Major thanks to Newark, NJ based Hip-Hop/RnB artist Jae Himself who connected with DCWS for an exclusive Q&A to discuss his new single “Ur Mine” and much more.
After reading our interview with Jae Himself, be sure to connect with him on his website and social media, and check more DOPE music from his catalog on Spotify.
When did you discover that you were gifted as a creator and start to devote time to growing as an artist?
I realized I was a creator at about 6 or 7 years old. I was walking around the house picking random items that I saw and thought of words they rhymed with or wrote stories on any empty notebook I can find.
Devoting real time to creating didn't come until I was about 17 years old. I was already writing rhymes but there was no format or song structure, just 200+ straight bars of words that I kept to myself. It wasn't until I was on a school trip with my high school music class that I decided I wanted to really sit down and study the craft. Somebody hit a beat on the back of a seat with some drum sticks and I just started rapping. Until then I hadn't really shared anything with anybody outside of my close circle so the whole bus got silent, all eyes were on me. People were amazed and I got crazy love for the rest of the ride. Getting acknowledged for something I wrote was the best feeling at that age. It still is. That's when I decided I was about to spend the rest of my life getting better at it so I can recreate that feeling over and over.
The REAL devotion came when I fell in love with the process of improving. Doing the work is what still keeps me at it today not so much the end result.
We're huge fans of your new single "Ur Mine"; is the track based on personal experience?
That's love, I appreciate it.
"Ur Mine" is definitely based on an experience of mine but like most good stories I had to add a few elements outside of my own experience to create a fuller narrative. I had to add bits and pieces of stories I've heard from the homies or simply draw from my own imagination to fill it out.
I feel like when you can successfully pull from more than one source and make it all cohesive you can make a larger crowd relate to what you're saying.
Can we expect a visual for "Ur Mine" to drop soon?
Honestly, probably not. We'll see though. When I wrote "Ur Mine" it was hella spontaneous. I didn't really want to put it out because it was a little different than what I was used to from myself. I even considered giving it to another artist who can better suit the style but when I shared a rough voice note that I recorded on my phone with the team, they really fucked with it so I just went for it.
Even after I recorded it in the studio I shared it with a few people to test the water to be sure it was OK for an official drop. Long story short, I wasn't really expecting to do anything with it so a video definitely never crossed my mind. I might have to set something up if the demand is there so I can't really give ya'll a hard "no" on that yet.
Would you say that your Portuguese culture and heritage is reflected in your music? If so, how?
I'm going to get flamed by the community for this but... no. Outside of writing about Newark, which is a beautiful melting pot of different cultures and heritages that happens to include mine, I haven't really found a way to take it and musically package being Portuguese in a way that people who aren't could understand or relate. It is something I think about often but when I do it I want to do it in a way that's respectful, skillful, and worthy of where I come from and the people who claim it.
Could I just randomly burst out into a few Portuguese bars? Yeah. Could I just mention that I'm from there? Yeah. I just don't think that's enough. I'll figure it out though. It's all part of the process of evolving as an artist and giving more of yourself to what you create. I share a lot of myself in my music now obviously but I don't think I've hit my peak in that regard. There's a lot more digging to do and I think touching on my heritage is part of that.
Tell us about your methodology when it came to releasing "Bones and Roses", "Saline", "Looks Like Reign" and "Brick House". What themes would you say are projected across these releases?
Every song in every single one of those projects was supposed to be in one big compilation. The original plan was to drop one 12-13 track project and call it day. As I was trying to figure out how I would sequence the tracks to create a whole experience from track 1 to track 13 I noticed patterns and themes in the way I was putting the songs together; like chapters in a book. So instead of sequencing one big project I had the idea to make it a serial release.
I pitched the idea to the team expecting at least a little bit of push-back because we had been planning one project for a really long time but everyone was on board immediately.
The whole thing really worked out because I had been on a 4-5 year music-making hiatus. What really cemented the serial release idea was it being easily digestible to people who are mostly trying to figure out if they even want to devote time to me or not. It was easier to tell people they should listen to three songs at a time then to ask for an hour coming out of such a long break. I needed to prove myself and earn their trust again. I think I did.
"Bones and Roses" was the first to drop and had to be my reintroduction. This was me talking about who I am now, dealing with my skeletons and the metaphorical roses I plan to get through triumph.
"Saline" is by itself a series of songs that from the first track to the last details 3 stages of a relationship: courting, dating, and the break up. The name "Saline" came from both waves and tears being made of salt water; a nod to the song titles and subject matter.
"Looks Like Reign" was just me talking my shit. More of who I am and what I want and don't want out of life. The last song "Famous" is a little bit of character study and a statement of what I expect from myself.
"Brick House" is an homage to my home which is Newark, NJ also known as Brick City or just The Bricks. Every record on there has a story-telling element detailing my youth or the experiences of others who grew up with me in such a dope city. I owe so much of who I am as a person and an artist to Newark. I'm forever grateful that of all the places my family could have immigrated to they ended up here. Dedicating a few songs to such an important influence is the least I could do.
With 2019 winding down, what are some of your goals musically for the remainder of the year, and heading into 2020?
I have 2-3 more singles in the chamber -- ready to go. The plan right now is to drop those before the year is up and then work on a full project early 2020. That exact plan might change depending on how I'm feeling or what happens between now and then for me career-wise but what I can commit to is consistently dropping more music.
I'm also going to put more focus on live shows in 2020. People are really vibin' with the sound and I don't think there's a better way to vibe than being directly in front of the people that support you.