by Devyn Imholt
Jay Copes is an artist hailing out of Camden, NJ, who creates a unique blend of hip-hop and RNB that he affectionately calls “love and pain music.” Jay has been independently releasing his emotionally riveting music since 2011. I had the pleasure of speaking with Jay about his life, his music, and his dedication to delivering a quality product to his fans.
As a child, Jay gravitated towards music even as those around him did not. Jay started playing instruments around fifth grade, when he brought home permission slips out of his own interest. In elementary school he sung in the chorus as well as playing drums, the flute, and violin. As he got older, Jay turned his attention towards sports, playing in high school and eventually walking on and playing football at Delaware State University. After attending the university for some time, Jay realized that even while in classes or at practices, that his mind “kept coming back to music,” ultimately leading to his decision to leave academia to pursue music as a full-time career.
Dedicating his life to music gave Jay a renewed focus. He began to work with Climax Ent/Tru Sound Studios, finding a space that allowed him to create and expand as an artist. After finding out that his longtime girlfriend was pregnant with twins, Jay felt the pressure to succeed, returning to the studio and asking God for a sign.
This turned into the 2019 single, “Signs,” Jay’s biggest song to date. “Signs” has amounted over two million streams and has been promoted by the likes of industry legends Fat Joe and DJ Clue. Jay used the video for the song as an opportunity to create a timestamp in his life and career, proposing to his girlfriend on the set, and including the scene within the video.“Signs” allowed Jay to create a foundation for his career, showing his fans what kind of person and artist that he wanted to be from the very beginning.
In the years since, Jay has released numerous singles including 2019’s “Remember,” 2020’s “Unsure,” and his most recent release, 2022’s “Don’t Cry No More.” Jay’s singles are an introspective look into his life as an artist and person, discussing his come up, love life, tribulations, and triumphs. Sonically, Jay wants to be a multi-faceted artist, citing that he is inspired by artists like Drake or Akon that refuse to be boxed into one genre. Jay wants his audience to truly feel his emotions through his music, intentionally making his songs about romance poetically intimate while his dance songs are unapologetically energetic.
Jay is an artist who is passionate about his music, his image, and his impact. Jay seems to have a clear focus of who he wants to be and where he wants to fit into the hip-hop and RNB landscape. However, while music is his passion, being an independent artist is not easy. Jay discussed with me an unreleased track, “Almost Famous,” that discusses his predicament of being nearly famous. Jay described it as being “that close,” having the issue of being in exclusive events with celebrities while still having to fly home in coach. Ten years into the game and Jay’s drive has remained steadfast, describing that every day he wakes up still feeling that he’s “right there.”
Jay is a husband, father, and the youngest of six kids, meaning that success for him is about more than image and money. Alongside his own twins, Jay has twenty-three nieces and nephews, and he wants to make sure that he is truly leading the next generation as a positive role model. Jay wants to demonstrate to them that following your passion and staying true to your character are fundamentally important. Jay is speaking his own truth, providing to hip-hop what he describes as a “missing perspective” in the genre, that of a supportive father and dedicated partner.
When discussing his 2022 and what fans should be looking forward to, he confidently replied “music, music, music.” Jay has been in a phase of creation and is finally ready to share these new creations with the world, ensuring that he has only improved as time has gone on. When discussing his future, Jay cited artists like Future or Lil Wayne, who have been known for frequent releases. With a string of recent singles, he added that it could finally be time for a Jay Copes full-length project.
Jay is someone who resonates with his passion for his work. Jay truly feels that he was put on this planet to make music, and this was evident in our discussion. Jay’s “love and pain” music is unique in the way it is able highlight both his vocal talent and lyrical prowess. By staying true to his upbringing, character, talent, and vision, Jay Copes is looking to take his career to the next level.
Follow him and listen to his music here.