Straight out of Cleveland, Ohio, JayR City is an R&B singer and rapper who demonstrates the strength in versatility as an artist. Blending the two skills together, JayR has made a name for himself through both his original songs and his creative covers. In preparation for his new album, Progression to Greatness, which can be streamed everywhere on August 30th, JayR has been showcasing his range by releasing hit after hit.
JayR City grew up in a conservative, religious household in the inner city where he was exposed to drugs, crime, and poverty at a young age. Unfortunately, instead of voicing his opinions and emotions surrounding his environment, he was expected to be silent. At the age of 9, he discovered a way to translate these thoughts into music as he experienced Tupac’s Strictly for My N***** in his big sister’s CD collection. The lyrics demonstrated how rap could be used to discuss the struggles that people face daily, inspiring JayR to do the same. As a result, he began writing raps of his own to cope with the turbulence of his life and found his own voice. He took to social media platforms such as Instagram to share his words and quickly realized that people were listening. It gave him the confidence to pursue music seriously, building an audience out of those who could relate to the ways he felt.
From there, JayR City’s career has taken off. The R&B singer and rapper released his first music video to his song, “Foreign,” in 2017, and after that, there was no end in sight. By 2019, JayR then released his single, “HiGH,” which got fans exciting for his debut album, 2 July, which premiered that September, receiving over 80,000 streams. Last year, JayR explored a new side of his creativity by sampling popular R&B tracks such as T-Pain’s “Shawty” and Summer Walker’s “Come Thru,” putting his own twist on those songs. After the success with those covers, JayR recently released a brand new song, “Nice and Slow,” which samples Ari Lennox’s “BMO,” slowing down the vocals to support his sensual lyrics and seductive tone.
“HiGh” is a pretty solid R&B track, giving me Bryson Tiller vibes throughout the whole song. I love that JayR tends to keep his rapping and his R&B tracks separate for the most part. With that being said, I could definitely see him making a killing on hooks for artists in a “Lotus Flower Bomb” type way. He adds a sex appeal to his music that doesn’t feel cheap or overly crass but instead is balanced out with clever and romantic lyrics. The production in the track is quite light and airy, but the simplicity and repetition allow JayR’s vocals to shine while being complemented really well by the female vocals. He sings with so much ease that it adds a sense of comfort to the song; the intimacy doesn’t feel forced in any way. There’s a sense of familiarity that just makes the lyrics that much more enticing.
Honestly, I was a bit hesitant to see what would come out of JayR’s remix of “Come Thru,” because it is one of my favorite songs. Also, the song already heavily featured Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna…” so there isn’t a lot of leeway in terms of what you can do with the song creatively. However, I found myself wishing there was even more of JayR on it! His voice worked perfectly with the intro which featured a clip from Summer Walker’s version (whereas the rest of the hooks were sung by Charnelle.) He switched the flow up a bit and once again sang with ease, giving an effortless performance that fit the vibe really well. The line, “I’ll swing through and make sure that you remember me,” was absolutely swoon-worthy. JayR’s voice works even better when harmonizing with Charnelle, who absolutely killed it. Her voice is similar enough to Summer’s to not feel like a drastic change, but once you notice the subtle differences, it’s hard not to love them. Honestly, I would have loved to hear JayR sing the Usher part as well. The nonchalance of the performance before Usher’s verse creates a whole different mood for the song, especially since the tempo was a tad slower. Overall, my biggest complaint is how short it is; I want more!
As I mentioned earlier, JayR City’s newest release, “Nice and Slow,” plays around with Ari Lennox’s song, “BMO.” It starts off with a pitched-down version of Ari’s hook, slowing down the tempo significantly. The drum machine speeds it up a bit and leads us into JayR’s vocals. One of my favorite elements of JayR’s style is how he sings the last syllable of each line. It has been consistent on each track and has demonstrated just how much control he has over his voice. Additionally, as straightforward as it is, I love how “BMO” was sampled throughout the track. While it essentially has kept the same beat, the way the original lyrics were used in contrast with JayR’s to create a conversational back-and-forth was really clever. It’s also easy to brush over the lyrical content, but JayR’s one-liners, such as “straight-jacket sex when I drive you crazy,” are really clever.
Overall, JayR City has a super consistent flow. His wordplay is impressive, and he definitely pays homage to older R&B styles while keeping his music relevant. While I would like to see him take more risks with his covers, I think his abilities both as a singer and as a rapper give him an advantage, especially over other rappers. I’m truly excited for his upcoming album, and I’m curious to see not only what other songs he chooses to sample but also what other directions he chooses to take with his album. It would be fun to see him take on some more upbeat, dance routes, such as “Passionfruit” or “LOYAL.” If you like what you’ve heard so far, I’ve linked all of JayR’s social media handles below. Don’t forget to play through these tracks and show him some love!