Jaah SLT doesn’t like people, but that hasn’t prevented him from creating music for the enjoyment of complete strangers. He’s a walking paradox, introverted with an outgoing personality. And though he’s often reticent about his personal affairs, at least Jaah is happy: “Ever since last year, life is better now.”
One Year Later is not only Jaah’s latest effort, it’s a musical time capsule of the last year, a recollection of moments that appreciate in value. The project is 12 tracks deep and covers a spell of cheeky, freeform lyricism that allows the North Carolina native to express himself openly. He’s a blonde-dreaded, boisterous artist that’s full of vim and vigor.
Candidly, Jaah admits that he isn’t impressed with the quality of music in rotation at the moment. “There’s a lot of shit playing right now that makes me feel like I can rap forever,” he says. A bit egocentric, but true nonetheless: by today’s standards, there’s a low bar for praise in hip-hop (depending on who’s listening). However, what separates the Alamo Records signee from his rap contemporaries isn’t the material, rather, the intent – Jaah doesn’t follow trends: “I just like doing what the fuck I wanna do.”
At 21-years-old, Jaah has an extremely unique life to lead. He’s at the pinnacle of his status as an emerging artist in the middle of a global pandemic, one year closer to not having “shit to worry about” but the world’s end. At his best, Jaah is easygoing and insightful, with a nonchalant approach to his career and how he makes music. He spoke freely to Dirty Glove Bastard about his journey so far and what it’s like to be Jaah SLT.
When you think about being creative and everything that entails, what comes to mind?
Whatever I wanna do. How I wanna create stuff. If it’s all through me or done by me, then that’s creative.
Have you always been a do-it-myself type of person?
Growing up, I didn’t really have a lot of friends like that. I always thought that I was different. I work better alone, I’m pretty much a loner. Ion really like people like that. I pretty much do everything myself. Ion really like help.
Are you considered an introvert, for lack of a better word?
Most definitely. Ion go to parties, Ion be tryna link with people etc. Once I got paid, after I got my deal bro, I was straight. I ain’t beefing with no more niggas. Unless it’s my clique that I grew up with, other than that, I be at the crib on the game.
How does it feel to step out of your comfort zone and create music for complete strangers – is that overwhelming or is that something you’re progressively working towards overcoming?
At first, it was hard because I was very self-conscious about what I was putting out. I wanted every song to be perfect, or a hit type shit. Then I started listening to other people’s music and I realized that a lot of people really suck, so I’m straight. There’s a lot of shit playing right now that makes me feel like I can rap forever.
Talk to me about your creative process. If everybody else’s shit sucks, what makes Jaah SLT different?
Honestly, when it comes to writing a song or producing wise, I smoke and write a song – and it’ll take me a week or two to finish because I have different parts for different verses, or it might take me a day to complete a song. I’ve had my iCloud since 2014 so anything I’ve ever written down is in my notes. I just go back to 2014 and pull bars and put it together. Production wise, whatever sounds hard to me I just make it.
I had no idea you made beats, too. Everything is pretty much in-house with you.
I slightly know how to engineer (to get it to sound right) but I couldn’t explain to somebody how to engineer, feel me.
Take me back to the moment you realized that you wanted to pursue a career in rap.
In high school we had this app called rap chat and they already had pre-made instrumentals. We would just make diss songs and I dissed somebody’s mom. I was like, ‘She can’t cook,’ ya feel me, and it blew up (laughs). Niggas was at school coming up to me (and I’m not gonna sing the song because everybody knows) singing this stuff. It’s like damn, they really fucking with me, so at that point I was thinking, ‘Man, if I don’t go to the league, I’ll be a rapper.’
Did you learn anything from playing sports that followed you into adulthood?
You know what’s crazy – when I was playing football, and football isn’t my best sport, if you were to ask my family, they’d tell you I was a much better baseball player but Ion really agree with that. Anytime I played baseball, I would do good but I never thought I was that good at it, feel me. But with football, even when I wasn’t getting any playing time, there’s no one you could put me up against that could guard me. I just had the utmost confidence: I felt like nobody was better than me. And that’s how I feel with my music. I know Drake is better than me but Ion think Drake is better than me.
One year later, what’s changed the most for you?
Stability. I’ve never been a stressful person but I just feel like life is great. Ever since last year, life is better now. Ion got shit to worry about, my bills paid, my car is paid for, my mama straight, my brother straight, my pops straight, the people that matter to me straight, so it’s like Ion know, I’m just happy.
How do you deal with the hate, though? I know the come up isn’t always pretty.
Ion be tripping about the internet bro. I’ma gamer, so I just look at the whole world like 2K or GTA ‘cause first of all, people be making fake accounts and hiding behind pages and shit like that. Bro, who gives a fuck: I’m paid. You can call my shit trash or whatever you want, but I’m paid and I know you can’t do shit about it. That mindset, that’s the whole confidence thing, knowing that nobody is better than me. There’s nothing you can say to me.
Have you ever considered starting your own gaming channel or getting involved in Twitch?
Hell yeah. The Alamo team wants me to start streaming and doing a whole bunch of stuff towards the gaming community. I would love to do it but at the same time, games have always been a safe haven for me. Even when I was dealing with some shit, every time I would play the game I would forget about everything. As far as how it relates to streaming, it’s like when I wake up today, I’ma smoke this blunt, I’ma set the stream up. I’ll start playing the game and forget that I’m streaming.
What about gaming creates that sense of relief for you?
Ion know (laughs). Ever since I was a kid I’ve always been fascinated by animation. Video games, super heroes, any video game that I can control. I hate superhero movies but I can play a superhero video game. I think it’s because I can control the video game, that might be it. I’m in control and I can do things the way that I want. People always say the older you get you become less interested in games but it’s like nah, I still play at least 12 hours a day. I’m 21 now, so Ion think it’s going to stop.
I feel like the unconventional, going against the grain, is what you enjoy most.
You just described me perfectly, bro. That’s exactly me: I just like doing what the fuck I wanna do. Just because someone else is doing some shit that doesn’t mean I wanna do it, too. If I wanna do something, I’ma do it.
How does that translate into music, though? It’s like you don’t care to be understood with your art as long as you’re content with what you’re creating.
I create for expression. It’s not like I’m talking about politics or anything crazy. Most of the time I’m talking on beats, it’s about true events. I think my music is energy. You can relate to most of the shit that I’m saying but if you don’t get the message I can’t do but so much. I screamed my whole vocals out, Ion know what else people want me to do.
When can we expect a live Jaah SLT performance? I feel like your music would perform well in a large crowd setting.
You know what’s crazy, ever since I’ve signed I’ve never performed any of my new music. I’ve never been to a concert before, Ion know what a show is like. I’ve never been to Rolling Loud before. I –
Wait, you’ve never been to an actual concert? You, Jaah SLT, an artist.
Nope. When I was in high school, I would watch Young Thug shows on YouTube, but as far as going to one, hell no. In our living situation, we weren’t going to no damn shows: my parents weren’t paying for tickets. But I understood that, though. It wasn’t like I was asking to go. And there’s a bunch of people there bro, everybody hot and sweaty – Ion even think that’s something that I’d want to do. As soon as I get to a place and I see a lot of people there I’m ready to go.
Are you nervous about your first performance?
In my life, I done bs’d my way through a whole bunch of shit. I’m pretty sure I can get through a show.