Get To Know JAY RARE [Interview]

Ian Hansen

Growing up in Northern California, JAY RARE would freestyle and make songs for fun. It wasn’t until he met D.J. and producer, Steve Cardigan, where things would really take off. They would throw parties and throw the biggest events in Santa Barbara. Since moving to Los Angeles, Jay has started releasing his own music including his most recent EP, Built Different EP, and along with a fashion brand. Get to know about the high energy Jay Rare below:

How did growing up in the Bay Area influence you coming up?

I’m from East Oakland, California. I credit a lot of my creativity from the bay. We are known for our unique sound. I’ve been into music all my life but really started getting into it during the Hyphy Movement, which is this thing in the bay that is all about being hyperactive and everyone having fun. We had a lot of rappers in the underground pop off. We are heavy on Mac Dre in there. Everyone is influenced by Mac Dre in the bay. He was himself. He is one of my biggest inspirations from the Bay. That is what everyone took from it. I can’t forget Lil B the Based God. He was my entire high school experience. He took over the bay at one point.

On the entrepreneurship side, how does being out there get you into entrepreneurship and starting your own business?

Where I’m from, we had a one bedroom apartment with six people in it. There wasn't any personal space. We were struggling. That’s poverty. Poverty leads to adversity and adversity breeds creativity. You had to be creative and resourceful. We didn’t have a lot of opportunities or a lot of anything. We had to come up with a lot of creative ways to have fun, stand out and be different. That changed my ability to be an entrepreneur. I was always good at finding solutions, and I was always good at creating. If it doesn’t exist, I’m going to create it or figure it out. I was calling people at 3 a.m. because when you get the idea you get the idea. Adversity breeds creativity, and that is what the bay taught me.

What is the biggest thing you learned to get where you are now with everything?

The biggest thing I learned is to surround yourself with good people because bad times will come. Life is up and down. When you go through it, you have to surround yourself with individuals that are good people. Anything you have in your mind, and those people will help you. I come from a place where we don’t really trust people. I don’t trust anybody. I still count my money when that comes. For me, it was about opening up to people who are genuine and trusting them. 

How do you balance music and entrepreneurship while keeping yourself level-headed?

I delegate. Whenever I can’t do something, I pass it to someone who I know can. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others. To stay balanced, you only have 100 percent of yourself. You have to learn to distribute that percentage out. Delegating and trusting people. That’s how I stay balanced.

Where did Steve Cardigan come into the equation? I know you guys used to throw parties in the bay.

Steve is probably one of my favorite human beings. He was my roommate in college and was the only white person in a room full of black people. We were all in one house and one day he came. I wanted to start throwing parties and Steve came over and was like, “I can D.J.” We all laughed at him. I remember the next day, we came home from football practice, and he told everyone to sit down in the living room, and he had a whole D.J. set in the living room. He really knew what he was on. I threw my very first party with him. It had like 600 people in there and we called it, “No More EDM.” It was one of the first hip-hop parties. We started throwing a ton of parties.

The clubs downtown wanted to work something out and they paid us to bring our experience to them. I started using my connections to start booking artists. We had it popping, and ever since then, Steve and I have been locked in. In Santa Barbara at the time, people were racist. If it weren’t for Steve, the doors wouldn’t have broken. Steve put us on. I wouldn’t be where I’m at if it weren’t for him. When I got my first deal, I moved to L.A., we had a budget, and we opened up a studio together. He has always been my partner.

Now you have your EP, Built Different EP. Take me through that project and what it means to you?

I ended up meeting Ox three years ago, and he and I hit it off and always kept contact. I was always doing music behind the scenes. I was more doing creative direction work with producers, and I stayed in contact with him. He always told me I have talent and to do this and that. I give the credit and a lot of my success to Ox. He was one of the first people to tell me I have talent, and I can take you to A and B. The EP came together from me being in a couple sessions with Don Robb, and he was like, “Put it out, and we can do it.” We made plays, and it took two months to come together. It dropped, and it’s getting love.

What do you want your legacy to be with everything? What are your goals?

I want to build a brand. “Rare” is my brand, and I want to continue to build my brand and put a lot of different people on. I want to build a legacy and generational wealth. What I did wasn’t easy, but because I went through it and know the right people, it dang near is easy. If I put my homie on and I ever go down, he knows it’s good. He will look out. I feel like I’m one of the most creative people in the world. I got ideas not just about music and clothing, I want to build buildings. I want to put my hand in every piece of pie. 

What makes you rare?

What makes me rare is that I’m built different and nobody will be like me. I wake up in the morning with positive energy and go to sleep with positive energy. I think different. I eat different. I sleep different.

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