Only a true Chicagoan can fully understand the city’s hustle mentality – simultaneously holding down multiple jobs while going to school, taking care of our families, and being active in our communities, all while pursuing our dreams and goals. It’s the Chicago way.
Chicago-born musician Jahzel, eats, sleeps, and breaths that mentality: “We [Chicagoans] are hustlers in general; we get it done,” he says proudly. “I am telling the story about Chicago that hasn’t been told – that along with the bad things that are happening, there are plenty of positive things going on. This is the real story of Chicago and I think people can relate to it.” Jahzel has always been a proud Chicagoan, and his most recent project, The Wake Up, is an ode to the city he holds dear.
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The son of Nigerian immigrants, Jahzel, grew up with an appreciation for all types of music; an appreciation that is evident in his own music production. “I am influenced by a lot of genres; if it’s dope, it’s dope. When writing music it’s all about the feel [of the music] and capturing a certain emotion. My experiences influence my music, and my music is diverse because experiences are diverse.”
Jahzel worked in the music industry, as a music engineer, DJ manager, producer, and sought-after songwriter before deciding to seriously pursue a solo career as a recording artist. In 2010, he released his first mixtape, The Arrival, which garnered an overwhelmingly positive response. Motivated by that response and his love for hip-hop, Jahzel went on to record two more mixtapes, First Class and Jet Lag, respectively.
Jahzel’s breakthrough came when the video for his single “Inner City Kid” was placed in rotation on MTV. Humbly surprised by the critical acclaim that his music was receiving, Jahzel headed back to the studio to work on his project, In God’s Image. The album received heavy rotation on MTV and coverage by dozens of notable outlets including XXL, The Source, HipHopDX, and Hot New Hip Hop, ultimately leading to a headlining spot at A3C, Atlanta’s premiere hip-hop festival.
Jahzel’s project, The Wake Up, maintains his tradition of beautifully composed projects as he seeks to provide a worldwide ‘awakening’ to the complexities of growing up in the inner city of Chicago, complete with its snares, daily moral challenges, and overall limited options. His lead single “Wake Up!” aptly sets the tone for what one can expect from the entire LP, as he displays a prowess for combining intelligently crafted lyrics with captivating story telling. He maintains such quality with soulfully touching records like “John Stockton,” “Seedlings,” and “No Tears No Issue,” where he shares personal struggles of trying to survive in a Chicago project as a child of immigrant parents, leading to his introductions to the world of narcotics, and both the short-term and long-term impact these decisions have made on his life and future, as well as the residual effects of his decisions on those around him. He brilliantly balance the lyricism and substance of classic hip-hop with commercially appealing feel-good records like “The Vision,” “Crazy,” and “Faithful.” “I feel Chicago has been depicted as this ultra-violent city, comprised of gun toting youth who stand on corners, shooting at each other over the slightest disagreements. This may be true in some cases, but it’s not like that on a daily basis. The real story is much more complex than what has been told, and I would like to wake the world up to these stories, and the other side of life in Chicago as well. Many of the youth and young adults like myself mean well, and yearn for what we desire: happiness. It’s just not always that easy…”
Though a newcomer, Jahzel is well on his way to a long career in the music industry. “The legacy that I want to leave behind is that artistry matters. Writing lyrics that have substance and capturing real emotions matters. Music is a powerful tool, and I want to use it the best way I possibly can for people to be able to connect with me. There are many that share experiences. I want them to know they are not alone.”
Jahzel’s album, The Wake Up, released January 20, 2015.
Following the Release of His Album, The Wake Up, Jahzel and His Team Prep For Hometown Show In the Fifth Episode of Their Webisode Series, Presented by HipHopDX
Premiered by Chicago’s RedEye, the Windy City Rapper Follows the Release of His Album, The Wake Up, With a Captivating Visual
Following the Release of His Album, The Wake Up, Jahzel and His Team Prep For a Meeting At Viacom In the Fourth Episode of Their Webisode Series, Presented by HipHopDX
Following the Release of His Album, The Wake Up, the Chicago Rapper and His Management Team Leave Town For a Press Run
With His Album, The Wake Up, Releasing Next Week, Jahzel Lets Loose a Love Letter To His City, Premiere via Okayplayer
Chronicling the “Other” Side of Chicago Rap is Jahzel’s The Wake Up, Premiere via HotNewHipHop
HipHopDX Presents Jahzel & The Black Key Collective’s Webisode Series, Episode
Chicago Rapper Speaks On His Love For Chi-Town & Promises To Remain Faithful to the City In New Single, Premiere via HotNewHipHop
Premiered By 2DopeBoyz, Jahzel Asks “Who Is You?!” In Dark, Flashy Visual
Like the NBA Legend That the XXL-Premiered Track is Named After, This Chicago Rapper is Willing To Assist
Jahzel Releases Video For First Single Wake Up From Forthcoming Album The Wake Up
Chicago’s Jahzel Find Inspiration In His Local Scene, Shares 2nd Single
HipHopDX Announces October 7th Release Date of the Chicago Rapper’s Forthcoming Album, Talk Unique Marketing Strategy In An Interview
Jahzel Shares All Sides On New Free Album In God’s Image, Available Today
OkayPlayer Premieres New Jahzel Visual For “Carefree,” In God’s Image Album Out July 2
Prefix Mag Premieres Jahzel’s Smooth Track “Carefree,” From In God’s Image
The Smoking Section Premieres New Jahzel Video “Chapters,” Album Out July 2
DJ Booth Premieres Second Single From In God’s Image; Album To Be Released July 2
Potholes In My Blog Premieres New Video For Upcoming Mixtape In God’s Image Releasing June 3rd