His goal is to show the world how extremely talented Trinidadians are, that they can make any type of music and it will be as good as or better than music from anywhere else.
Rapper and songwriter Jeremy “Jay Nahge” Labodie, 26, said most people in TT like “outside” artistes more than their own, and blamed radio DJs for it. He said not only do they play mostly foreign music, but when they play local songs, they play “stupidness like what colour a panty is.”
“Now our youths see a standard. They think to get on the radio, that’s what they have to sing. So you’re already training them to sing a bunch of s--t, so that’s going to be the standard.”
Asked about his own music he said, “I rap, I sing, I do the island thing. My music is very versatile. It’s a little bit of everything.”
Jay Nahge said he enjoys experimenting with his music so his hip hop, R&B, and rap have elements of jazz, EDM, soca and Afro beats. He also writes about real life and anything he feels strongly about.
“I have a lot of experiences with the ladies, so I guess I make rude-boy music for the guys who like to flex with a female, that kinda mac vibes. I also make music for the gyal dem. At the same time, I grew up in Carenage, in a rough place, so there are times I might touch on that realness of being from the 'hood' and seeing certain things.”
One of his recent songs, Samsong, deals with depression and self-harm, in the hope of uplifting anyone experiencing negative feelings.
He also writes for other artistes, including singers Arielle Alexa, and Keoné, as well as US singer Kira. He has also collaborated with local and international artistes on several singles and EPs including UK producer and DJ Kill Miami, Jimmy October and others.
Jay Nahge started rapping at the age of ten. He told Sunday Newsday he and his friends would lime on the block in L'Anse Mitan, Carenage. He would beatbox and they would freestyle. One day he decided to give it a try and realised he did not sound like the others. He rapped with an American accent, what he thought rap was supposed to sound like, and his friends loved it.
“When I started to rap I was just kicksing, because nobody in TT was a rapper. So I always tell people rapping is like me playing the fool. But now I’m taking it seriously. I was, more or less, trying to embody a rapper.”
At the time he was not a fan of the genre but when he started receiving praise for his rapping, he started listening to artists like DMX, Eminem, Notorious BIG, Redman, Drake, Nas and others, and he fell in love with it. He also enjoyed R&B, and jazz and started singing soon after.
But, he said, he only started getting serious about his music after leaving St Anthony’s College. Directly after secondary school he went to Roytec to study psychology, but that lasted about a month.
“I’m a creative at the end of the day, so being in that type of environment, I felt out of place. I asked myself, ‘What are you doing this for? You know you don’t want to do this. It have something for everybody.’”
Jay Nahge felt he was meant to be on stage. At 17, he decided to try music as a career. He exposed himself to the local music scene, attended music events, met other musicians, made connections with video producers and photographers, started recording his songs at professional studios, shot music videos, worked with other artists and released his music on the internet.
His first music video was Airplane which he released eight years ago under the name Yogi, his nickname at the time. Four years ago he changed his name to Jay Nahge to reflect his origins (Carenage) as well as to separate himself from other international artists with that name and the animated character Yogi Bear, in Google searches.
Around that time he released his first single as Jay Nahge, called Bad Nigg- S--t. “I was always the rebellious one so I wanted my first song to say that I was that person who came to break the rules, or whatever boundaries society had set. At that time, as far as I know, rap was not accepted in Trinidad, so me being this good will show everyone it has a Trinidadian that could rap is just as good as anybody else.”
He evolved once again in 2017, when he stopped performing with an American accent and started appreciating his own. He said TT always ranked in the top sexiest accents and he wanted to be the person to make others realise how “cool” TT was by making his music with it. So in 2018 he released My Lane, his first song with the Trini accent.
“After years of doing music I asked myself, ‘If you go outside and there’s a whole bunch of other people rapping too, what’s going to make you stand out?’ In asking that question I got nostalgic. I realised I could do them when rapping, but they can’t do what I do.”
Jay Nahge releases his music on a number of streaming sites, including Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, YouTube, and Audiomack, so anyone in the world can access it. He was also named among ten TT artistes to look out for in a June 12 feature for Complex UK (https://www.complex.com/music/2019/06/10-artists-to-watch-from-trinidad-and-tobago/).
He has performed at local events such as Carifesta, Decibel, Fully Loaded, and Tobago Jazz Festival and is ready to do more.
“I want to perform at a lot of international events. I just want to keep pushing my vibe to the world, keep flying that TT flag and try to be as international, as big as possible.”