Jaydahmann (Exclusive) [Interview]
Toronto, ON – West-end Toronto artist Jaydahmann talks about his “Mick Swagga Anthem” video single, upcoming plans and his special feature in former Mayor of Toronto David Miller’s book Witness to a City. Take it in after the jump.
HipHopCanada: Jaydahmann, welcome back to the HipHopCanada. Congrats on the release of your video single “Mick Swagga Anthem.” What was the inspiration for the song?
Jaydahmann: It’s my other alias. I came up with it back in 08′. In 2007, when HHC promoted my b-day bash and release party “25”, I called myself “The Black Mick Jagger” on the flyer, and then a rapper I heard on the radio, was calling himself by the name a few months later. I decided to completely separate myself from that, and transformed the name into something that they couldn’t deny me of and that’s ‘Mick Swagger’. I wanted to have an anthem as well to close the deal and have been looking for the right beat for over a year! When Iron Mike played this beat for me, I just started saying “heeeeeey, heeeeeey”, and that became the staple for “Mick Swagga Anthem.”
HipHopCanada: How did you decide which director to go with for the visuals?
Jaydahmann: Well, Claude Quammie of Ignite Entertainment brought it to my attention some months ago that he had heard the song, loved it and wanted to shoot the video for it if I was interested. At that time I was doubtful that the song would work with the mainstream and was about to put out something else, but around that time Claude and everybody I played it for in the streets were going crazy over it, so I just went all in. Claude is someone I trust as far as videos are concerned, my input is valued. He did my Youtube video “My President is Black” and when I seen the work he was able to do with that video, in 1 week, I knew the potential he had if he was given a few months and a budget to work with.
HipHopCanada: How involved were you with the video treatment creation process?
Jaydahmann: Oh, pretty much every step of the way. We worked on it together. There’s a Mick Swagga dance which famed Toronto dancers ‘Dainty Crime’ helped me to create, so we decided to go in the direction of dancing, fun, smiles and a lot of positive energy. It birthed a lot of ideas.
HipHopCanada: From “Anything” to “Mick Swagga Anthem” there is a noticable difference in the subject matter and personal reflection from one song to the next. Which type of record do you prefer making and why?
Jaydahmann: I think the subject matter is still consistent. I’m still talking about my jailed brother, still made references to the absenteeism of my father. The content is still there, I would say the delivery is different. On ‘Anything’ I was hoping and on “Mick Swagga Anthem” I’m celebrating. And as far as preference is concerned, there isn’t really a preference. Both songs are a reflection of me. But if I had to make a choice I’d say I prefer to make introspective songs like “Anything”. It just takes me to another place emotionally. Personally, I prefer inspiring over partying any day. But I do party and so I don’t want fans or listeners to think that we as artists have to be one dimensional. It really all depends on the beat and the mood I’m in. I created ‘Anything’ from a beat which was slow in tempo. A slow beat deserves some deep reflection and thought-provoking lyrics because it doesn’t allow a person to dance so you must provide them with another reason to listen to it. “Mick Swagga Anthem” is a fun track, something for the streets to dance to. I was just having fun with it. After all, it is a faster tempo and gets you moving. I made it catchy and appealing for the listeners because I had planned to take a risk with the verses and try three different styles. I’m a street kid so I always have the streets in mind when I’m creating a song. I always makes sure it resonates with the streets. As you can tell, I’m using heavy Toronto street dialect, similar to what you hear Kardinal Offishall doing. The Toronto neighbourhoods, a few of which I grew up in, are to some extent made up of primarily Caribbean immigrants, therefore our inner city is heavily influenced by the culture. We mix the Caribbean language ‘patois’ with modern day English and put a spin on it. It’s the way we speak and it’s also what you hear in the verses of “Mick Swagga Anthem”. So if you don’t really understand what I’m saying, it’s all good [Laughing].
HipHopCanada: Former Toronto Mayor David Miller published a book and you’re featured in one of the book’s chapters. Can you tell us about your involvement with this book?
Jaydahmann: The book is called Witness to a City. It’s a book that the Mayor did on inspirational Torontonians. He wanted to end his eight year run on a high note and profile the greatness of his city through his own eyes as the city’s Mayor. He profiled 18 people from the city of 5.5 million people. He contacted me personally and told me that my story of my life and my achievements were very inspirational to him and that he felt it had the capacity to inspire a generation. I took him up on the offer and got the interview and photography done with his team. We had bumped into each other a few times before the phone call but since then we’ve become good friends.
HipHopCanada: Has your inclusion in David Miller’s book opened up any other opportunities for you as a recording artist?
Jaydahmann: I have a lot of things planned for the near-future and I’m going to use all of my resources to see it manifest. I haven’t asked for any favours of my good friend yet, lol, but I don’t doubt that the will create other opportunities for me in the future. The book is a summary of our former Mayor’s career and a lot of people will read the book who may not have ever heard of me before, and for each person that gets to know me there lies an opportunity. But most of all, I have been blessed with a wonderful opportunity to inspire a young person to be more than what is expected of them through this book and I am satisfied with that, if nothing else.
HipHopCanada: Tell us about the new mixtape.
Jaydahmann: This mixtape will be a refresher for my die-hard fans who pushed my single “Anything” to #1 on Flow 93.5’s OTA Live and on WBLK’s Unsigned Hype Countdown. It will also open the eyes of new listeners. It’ll give you a taste of my versatility because I used most of the popular beats from the last few months and went in on them, that is partly why I called it “Just Gimme a Beat”. Another reason I called it “Just Gimme a Beat” is because of my chosen creation process. I usually take several months to put together a mixtape. What I did this time, was just grab the beats, turn the volume up, go into a creative zone and just start writing track after track. No real hooks or anything, just Jaydahmann, goin’ crazy on the beats. I did the mixtape in 2 weeks and its classic. It’s classic because of the lyricism. Writing has always been second nature to me but it has gotten so much easier over the last 2 years. I’m in that state right now where I feel that I could rock with the best of them.
HipHopCanada: Are you featured on any other projects coming out soon?
Jaydahmann: “Just Gimme a Beat” and the branding of Jaydahmann is the focus right now but you can anticipate my EP in 2011. But something that’s noteworthy is this track I did with Billy Burnz called “Higher” for his new project, it’s crazy! I’m also doing some innovative work with some of the top Toronto DJs, so it’s going to be an interesting year.
HipHopCanada: Which Canadian artists and producers can we expect to see you working with in the near future?
Jaydahmann:I’ll be working with a lot of the artists that I’ve worked with before, the most notable artists that I haven’t worked with before are Show Stephens and Kim Davis. Show Stephens and I go way back, we ran our high school back in the day. As for Kim, I’ve always been a fan of hers and I’m completely honored to be working on a musical collaboration with her. Look out for these collaborations on my EP.
HipHopCanada: Drake’s success has brought a lot of attention to the Toronto market. How do you feel this translates to added opportunity for artists such as yourself?
Jaydahmann: I feel that we are now finally considered to be a place of interest. So that means that A&Rs will definitely be looking this way so we have to be ready when the ship comes.
HipHopCanada: How has the local scene changed since you first got involved some years back?
Jaydahmann: Well, now the radio seems to be playing a lot more home-grown talent in heavy rotation. That’s good stuff! There are also a lot of new faces and bigger promotion tools via the internet. I know what I have to do to have my light turned back on so I’m going to do it.
HipHopCanada: How important do you feel it is for an artist to give back to their community? Are you involved with any community initiatives?
Jaydahmann: Well, I’m assuming you’re referring to a major artist with the resources to help out the community so I’ll answer it based on that. I feel that it is very important because 90% of the major artists out there would not be successful without the assistance, support and aide of their respective communities. Giving back money or resources is showing that appreciation for where you’ve come from and in turn that community will be in a better state and more likely to embrace, support and nourish the next group of talent.
I’m definitely involved in community initiatives. I work with Toronto Community Housing as a Community Animator on the revitalization project going down in Lawrence Heights. It’s similar to what’s occurring in Regent Park with the re-construction of the community both physically and socially. The community will no longer be a lower classed neighbourhood. The reconstruction will bring forth brand new developments in the likes of town homes, condos, businesses, a mixed community and long-term employment and opportunities for its residents. My role is to get the community informed and engaged throughout this 20 year process, to be that communication bridge between the community and Housing.
I also have a non-profit organization called ‘United Minds’. We’re just getting off the ground and we were created out of the Community Economical Development portfolio with a mandate to ‘work with communities, their partners and affiliates to promote long-term sustainable enterprises through economic and financial literacy.’ Right now we’re accomplishing this through our website connect-to.org which will eventually serve as the epicentre for everything socially that’s going down in the GTA.
HipHopCanada: Any last words or shout-outs?
Jaydahmann: I can now say that I am a lot wiser, more focused and more comfortable in the position I’m in. And to the fans of hip hop music- ‘I promise to do my part and always be a relevant and consistent voice, I’ll never leave you stranded again’.
This time around I would like to shout out a very good friend Daniel “Breezy” Vanvield. He gave me hope when I was considering shutting the door closed on this music thing for good. Also, I would like to thank my family and especially my incarcerated brother Yunchie aka D-Bert from whom I draw my inspiration from. Most praises go to God, I’ve lived it and seen the miracles so I know He’s real. Thanks goes out to Legend, who seemingly always knows just what we need to be working on. Thanks to Claude & his team and my dog Joel for their contributions to the “Mick Swagga Anthem” video, we did it. Big up’s to Dainty Crime and Deshaun from Mad Skillz, the video made dancing history. Shout out to the former Mayor David Miller, you’re still our Mayor. Shout out to Jay Bird of Big 10 Records who got me in the streets and shout out the other Swagga Squad team members – Tamara Shelly of H..I.T.M and Twisted Mindz Soundcrew. Finally, thanks to you HHC, you’ve always been real receptive towards me and I’m forever indebted. See you at the top, SWAGGA!
Jaydahmann – Mick Swagga Anthem
Follow Jaydahmann on Twitter @Jaydahmann.