This New Jersey native checks all the boxes: raised in poverty, violence, college dropout, and homelessness. Despite the circumstances, j.aaron managed to make a career out of the very thing he credits to keeping him alive; music.
With his troubled past behind him, he’s on a different road searching for his Black Boy Joy in a time where race is always a heated conversation. His sound reflects just that.
Through the rawness of his baritone vocals shines a warmth that is undeniably contagious. From his soulful melodies to the spirited flow of his heartfelt verses, his music finds a depth in pop that is rarely matched, ranging from feel-good vibes and healing to love, heartbreak and loss. His most recent release has us delving into a buoyant fusion of contemporary R&B meets Hip-hop. “Ah Lyke It,” carries forth an energetic quintessence that addresses heavy subjects such as anxiety and depression with a light-hearted wit.
The manner in which j.aaron transitions his melodic spirit on the vibrant instrumentation speaks into his multifaceted techniques as an artist. One moment you’re gliding along to the soul-infused cadences that vividly produce a punchy impact, and the next moment you’re drowning in his extensive timbres that provide you with a warm blanket of relatability. He’s an artist of true dynamism as he serves up each intricately crafted word through the authentic vocalization that dangles glimmers of hope in a charismatic essence.
With a repertoire of musical influences such as Frank Ocean, Anderson. Paak, Chance The Rapper, and many more, you hear the inspiration tie into not only the subject matter professed, but the passion trickling from his tonal distinction. As we come to the final moments of “Ah Lyke It,” the harmonies take on a nostalgic nod to the soulful legends to come before j.aaron. With each vocal layer, you feel a sense of triumph reign supreme as the obstacles that j.aaron has had to overcome to bask in his success is truly astounding.
Listen to “Ah Lyke It,” here.
Welcome to BuzzMusic j.aaron, and congratulations on the release of your latest single, “Ah Lyke It.” We are obsessed with the numerous flows that you take on as you incorporate your charming person through the subject matter. Was there a specific moment that inspired the meaning behind this track? For sure! I just remember feeling creatively stifled in quarantine. I’d been putting off releasing music for years now and I’ve hidden behind a lot of other acts through performing and writing. The pandemic hit and I pivot to writing - had songs stolen by people, collabed with some folks selling K-Pop tunes, nothing was sticking. That’s when I had a moment where I realized that for almost a decade, I had been writing and singing everyone else’s music for everyone else but myself. I was writing about shit I didn’t care about and shit that wasn’t real. I knew that I wanted to talk about what people around me weren’t but was afraid to put myself out there. It wasn’t until I had a fortuitous conversation with legendary songwriter Thomas Bähler (Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson’s “She’s Out Of My Life”) where he gave me the best piece of advice yet - “Tell the truth.” I wrote Ah Lyke It the next day. With a song of this caliber, what did the creative and recording process look like when bringing it to life? Did you have any assistance with achieving the sound we hear?
Well, I was pretty fortunate to run into this awesome beat produced by GC & Tantu Beats. It was definitely one of those instances where the song jumps out at you, one of those that kind of writes itself. I don’t get a lot of those so I knew I had something. And I’ve always been scared about my singing voice, even though I’ve made a career performing live in NYC. The story I have in my head is people just love high, safe, and soft voices. My voice is definitely not that. So I teamed up with Josh Florez (Zendaya, Khalid) to help focus and dial in my sound. He was super cool and really helped me get there. Between him, years of performing live, and some pretty unique life experiences, that’s the sound you hear.
How important is it for you to be transparent with your audience about the trials and tribulations faced in your life?
It’s the most important thing to me. I’ve spent a lot of time hiding myself and my past from people. I’m not super ashamed or anything like that but the experience was once people got to know my past, it was hard for them to relate to me and me to them. It just felt like they thought of me differently and I didn’t like that. It surprises a lot of people because I don’t “seem” like someone who used to be homeless or around violence, all that stuff. But what I’m learning is that through this music is that people are not only able to see me but to see themselves as well. People are getting things from it. Now, I’m all about healing and owning it. I actually am different and that’s okay! Those experiences made me who I am and I wouldn’t be here today without them.
What are you hoping your listeners take away from the themes and messaging in “Ah Lyke It?"
Healing, community and fuck the "Push Through" narrative. More than anything, this song is about not being alone. The song is an example of how it can look, feel, and sound to be cool with the quirks that the world deems unsavory or weird. I'm learning to fall in love with being different and it's fun! My hope is that anyone who hears it can really feel that I want the same for them. Oh, and make sure to pay your rent.