Triumphant, jubilant and undeniably grooving, Daye Jack took hold of the small amount of stage space leftover by the equipment of the later two acts of the night and made it his own. The crowd at Bowery Ballroom nearly doubled in size during his set — partly because that’s the general course of events during the opening set of a concert, and partly because his vivacious hip-hop drew crowd members up from the depths of the venue’s bar into the main room.
He had the crowd swaying and chanting, waving their hands in the air during a song dedicated to the black victims of police violence. His voice boomed out over the PA system — “I’m walking with my head down / my hands up, don’t shoot.” There was something both sentimental and invigorating about a tribute to fallen brothers while smiling and living out your dream of being a self-styled musician.
Daye Jack’s story is just that — a dream. As he explained in a recent interview with WSN, it is his own personal American dream.
“I’m a first-generation immigrant from Nigeria,” Jack said. “I moved here when I was six years old and am now pursuing what’s considered the American dream, what’s sold to nations and countries all around the world — that you can move to America and better yourself and better your family.”
After leaving the town outside of Atlanta, Georgia where he grew up to study computer science at NYU on a full scholarship, Jack was quickly picked up by Max Martin and signed to Martin’s label. Jack was then jettisoned off to Los Angeles where he immediately began working with top artists and recording his most recent LP, “Surf the Web.” Since then, he’s grown even bigger and recorded another new LP, “No Data,” due to be released on March 24.
As soon as he finished recording the album, Jack hopped on tour with acclaimed rapper K.Flay and indie band Paper Route. Their stop at Bowery Ballroom was one of the tour’s last shows, and a bit of a homecoming for Jack. When asked about the experience — both K.Flay and Paper Routes contrast quite a bit from Jack’s own sound — he said it felt like exactly what he was supposed to be doing.
“A lot of things on this tour were kinda signifying that it was meant to be,” Jack said.” I was telling my friends about it — I was telling my friends that I’d be in Vegas for my 21st birthday, and days after my 21st birthday, the first show of the tour was in Vegas.”
Obtaining the right to drink legally isn’t the only way Jack has grown up and into himself, though. Both his outward persona and his upcoming album are representations of his growing maturity.
“The whole message [of “No Data”] is self-acceptance and teenagers entering adulthood and the transition there — where you’re asking questions like ‘How do I be cool? How do I make money? How do I find love?’” Jack said. “We’re all in this digital age where there’s a lot of information as to finding answers for that, whether it’s going on Tinder or sliding into someone’s DM’s to find a girl that you love. There’s just so much information that tells you what’s cool and what’s not cool, how do you do this, how do you do that. I think in all of that mess, you lose sight of yourself. So this album is just almost to just tell kids to be yourself. Act the way you want to act, dress the way you want to dress. And everything else will sort itself out.”
Jack mentioned that particularly in our current political climate, it’s important to foster a world that promotes acceptance instead of division.
“I think it’s very important for an artist, especially in times like these, to sort of capture exactly what’s going on and bring about change,” Jack said. “This is a nation founded by immigrants, and when someone comes in and tries to change that rhetoric and prevent people from entering the nation, I think it would be dumb for an artist not to stand up. Especially one like me, where this hits so close to home.”
If anyone is set to make a difference, it’s Jack. As the political climate grows increasingly volatile and the music industry heads in a direction toward who-knows-where, it’s artists like him who have a versatility, an energy and a dream that will blaze paths the rest of us will follow.
“No Data” will be released via Warner Bros. Records on March 24. Read a previous interview with him here.
Email Hailey Nuthals at [email protected]