Something Special in the Water! Interview with Def Jam’s Jahkoy

‘Something special must be in Canadian water!’ Jahkoy Palmer said that comment to him made by many journalists was the inspiration for his highly anticipated EP titled Foreign Water, which just debuted in October. The album followed his September single “California Heaven,” featuring L.A. rapper Schoolboy Q, which received rave reviews from USA Today, Billboard, and the Fader and is skyrocketing to the top of Spotify viral charts. Jahkoy has been described as “the next in the list of big names to come from Canada,” but his unique genre-blending approach tying R&B and electric house makes him stand out from the rest. His eclectic sound and feels-hitting vocals have generated active support from Pharrell, Elton John and his single “Odd Future” premiered on Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 Radio Show and played on Drake’s OVO Sound Radio. Jahkoy tore up the stage at festivals all over the U.S. this summer, driving crowds crazy at Lollapalooza, Wireless UK, Billboard Hot 100, and tons more. The world wants more, and the 22-year-old Def Jam Recordings artist is cooking up a world tour, a new album, and new shows for 2017.

IG @jahkoy

Jahkoy’s been making music for so long that he laughed when I asked him what his first musical experience was, saying “I couldn’t tell you my first experience with music just because I’ve been doing music for so long that I don’t even remember when I started. I just remember always loving it.”

He’s been writing music since he was 11. “It started with writing poems in school. I turned a lot of those poems into music—I used to rap at the time—so it was a lot of poems that turned into raps.” Rapping under the alias of “Raheem” in Toronto was the beginning of Jahkoy’s journey.

“I grew up on a lot of Def Jam poetry. I’ve always wanted to be a part of that experience of the spoken word, and expressing how I feel in a format that was like written to tell a story, and also make it sound smooth. As a kid it’s like ‘monkey see monkey do,’ you see something that’s really cool [and] you want to try it, and that’s how it was for me. I saw something that was really dope and I wanted to be a part of music. I love music, music always changed how I felt, it would make me feel better. A funny story that my mom tells me, I guess when I was 2 years old and every time I started crying she would put on this record by Craig Mack called ‘Flava in Ya Ear,’ and she said every time she would play the record I would stop crying immediately. So I guess music has just instilled in me [a way] to help me get rid of my demons and get vulnerable, and just express myself as a whole. Ever since I can remember I’ve just been in love with that form of expression.”

“I love music, music always changed how I felt, it would make me feel better.”

We talked about Jahkoy’s transition from rap to R&B, and where his inspiration stems from. “I started singing two years ago at the Disclosure show. At the time, I didn’t know who Disclosure was or know anything about them,” he recalled. Jahkoy first saw the Electronic Duo at their concert in Toronto, which he’d gone to see Vic Mensa. As his first exposure to purely instrumental music, Disclosure blew him away. “Just having that experience, seeing instrumental music being appreciated by people just enjoying themselves, listening to the bump of the beat. And having that first experience, not really familiar with the instrumental world, and it struck me that there could be potential vocals over these records to make them like number one hits. And it was wanting to go through a bit of trial and error to make some potential hits in that dance-infused world. It was using, I guess, pop music with urban—a little bit of that urban—and throwing it over house records. With all the technology that we have right now, we’re able to do so many things to make good music, and it’s so hard to I guess label it, I like to just call it good music. Music is evolving… a lot of my music has three elements—house, R&B, or acoustic, those are the worlds that I live in musically and that’s how I express myself. I never like to stick to one, I never like to cater to a specific style, I just like to express myself entirely and how it comes out at the moment is how we’re going to execute it, and most of the time it comes out at random.”

He then opened up about the evolution of his signing voice and where he’d like to improve upon. “I’m still working on my voice, vocally, and learning where I can take things. ‘Cause I’ve only been singing for a couple years now, so I’m not where I’m going to be if I get like ten years of experience. Right now, I feel like I’m still in the earlier stages of my career. I feel really comfortable where I am, especially over time. I’ve been going to vocal lessons, I feel more in control of my voice, feel more comfortable, but I’m still learning. The future is bright, the rest is history.”

Twitter @jahkoy

He’s definitely right about that; Jahkoy’s future is bright. He’s setting out to prove himself here in the U.S. and continue making waves.

“Foreign Water is out, my first album. That lets me know that the engines are running, so now I really gotta prove why I’m the one and why I should be here, what do I bring to the table. I’m trying to bring a fresh experience to the listeners of the music world, in this industry, to share the experience of someone from Canada. I’m coming from the other side of the border, I really want to share the Canadian experience. I’m in America now, I’m seeing different things and meeting new people and absorbing a lot, becoming more of myself and seeing all that’s out there. I’m only going to grow and am only going to become better at what I do, trying to master my art as much as possible and understanding what it means to be in the music industry and what being a part of the singer-songwriter world is, and linking up and making these connections. When I first came out to LA, I found myself in a lot of happy accidents. I came out here to make music and really put my foot in the door, and prove to everybody why I’m here. I’m working on my album—hopefully top of the year, looking at a world tour, potentially, got some shows coming up early in the year. It’s going to be awesome.”

Jahkoy’s got some pretty exciting stuff lined up and has made a lot of major transitions, but through all of it he hasn’t forgotten why he’s here. “I really just want to put an imprint on the next generation so that they can absorb my energy and potentially feed off of my energy and deliver it to the following generation, so it just goes on. I’m inspired by Kanye West and Pharrell, these guys are leaders of my generation and they deserve a reward, if you ask me, for being the guys that stepped out of the norm and stepped out of what everybody felt was the comfort zone and really, like, express themselves as a whole. They weren’t holding back for what anybody thought, they just wanted to be artists. I just want to bring my perspective and share my story.”



Hear what the hype is about and listen to Foreign Waters, “California Heaven,” and read more of Jahkoy’s story here.

This is original AMG content.


Short Stop (And Interesting Hike) in Victoria, Canada

The Port Angeles Ferry ride dropped us off on time at our next stop—Victoria, Canada. From there we’d be boarding our plane and jetting off across Canada all the way to London. Quick travel tip! If you’re planning a trip to Europe (or anywhere—it is always worth trying this) fly out of Canada! Our flight to London was under three hundred dollars. While my peers were paying close to one thousand departing from California, we were flying out of Canada to England for ust over two hundred, along with a cheap ferry and free train ride (Amtrak miles!). I cannot stress this enough. If you’re looking for a MAJOR MONEY SAVER fly out on a slightly uncomfortable trip from Canada. Slightly uncomfortable because we had to take four flights, each around two hours, literally across the country and then across the Atlantic Ocean. This was less than ideal and took almost an entire day. However, if you’re a student or an adventurer on a budget, this is a wallet-saving option! Canada was beautiful, for the short time that we visited. Food and drink is relatively cheap in Victoria, people are very friendly and helpful (as stereotypically expected), and it was a great place to start out our journey. One note, change your U.S. dollars to Canadian cash as quickly as you can. Most stores and restaurants accept cards, but you will need coins to board public transportation. ATMs can be hard to come by and many stores begin to close around 10, so do not wait until the last minute to change your currency! Like we did…

Parliament building Victoria, Canada

We had just boarded the bus on our way to the airport (after scouring the streets to find the last liquor store open at which we could exchange our currency). Our flight would be taking off at 6 am and it was about midnight. Our plan was to get to the airport around 1 and sleep there until our flight. Our “fool-proof” plan consisted of two buses and a minor walk to the airport. MINOR. Or so we thought.

 The second bus ended up not taking us as far as the route had been displayed online, but the driver assured us it was a safe, 20 minute walk through a residential town to the isolated airport. So, knowing it was our only option since we did not have cell phone service to phone a cab, we began the trek. Then turned back. To our horror the road to the airport was lined with forest and unlit homes, and was completely dark. No street lights, house lights, absolutely no light lit the path. It took us a few tries at mustering courage to walk the 20 minutes, in complete darkness, in a foreign country, down an unknown street, at 2 in the morning. I can now admit that I was more scared than I let on, but thankfully we eventually reached the light of the airport and found our way inside. At first we thought the airport was closed and that the night would further decay into us having to sleep outside. However, the Canadians showed their prized hospitality and let us in to sleep with the other flyers. In the British Columbian, Canadian airport, they have rooms where you can sleep in over night! This would have been something worth making sure of. But don’t discount it out of misinformation; save your money by sleeping at the airport if you only have a few hours until your flight. Do not, however, belittle the walking distance (or circumstantial distance) of a walk in the dark.

Washington, and More Specifically, Departure from Port Angeles

Backpacking Trip in Europe! From the beginning…

Backpacking Trip in Europe! From the beginning…

After surpassing the reasonable amount of hours one can spend in a car and expect maintain their sanity, my friend and I arrived in her hometown of Sequim, Washington. From there, I would spend the night and get on the ferry to Victoria, Canada the next day! (So far for transportation methods we’re at train, car, and ferry). The realization of what we were about to do was slowly starting to hit me, with the intensity of a speeding train but the delayed comprehension of a slow motion clip. What were we thinking!? Were we really about to go backpacking around Europe by ourselves? Two 20 year-old females with zero traveling experience, overconfident but underwhelming Spanish, and just a loose folder of bookings, plane tickets, and a lightly researched itinerary. All I kept thinking was what if one of our hostels doesn’t work out? What if we booked the wrong bus? What if we get lost and stranded with no money and never make it out of Canada??? All of these worries were half valid, but it was easier to accept that this trip was happening, whether we were ready for it or not, and just plan to make it up along the way. We double and then triple checked out bookings, making a few adjustments and fixing mistakes, and on the next day we were back in the car driving to the Port Angeles Ferry Station.

Interview: Lil Wayne Tells Drake to “Keep it Canadian”

Lil Wayne was recently interviewed by Cari Champion on her “Giving Major Props” podcast.  The two discussed his charitable Lil Weezyana performance, N.W.A., Jay Z, signing Drake, and the NFL season.

 First of all, this was a great interview. Cari Champion is an amusing and engaging host and she related to Wayne in a way that made her listeners feel connected to him. Lil Wayne was also a perfect interviewee. He was genuine, polite, and shared humorous anecdotes as well as gave listeners a glimpse into his personality. The pair start by discussing the 10th year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Lil Wayne, a New Orleans native, raised money for Hurricane Katrina charities with his successful show Lil Weezyana, where he showcased every era of New Orleans music.

 The conversation then turned to the movie “Straight Outta Compton” and the N.W.A.. Wayne said he loved the movie. “They left a lot out of course, but they had to,” he said. While talking about the Greats, Lil Wayne shared a story about Jay Z that marked a milestone in his career. When Wayne was still up-and-coming, he received a phone call one night from Jay Z. His voice was animated as he told Cari about how he tried to get everyone in his house to quiet down when he saw the incoming call. It was only a short conversation, but being acknowledged by Jay Z let Wayne know he was going in the right direction.

 Lil Wayne also discussed that while Jay Z made him feel accomplished, he made this moment happen for Drake. Wayne discovered Drake at a time when Drake’s mixture of rapping and singing was getting him rejected. When Wayne brought him on he said, “Don’t change anything. Don’t think cuz you coming over here by me you gotta rap about the things I rap about.” Essentially, as Wayne humorously put it, he was telling Drake to “Keep it Canadian.”

 Wayne also demonstrates the virtue of being humble, as he wouldn’t tell Cari that he alone was what jumpstarted Drake’s career, even though he discovered him. However, when asked who’s a better rapper between him and Drake, Lil Wayne responded laughing, “Oh I annihilate that guy.”