I started my first music blog Hip Hop Sense because well, I love hip hop. It gave me an outlet to put out my two cents to whoever cared enough to read them. One task I took on was accepting submissions from up and coming artist. Now, this is hard. Because this means you typically have to sift through tons of crap to find even one gem. So through mutual friends on twitter, I received The Black Sheep mixtape from some guy named Jay Dot Rain. I knew a few of his acquaintances so I took a chance on it.
After listening (in all sincerity), my response was: “Well…he doesn’t suck?”.
Well homie kept sending me music and I slowly began to hear the progression. Song after song, mixtape after mixtape, I noticed he began to find his own lane. Others began noticing the work too: Complex, The Source, 2DBZ to name a few.
So in anticipation of his new album Dixie Renaissance hosted by DJ Burn One, I conducted a quick interview so people could get familiar.
Ron: So who are you?
Jay: I’m Juwaun Rainey — you might know me as Jay Dot Rain. I’m from Tuscaloosa, Alabama by way of Huntsville, Alabama. I went up there for college. I’m 24 and I’ll be turning 25 on August 12th.
Ron: What age did you begin rapping?
Jay: I think I was like 17-18. It was definitely in high school though. I was writing poetry, poems for females and shit.. One day I went over my homie Pluto’s crib (@izadoreofficial) and he had a little makeshift “studio”. We use to just fuck around with it and make weak ass songs. I always wanted to be behind the scenes on some A&R shit. My homies were the ones that pressed me to take it serious.
Ron: If someone asked “Who is Jay Dot Rain?”, which song would you play them?
Jay: Shooter. It’s the whole story. It’s the feeling. It’s me. I’m the shooter. TAKING ALL MY SHOTS.
Ron: At what moment did rapping go from being a hobby to something you take seriously?
Jay: I had the opportunity to go on the road with G-Side a couple of years ago when I was in college. I was interning for Block Beattaz and they had a show at the Pitchfork Music Festival. I saw the perks, the cameras, all the love that they were getting. It made me want that life. I met Odd Future and at the time I was a major OF fan.. they had the juice. I wanted that life.
Ron: Favorite rappers of all time?
Jay: Jay Z, Kanye, Andre 3k, Future, Curren$y, Fabolous, K.R.I.T., Scotty ATL. I listen to a lot of people. But those are the ones that get constant spin; (aka never come off the iPhone)
Ron: Your sound is quite Southern, name a few Southern rap albums that influenced you.
Jay: Definitely Aquemini, all of KRIT’s albums, Ludacris’ Word of Mouf album was a good one too. Scotty’s FAITH album was dope. My mom didn’t play that “cussing music” as she calls it — so I had that one edited. But I knew all the words. I was going crazy to a lot of up north shit too. Diplomatic Immunity was a big fave of mine.
Ron: Looking back, is there an early song you’re embarrassed to listen to now?
Jay: All my music off my “Black Sheep” tape. It was just horrible. If you hear that, you’re family. But on The Dixie Renaissance, the skits tie into music from that tape so it makes for a whole “growth” type thing… it’s dope.
Ron: Omitting Dixie Renaissance obviously, what do you think is your best project to date?
Jay: Memoirs of A Young Dreamer, definitely. I was just hungry on that one. It had a different feel. It was just my breakout into the world of music in my opinion. Love that tape.
Ron: Memoirs of a Young Dreamer had an interesting album cover with the Dixie cup and the champagne bottle, talk about the symbolism behind that
Jay: It started as just a picture I took on my birthday with my phone. Some corny shit, trying to flex. But as I kept looking at the picture and thinking on the title. It just made sense. Dreaming of lavish living, the bottles..chains… but still humble enough to drink from the red cups — which have little to no value to many. It’s my story. The come up.
Ron: Why the name Dixie Renaissance?
Jay: In my opinion, Alabama’s culture outside of college football is nonexistent honestly. As a kid I read a lot of poetry from Langston Hughes and even named one of my first songs “Langston Hughes”. I really fucked with the whole vibe of the Harlem Renaissance and how they all came together to really change the way things were going in Harlem; dealing with art, music, everything. That’s what I’m trying to do in Alabama. I want to lead the state. Growth, change, The Dixie Renaissance.
Ron: Give your thoughts on the current state of Southern hip hop. Also,the hip hop scene in Alabama specifically. (Name a few other rappers in Alabama who you think are worthy or recognition)
Jay: Southern hip hop right now.. It’s honestly nonexistent. Shout out to guys like Scotty and KRIT for keeping it going. I’ve been blessed to hang around these guys and they are so humble and really living their rhymes. The internet makes it so easy to get your music to the people so a lot of talent gets overlooked. As far as Alabama, we are the ones that get over looked. A lot of people think it’s just trap music and dirt roads. I’m pretty confident that TDR will change some opinions. Shout out to dope artists in Alabama doing their thing like Lil Nardy, Bankroll Bookie, Spank Lee, Its BJ, Ray Rizzle, Mizzle Money, it’s so much down here. You just gotta be willing to listen.
Ron: DJ Burn One is very influential in the game, how did you link up with him?
Jay: That was all Scotty’s doing. He advised it, and he said it would be a good look. Burn has been nothing but help to Scotty, and I have gotten nothing but the same in return from him. Great guy.
Ron: You collaborate with Block Beattaz often, favorite Block Beattaz beat that isn’t one of your songs?
Jay: Definitely Feel The Bass by Stalley
(PS. Mine is still “Rollin“. And always will be)
Ron: Was there a moment where you were so discouraged that you almost decided to give up?
Jay: All the time, man. It’s hard trying to live your dreams and you have an educator for a mother snapping on you because you don’t have a 9-5 fresh out of college. It’s one of those things where you just have to put your head down and focus. So that’s my current state. Head down, focused.
Ron: Your biggest moment so far? (Career defining moment up until this point)
Jay: I opened for Yo Gotti at my alma mater’s homecoming for like 10,000 people. Definitely lit. I’ve been to NYC and performed a few times. Everything is really a defining moment for me right now, cause I’m writing my story.
Ron: Greatest bit of advice you’ve received as an underground artist?
Jay: The work is never done. It took a year and a half to make TDR. and the day I finished, I started working on Trap Jazz. There is so much shit that goes into making your presence felt. I’m still learning so, I stay prayed up and keep my circle small.
Ron: What would you tell your 18-year-old self if you had the chance?
Jay: “Don’t worry about anything, cause you bout to be on!” OR “These same niggas that are tryna play you now… they’ll be tryna do features later..” haha
Ron: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Ultimate goal?
Jay: 5 years, I’m gonna be established in the game. A driving force in Alabama hip hop. A driving force in Southern hip hop. My ultimate goal is to be able to live comfortably and show another average joe that he can do it too, cause I was once that guy.
Ron: What can we expect from Dixie Renaissance? Any surprises?
Jay: It’s my most personal music, I put the most work in on this one. It’s something for everybody. Surprises? two of the artists that i spoke about in this interview are on the tape. haha (MINUS MY ALABAMA HOMIES.)