Music that sounds like “...passion on fire”, that’s how Ohio-based hip hop artist Jay Wallace describes the music he creates. Coming from a spiritual community of people who called themselves Truelights, Wallace is only really now taking steps in the direction of making it a career. Within his family they sang hymns and it was one in particular called Love Poem that is comprised of some 60 bars. Wallace hopes to use his music in service of others and anything else he is passionate about for that matter. It is no real surprise then that music is therapy for him. Wallace adds “whether I’m happy or sad, if I can sit down and write about it I usually gain some sort of insight”. He admits though, that music has many purposes. The one thing that it does better than anything else, according to Wallace, is that it can unite people and inspire them to do greater things.
Wallace takes inspiration from just about everything when it comes to his music, with his first taste being the records his mother would play on her record player when he was really young. The records his mother would play included Barry Manilow’s I Write The Songs and Otis Redding’s Try A Little Tenderness. However the very first track he heard was Africa by Toto and Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On was particularly popular in his household. Modern day artists that Wallace also takes inspiration from include Death Cab For Cutie along with many local and underground artists from all over. Wallace wasn’t actually allowed to listen to hip hop until he could afford it which led him to justify his purchases to his mother if she disapproved.
So far, Wallace has released three mix tapes, an EP as well as a long player. He’s also known to make mix CDs of his own tracks and sell them along with other merchandise at live shows with plans to hopefully one day expand into bigger releases in the future. Wallace works alongside his producer, Brandon Isabelle, with plans to release an album by fall this year with a new online project called Look, Listen and Learn to be released in June.
The tracks featured on these released are inspired by writers and creative types from all works of life – everyone from Sojourner Truth to Albert Einstein. He also takes inspiration from Lupe Fiasco’s deep and complex analogies as well as the honesty in the works of artists such as Joe Budden and even Malcolm X. Other than that, Wallace’s raps take inspiration from life in general and the people he knows and things he sees.
If Wallace wasn’t a hip hop artist, he would still be taking a job that would allow him to live within his means and investing the money he would earn into himself somehow. He’s already a bit of businessman, choosing to do all of his graphics work, recording, video shooting and editing. These are skills that Wallace has learnt and saved the money to buy the necessary gear to achieve it. He also lends his services to other artists and creates funds that way. If he wasn’t an artist, Wallace would still be in the game in another form at the end of the day.
A couple of years back when Wallace first set up his social media profiles, people who had known him all his life but didn’t know about his hip hop encouraged him to continue what he was doing which is something that Wallace will always remember. He has also had the opportunity to record songs with artists from all over the world because of the Internet - he recently recorded a song with a guy from Lagos in fact. Often these people will hear him online and want to work with him without having even met Wallace previously.
Wallace hopes to have a career in music in the future that will allow him to tour at least three months out of the year across the US as well as abroad. He hopes to also one day license his music to a film or a mainstream release and mentor young people interested in starting their own business and reinvest whatever he earns back into the Beulah Farms, where he worked when he was younger, that would ultimately help the underprivileged.
Next month Wallace will set out on an open mic tour after developing a few online artist relationships with artists in cities such as Chicago, Atlanta and Nashville. He’s going to take some time hitting those markets and performing small and intimate gigs in the lead up to the release of Look, Listen and Learn. The goal is to take musical relationships and turn them into relationships with venues to facilitate the tours Wallace hopes to embark on in the future.
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