CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Elevator Jay is Charlotte born and raised and known as the “king of country rap” here in the Queen City.
He’s made it his mission to bring back southern rap, but with his own twist. WBTV stopped by Elevator Jay’s studio to learn more about his style, his inspiration and the story behind his name.
“Outkast put out a song a long time ago called Elevators, and the song, I related to it so much, I was like man you know what? My life is all about ups and downs, so it was like might as well just call yourself Elevator Jay," Jay said.
As a West Charlotte High School graduate and a Charlotte native, Jay feels that representing the city is important.
“It’s my duty to fly the flag, so where I came up at, and where I’m from, the school I went to, the people I grew up around, that’s what motivates me to keep doing my thing,” Jay said.
When asked about his upbringing, Jay explained how he figured out from a young age how to tap into his own uniqueness.
"I was always a kid growing up who tried different things and wanted to be different people, but at the end of the day I knew, and my parents would always tell me and people I grew up with would always let me know “it’s cool to be yourself,” Jay said.
Jay explained that he started doing his own music around 12 years old, but he was always put on to music by family members and friends, that pushed him towards making music himself.
“That’s what made me want to get in my room and get on the computer, and try different stuff and try to make beats,” Jay said. “Kriss Kross and just a lot of 90s Hip Hop and R&B, that turned me on to what I do today.”
When it comes to a genre of music in particular, Jay said he figured out early that his musical creativity was focused around hip hop.
“I always felt like I was a creative individual, so all I knew, just from me listening to music, I knew I had to rhyme," Jay said. “Rhyming came easy and when I wrote my first 12-bar verse, I ran into the living room, it was my mom, my aunt, my cousin and I said the 12-bar verse for them, and you know everybody sat back laughing, but it worked out. That’s how it was supposed to be.”
Jay said his goal is to make it in Charlotte and a true symbol of the city and everything it represents.
“I just feel like if I don’t make it, at least I paved the way for somebody else to make it,” Jay said.
When it comes to southern rap, Jay explained how it differs from other styles of hip hop.
“At one point in time, we wasn’t really respected in the rap community, and it was hard for us to really make a name for ourselves,” Jay said. “You got the lyrics, you got the lifestyle, just the culture in general from Carolina to Texas and each state it’s something different, but it’s all southern.”
On every second Friday of the month, Jay hosts an event called “Player Made” at Snug Harbor, that gives people a taste of music that they may otherwise never hear.
Elevator Jay will be one of many artists performing at the NBA’s first ever Music Industry Night on Jan. 20 at the Spectrum Center. WBTV previously interviewed DJ Chuck T who is majorly involved with the event as a VIP panelist and spotlighted concert DJ.
The Charlotte Hornets are hosting the Music Industry Night as an event that will bring the music scene together in the Carolinas and will provide an opportunity for aspiring musicians to network and be heard.
Music Industry Night will feature performances from artists such as Sunshine Anderson, Ruff Endz, Dear Silas, Elevator Jay, Charlie Smarts, Sam Be Yourself, Jayway Sosa and Hotboy Lil Shaq. Featured panelists include DJ Chuck T, Tone Hollywood, Charles Whitfield, King Carter, DJ Chewy, JJ Solomon, Mir.I.Am, Free Noyz, DJ Ty Pack, DJ Trap, DJ Dellmatic and DJ E-Sudd.
You can find more information about Music Industry Night here.