Mano-a-mano. Win or lose. It’s a rhyming, griming extravaganza to the death (not really) with Red Bull Studios latest project, Grime-A-Side. This unique event sees 8 teams from 8 rival cities compete in a knock-out tournament, battling it out to see once and for all who really is the UK’s best grime squad.
Red Bull Studios handpicked one grime MC for each UK city and gave them the daunting but great honour of being team captain. The captains then had to recruit two of their best local MCs to rep their ends. This decision was crucial, as a solid crew is the key to whether you’re going in or going home. The artists include the likes of AJ Tracey repping London and Eyez fighting for Derby. Each team hauls it over to Red Bull Studios in London Bridge, where they’re given a beat and are set loose to show what they’re really made of.
The battles are then posted on the site, and hold on to your seats because this is where it gets real interesting. The team’s fate falls completely on to the public (we know how Britain loves our voting), who have to decide and vote for whose bars flow the hardest – based on delivery, flow and originality. The team with the most votes will move forward, while the ones with the least will have to pack up their stuff and head home defeated. The battles will continue to knock teams out one by one until there’s only one team left standing victorious.
Wonderland linked up with Brummie captain, Jaykae, to get the inside scoop on his team, made up of himself, Deadly and Mayhem. While we were at it, we learnt a little bit more about the man with over a million views on YouTube.
How did you come up with the name Jaykae? Do you mind if I ask your real name?
It’s my initials from my name. And the way that I spell it was from when I used to mess around. And that’s how I used to spell it.
How did you end up getting involved with the Grime-A-Side tournament?
Initially how they contacted me, I can’t remember. Well I found out about it literally like 2 days before the quarter final. I didn’t know how serious it was gonna be until we’d actually gone there and done it. So yeah, I’m looking forward to the next round.
Red Bull Studios chose captains, did they tell you why they chose you?
They never said specifically why, but I can only imagine it’s because I’m doing good things for Birmingham.
Tell me about your team members: Deadly and Mayhem. Why did you chose for the team?
As much as I’m friends with them growing up, those two specifically were two big MCs that used to clash everybody, anywhere. Mayhem and Deadly used to just kill off everybody any chance they could. Any set, it would be Mayhem and Deadly going at people’s necks and killing them. So I thought for anyone to go and represent Birmingham, I had to get two warmongers; they’re perfect for it.
How would you describe the Grime-A-Side tournament? What’s the atmosphere like, battling other artists?
It’s like a set, but it can get sticky because your name can get mentioned. Yeah it’s personal in the sense that, you’re just spitting bars normally. It’s personal because you know you have to direct it at people, and they’re gonna be directing it at you, so you have to do as big of a performance as you can. That’s what I come into, that’s what I’ve grew up doing. Clashing and sets and things like that, it fits perfectly for me.
Tell me about your track ‘Toothache’. What was the inspiration behind it?
Well initially I had a toothache, when I was writing it. When I told people that the song’s called toothache, people were like: what do you mean toothache? Because, I got the tattoo ‘2 real’ on my hand. It’s the same as ‘too real, too fake’, and I thought, that actually works. So I ran with it.
That was literally like my comeback, so I had to like get a lot of things off my chest. So that’s why it’s so abrupt and so many things get highlighted in the song because I felt like I needed to do that. I cleaned my slate basically, cleaned my whole slate, and came back.
How does it feel knowing that your video has gotten over 1 million views on Youtube?
We saw it coming, because we saw how quickly the video was going, so we knew eventually, it was going to hit it. And then, the day before my birthday, it hit a million views, so we just popped a bottle of champagne, and had a bit of a good time. And since then I’ve had another one hit a million views, so I’m just hoping to see a few more.
Obviously like, the instrumental is sick – Thomas Mellor produced it – the instrumental gets people. Even the way that I start the song – like the first two lyrics on the song grabs people straight away, it’s interesting. And in terms of the video, I know it’s a good tune because the video is just me on my own. So it’s not like people are coming back on YouTube and just watching me over and over again, they’re watching cause they wanna listen to the song.
Growing up performing, was it always your plan to go into music?
Just in the sense of performing – because I can act as well – but I haven’t gone into that yet. So in the sense of performing arts, I always wanted to perform. But then I really got into music and I started taking it seriously from when I was about 18 or 19 years old. And I put a lot into it, to the point that my whole family knows what I’m trying to do. It took me a while to take it seriously, but now I see that I can make a good future from it. But I’m not trying to stop, I’m not gonna stop now.
So you can act – would you ever branch out into acting? Is that something you want to do?
At some point, definitely. I’d have to find a good role to suit me though. But yeah, I definitely would. I’m 25 at the moment, so I’m lucky enough to have years on my side. So I could put 5 years into music and then see where acting takes me. Or the music might take me into acting, or I could even find a role acting through my connections, you know?
Who are your influences? Would you want to collaborate with anyone?
I don’t know! In terms of people that I’ve always listened to, I’d say Biggie – even Amy Winehouse – she’s someone who I’ve always wanted to collaborate with. Ed Sheeran, Skepta – the range of music that I listen to is quite wide. But it’s more my surroundings that are my inspirations than people. It’s what I see day to day that inspires me.
I don’t know, because a lot of people that I’ve come up listening to, I’ve ended up having a working relationship with. Like Mike Skinner – Mike Skinner’s someone that I’ve always wanted to work with, and now we’re working on our third tune together. And Skepta, Skepta’s someone that I’ve always grew up listening to, and now I can just pick up the phone and ring these people to chat to them.
I’m a drake fan. I don’t know, Action Bronson – that’s someone that I like, as a person as well as his music. I think he’s a sick person, I like his personality and that. Um who else… Gucci Mane. There’s loads of people! But hopefully, what I’m doing will actually take me – like now how I’m saying that the people that I wanted to work with as a kid growing up, I can actually phone them now and do a song with them. So hopefully it will get to that position in a few years, with what I’m doing now.
Being a fan of such a broad range of music, what drew you to go into Grime?
School, the clashes, lord of the mics, playing instrumentals on the back of the bus off your phone. Cause everyone was spitting back then, that was the in thing, that was the cool thing to do – listening to sets on radio, pirate radio and things like that. I’d say school really influenced it.
After Grime-A-Side, what other exciting plans do you have lined up?
Yes, I’m dropping a CD called ‘Where Have You Been?’. That’s really what I’m putting all my energy into right now – getting that done, and making that as great as I can, because it needs to be better than any previous product that I’ve released. I’ve set quite a high benchmark for myself. I’m just happy with my sound at the moment, and I’m building on everything. I’m not in a rush, but I’m looking to drop the CD before the year’s out. And yeah, just doing that for the fans, and hopefully working on my first album next year.
In terms of a release date of the CD, I’m just gonna say towards the end of the year. I can’t say because we’re still in the creative process, so it’s not done yet, But I am going to get it done by this year so I can say by 2016, you’ll have the new Jaykae CD.
Great! So you’re more focused on quality rather than a schedule?
Yeah I’ve always been like that with my music. I will set a release date, and if I’m not happy, that release date’s getting pushed back. And I’m getting too – I always do that with my fans, and I’ve pissed my fans off, so I’m not going to do that to them this time. I’m just gonna keep my mouth shut, keep my head down and get the music done.