I recently came across a song on YouTube called ‘Mi Do Wo’ and it was so touching that I decided to look for more songs from the person who sang it. It turns out he had more where that came from and every song was great to listen to and the lyrics and style was the type that you will get you thinking.
I decided to pursue Jay Ghartey and have a chat with him about his music. Turns out he is an award-winning Ghanaian Musician based in New York. He has a unique style that blends RnB with Rap and has a soulful voice that will have you falling in love with his Lyrics. With collaborations with artists like Tinny and Okyeame Kwame under his belt, Jay Ghartey is really set help put Ghanaian Music on the map.
I could not keep the chat I had with him to myself so, enjoy getting to know him a little better too.
ME: The thing that made me actually notice you was your song’ MI Do Wo’. It is a catchy tune and it hits home. especially if you’ve ever had to leave someone you love behind to try to build a better future for them. What was the main emotion behind the song? have you been in a long distance relationship or did someone inspire the song?
JAY: Well the song was a personal one cause I have been in long distance relationships before and its very difficult knowing the one you love has to be thousands of miles across the ocean. It’s also dedicated to anyone who had to leave their loved one for work or school. Its painful and so many millions of fellow Ghanaians have done this for so long, mostly because of economic reasons, you know getting money to support their family.
ME: If given the choice, where would you live? New York or Accra?
JAY: I would live in Accra and do business in New York. I’m happiest when I’m in Accra.
ME: From the information I could gather from your website, you started doing music at a very young age and music was very different back then so, how do you manage to stay relevant?
JAY: There is something in music that is timeless. You just have to adjust to the current trend. What makes my music special is my ability to come with strong melodies and stay in tune with the rap game and this is easy to mix in with the current trends or style of music.
ME: Chief G and the tribe is a catchy name for a band. Whatever happened to your group?
JAY: Well when I moved to the United States the original Chief and the Tribe group broke up the other rappers Kwaku T and Abeeku went on to form the group Talking Drums. It was successful and then Abeeku moved to Atlanta and it was the end of that. I talk to the other guys now and then and we are thinking of doing a song to re-unite us. They are very talented rappers so I’m looking forward to it.
ME: Being a Ghanaian living in the USA, do you have any opinions on long distance relationships and how it affects people? You made a song about it after all.
JAY: Long distance relationships can work but I think you have to be strong. You have to have a lot of trust and faith in the other person. It’s easier now with the internet and cell phones. Back in the day it was only letters and an occasional call that would be crazy expensive.
ME: Can you tell me what a typical day in your life is like?
JAY: Well now my life is pretty hectic but the studio is always the focal point of my day. I always work on new songs daily. I wake up do a little reading and then get ready for the day. I go online to communicate with friends and co-workers. When I’m in Ghana I call New York and make sure everything is going well with my company there and vice –versa when I’m in New York I check in with my label in Ghana and make sure things are going smoothly. I have band practice weekly and do photo shoots and videos etc. Making videos is the most tiring because its very precise. You have to get the best shots.
ME: What do you think is in store for Ghanaian music in the next few years?
JAY: I think Ghanaian music is some of the best music being made in the world now. It will take time but people will see that. Look what Jamaica did with their music and how it took over globally. They only have a population of a few million, but look how they represented. We can do the same. When I’m in GH, so many young artists come up to me and they are really talented, I mean really amazing young artists. So in due time Ghanaian music will explode globally.
ME: Two of your songs, sounds of violence and devil weeping are about war and I get the feeling it is something that is close to your heart. Should we look forward to maybe a charity that helps people who are affected by such events from you?
JAY: Yes these songs are very personal and meaningful to me. When I was a child in Ghana I was friends with so many Liberians who were in Ghana escaping the civil war in Liberia. The stories they told of what was happening were heartbreaking and shocking. Stories that when heard, even a man with a hard heart would be forced to shed a tear. That’s why I called the song “devil weeping” meaning even if the devil saw these things he would cry.
I have a foundation called GH Brothers youth foundation that focuses on getting dropouts back into school. But with the songs on civil war I work with an organization called invisiblechildren.org and United Nations Refugee Agency.
ME: In your song she’s wild, you rapped in it. Should we look forward to more of you rapping or singing or both?
JAY: It will be a mixture of rapping and singing. I’m equally strong in both styles. The first album I sang more so it was established I was a singer. Now that’s done I’ll start rapping more. Raping allows me to go harder sometimes and I enjoy that. Actually if you ask anyone from GH who knows anything about rap history in Ghana they would tell you I was one of the first rappers in Ghana to do my thing, even though I was young.
ME: What should we look forward to from Jay Ghartey?
JAY: I think my music will continue to get better and better. I will represent for Ghana throughout the world as promoting Ghanaian music outside of GH borders is my mission. That’s why I don’t just move home now even though that would make me happy. I feel GH music needs to be heard everywhere and so I will continue to introduce it to new audiences worldwide. I will continue building the GH brothers Youth foundation and help as many children return to school as possible .
But until the name Jay Ghartey alongside Kanye West, Drake etc. I won’t stop. But I always put God first in my life so whatever God wants for me, I’m cool with it. Black Star.