May 20, 2024

Interview: Jahkoy talks signing with Def Jam, Jaden Smith and touring with Kehlani


Def Jam signee Jahkoy risked it all when he left his hometown of Toronto on a whim for a chance of music stardom. The game of high risk paid off as Jahkoy is now touring off of his latest EP Foreign Water, supporting one of the best names in R&B today Kehlani.

Jahkoy, still very young in his career, is using his music to find his voice. “Before coming on tour I couldn’t talk to people I was really shy” he later admitted. “I couldn’t say two worlds to everybody. Music was the one way I was able to express myself. That’s when people got to know me a little more, through my music.”

We were able to sit down with Jahkoy moments after he opened the night for Kehlani’s SweetSexySavage Tour in Chicago.

JAHKOY at Concord Music Hall on the Sweet Sexy Savage Tour. Photo: Kevin Baker

Chicago Music: You’ve been a major fan of Def Jam way before even signing with them. How does it feel being a part of the label and the community around it?

Jahkoy: To be honest it’s surreal. I grew up on that whole culture. From Def Jam Poetry, Def Jam Comedy to even the Def Jam video games. Being a part of this experience coming from where I’m from it trips me out.

Some of my favorite artists are on this label and they’ve shaped who I am. Now I’m the next generation. I hope to bring that influence to the next generation like others have put on for me. I never take anything for granted and I’m super hungry and ready to get it. I’ll never stop making music. It’s been a way to express myself.

You speak very openly in your music about love and feeling. You got your name from your family but who taught you how to love?  

Every person that I’ve encountered taught me the different ways how to love. The different ways love is expressed. I operate off of vibrations, feelings and emotion. I’ve always known love is the full purpose in life. Everything that we do, we do because we love it. I’m a person the love’s love. We all want to love and be loved.

JAHKOY at Concord Music Hall on the Sweet Sexy Savage Tour. Photo: Kevin Baker

So far in your career the word opportunity sticks out with you. From risking it all leaving home, what are some of the opportunities you took that got you here today?

I had a buddy who reached out and said if you ever come out to L.A. you have a place to crash. I didn’t think twice about it. Within 5 days of being in L.A. I met Jaden Smith. That was incredible.

The summer just before that I watched every single season and every episode of The Fresh Prince (of Bel-Air). I swear to you. I watched it from top to bottom. The following year his (Will Smith) son reached out. He invited me to his house and just vibed and had a good time.

He told me he listened to my Soundcloud all day, man that was surreal. I met a lot of people through him and built a lot of relationships. We later formed a group for a while 123 Formations. After that within 8 months of being in L.A. I got signed to Def Jam.

I was on welfare too. It was a real tough time. It’s interesting to see how everything turned around. I always thank God everyday because of that.

What are some of the blessings that has happened in the past few years that you couldn’t believe were happening?

Meeting No I.D. was a blessing for a number of reasons, but the main is he signed me to Def Jam himself. It was crazy when I met him. He’s responsible for some of my favorite songs of all time. It was just an honor being in the same room as him, let alone play him all of my music. We were suppose to have a session, but just ended up just talking for 9hrs.

Being a part of the label (Def Jam) that I honestly love. They don’t force me to be something I’m not and I have full creative control.

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You’ve been getting recognition from Pharrell Williams to dozens of others. What’s the one piece of advice you’ve got recently that had a profound impact?

Somebody once told me “If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” That’s facts. Everyday, I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit nervous because I don’t know where it’s going to go. I know where I want it to go, but that’s just wishful thinking. I just want my music to make it out there and deliver a positive message. Right now, R&B is a little dark right now. I want to bring that light back.

Sharing that light and the message in your music. How have you been able to do that while on tour with Kehlani?

To see where they (Ella Maia and Kehlani) are and how much work they put in it’s amazing. I know their history, to know that I’m a part of that history now, it’s insane because they motivate me everyday.

Everyday I get even more hungry because I know I’m in a great space. This is the youngest R&B tour now. Every single show has been great. I love seeing how the fans feel. It’s that real connection. I love it. It has definitely opened my eyes to a lot of things.

Jahkoy will return to Chicago on June 7th to open for Kehlani’s SweetSexySavage Tour.