of music as we bring you an exclusive interview with the up-and-coming rap sensation, Jayo Freeman.

Photography by Caleb Foster | Words by Raya Biasca | Grooming by Obie "Mizzay" Cuts
Photography by Caleb Foster

In a landscape where authenticity is held in high esteem, Jayo Freeman emerges as an artist fearlessly baring his soul through his rhymes, weaving compelling narratives that mirror his personal experiences, dreams, and struggles, drawing listeners into a world that is both familiar and enlightening.

Jayo Freeman’s journey into rap music began in the most organic and spontaneous way possible. It all started during his college days when he and his friends would gather in a dorm room, immersing themselves in the world of freestyling. With nothing but a laptop and a passion for music, he crafted his very first song, capturing the essence of their student life and experiences. The creative energy in that room sparked something within Jayo, leading him to take his first steps as a rapper. It marked the beginning of his rap journey, where he embraced his unique voice and began crafting compelling stories through his music.

Jayo Freeman’s roots are firmly planted in the vibrant city of New York. His family’s ties to Brooklyn run deep, with several of his relatives residing in a single house, creating a close-knit environment. However, due to limited space, Jayo’s mother eventually moved to Manhattan, where she gave birth to Jayo and his siblings. Despite growing up in Manhattan, Jayo’s heart remains connected to Brooklyn, regularly visiting his hometown to maintain a strong bond with his extended family. Currently, he calls Brooklyn his home, embracing the city’s rich culture and artistic energy as he continues to pursue his rap career.

Photography by Caleb Foster

During his childhood, Jayo found inspiration in several role models, particularly in his family. His older brother played a significant role in his life, teaching him about strength, being a fan of Allen Iverson, and imparting life skills such as playing sports, interacting with others, and even navigating relationships with females. Additionally, his basketball coach had a profound impact on him, instilling values of punctuality, responsibility, and leadership.

As an adult, Jayo admires his uncle, Mallah, who moved to Queens and became a source of inspiration for him. Mallah’s passion for cars and his accomplishments, including owning his own house and car, served as a beacon of success for Jayo.

Rap music stands apart from other genres in several significant ways, as Jayo explains. One key factor is the rich history embedded within rap, which sets it apart from other musical styles. Over the years, rap has evolved and transformed, with pioneers and influential figures paving the way for its current state. This historical aspect brings a unique depth and significance to rap, as artists pay homage to their predecessors while pushing the boundaries of the genre.

Moreover, rap has become a powerful platform for storytelling, allowing artists to address and shed light on American struggles and societal issues. This ability to use music as a means of expression and advocacy creates a strong bond between the artists and their audience.

Unlike some other genres, rap music’s cultural significance and powerful storytelling elements contribute to its distinctive identity and impact on listeners.

For Jayo, the best thing about being a rapper lies in the ability to express himself freely through his music. Being a rapper has opened doors for him to travel to new places, collaborate with fellow creators, and step out of his comfort zone creatively. The prospect of providing generational wealth for his family through his art is another gratifying aspect of his journey. His passion for self-expression and dedication to his craft fuels his determination to make a lasting impact in the rap scene and create a legacy for his loved ones.

Photography by Caleb Foster

One of the biggest misconceptions about rappers, as Jayo points out, is the association of rap music with violence. He emphasizes that while some artists may touch on difficult experiences, their intention is not to promote violence but rather to share their personal stories and offer a call for help and understanding. Rappers often use their music as a platform to express the struggles they’ve faced and to advocate for positive change in their lives and communities. It’s essential to recognize that rap is a diverse genre with artists who use their platform to address a wide range of issues and emotions.

His creative process in making a song is deeply rooted in personal experiences and relatable imagery. He draws inspiration from various moments in life, whether they be joyful or reflective, and transforms them into compelling lyrics and melodies. Some songs are born from situations that brought him immense happiness or left a lasting impact, while others delve into universal themes like going to school or facing the challenges of a workday. Jayo’s goal is to craft songs that resonate with people, tapping into shared experiences that many can relate to. Additionally, he embraces the opportunity to explore perspectives beyond his own, expressing a genuine interest in writing songs about female experiences to provide diverse narratives and perspectives. By infusing his music with genuine emotions and relatable imagery, Jayo ensures his songs not only connect with his own experiences but also offer a diverse and inclusive range of themes that listeners from various walks of life can appreciate and find solace in.

When asked what he hopes people take away from his music, Jayo said that he hopes they see his music as bigger than music. “That ‘s a message and energy. That there’s a positive energy and positive message behind a lot of my songs and I hope people take away that I’m very creative and that people in New York are very creative.”

Jayo Freeman’s debut song, “Mood,” holds significant emotional weight as it delves into his personal journey as a rapper and the challenges he faced in his family life. In the song, he openly expresses his aspirations as a musician, sharing the goals he aims to achieve in his rap career. Furthermore, “Mood” becomes a heartfelt outlet for him to reflect on the hardships he endured, including the loss of his mother during his high school years and the prolonged absence of his brother who was incarcerated for eight years. Through his music, Jayo finds a powerful means of catharsis, laying bare the experiences and emotions that have shaped his life.

His music taste reflects a deep appreciation for rap albums that resonate with his New York roots and passion for lyrical storytelling. Two albums that are currently his favorites are “Pink Tape” by Lil Uzi Vert and Young Thug’s “Business Is Business.” When it comes to albums with no skips, Lil Baby’s “Voice Of The Heroes” featuring Lil Durk takes the top spot for him.

He also has encountered songs that he wishes he had created himself, especially those that capture the essence of New York’s rich history and energetic vibes. Among these songs are Kanye West and Alicia Keys’ “City of Gods” and Ice Spice’s “Munch (Feelin’ U),” which embody the city’s spirit and inspire him to be a part of its musical legacy.

In the realm of GOAT verses, Jayo acknowledges the legendary impact of Biggie’s iconic verse from “Juicy”: “It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! magazine · Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine.” He praises the blend of New York gangster rap with lyrical prowess, using words that resonate with listeners and solidify Biggie’s status as a true rap icon.

Looking towards the future, Jayo has exciting plans for collaborations, expressing his desire to work with renowned artists like Pharell and Future.

In the spirit of supporting fellow artists, Jayo recommends listening to underrated rap talents like riorio at Spotify and Yoshi 24k. His willingness to uplift and shine a spotlight on emerging artists showcases his dedication to the rap community and his passion for discovering fresh and promising talents.

Throughout Jayo Freeman’s journey as a rising rapper, there have been several influential figures who believed in his talent and potential. Among them, Jayo credits his mom and brother for being the first to believe in him, providing unwavering support and encouragement. Their belief in his abilities served as a driving force, propelling him forward in pursuing his passion for music. Additionally, he expresses immense gratitude towards his best friend, Evan, who has played a pivotal role in his musical journey. Evan’s constant support and motivation have been instrumental in keeping Jayo going, serving as a pillar of strength and inspiration throughout his career.

Photography by Caleb Foster

His journey in the rap industry has been shaped by valuable advice that has become the foundation of his approach to music and life. One significant piece of wisdom he holds dear is “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” This motto has instilled in him a sense of responsibility and determination to take charge of his own creative process, ensuring that his music is a true reflection of his vision and artistry.

Another important piece of advice that resonates with Jayo is to always be true to oneself, embracing his unique identity and individuality in the world of rap. Philosophy-wise, Jayo believes in a higher power, and this belief drives him to do his best in every aspect of his life. He lives by the philosophy of giving his all, recognizing that pain is temporary and that perseverance and hard work are essential to achieving his goals. This positive outlook empowers him to push through challenges and keep moving forward, staying focused on his musical aspirations.

As the rap industry continues to evolve, artists like Jayo Freeman are blazing a trail of their own, offering a fresh voice and unique perspective in the world of hip-hop. Through this exclusive interview, we’ve gained a glimpse into the mind and heart of a rising rap star, understanding the passion, dedication, and authenticity that drive his music. We eagerly anticipate the future projects and milestones he has in store. Keep an eye on this rising rap star, for Jayo Freeman is undoubtedly one to watch in the music industry.

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