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Concert preview: Jahkoy says he can be the face of a new genre of music

At just 23 years old, Toronto-native Jahkoy Palmer has already tasked himself with creating the next popular genre of music. His wide variety of musical influences, international perspective and everyday life experiences all contribute to his unique genre-blending sound that he says will help him achieve his ambitious goals.

“I definitely see myself becoming the face of a new sound and a new style of music,” Jahkoy told the Emerald in a phone interview. “I’m just going to keep pushing and pushing until I’m able to deliver.”

When he grew frustrated by the limitations of the small music scene in his hometown of Toronto, Canada, Jahkoy decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional musician. When he moved, Jahkoy only had one mixtape released on, but it didn’t take long before a talents scout noticed him. Def Jam Recordings signed the young musician in 2016.

In the past, Jahkoy described his music as having a “bipolar” sound, but he prefers not to use that term anymore considering it is a serious mental disorder.

“[That term] was meant to express the idea that my music is all over the place,” Jahkoy said.

Now, he likes to use the metaphor of a fruit salad to describe his sound:

“[In a fruit salad] you’ve got grapes, you got cantaloupe, you got all sorts of things,” Jahkoy said. “In my music, there’s R&B, reggae, elements of house; there’s everything. I love to make music as a whole, I never limit myself to one genre,” Jahkoy said. “I just make music and I try to make it good.”

Jahkoy’s hit-single “California Heaven” opened at No. 38 on Billboard “emerging artists” chart. (Def Jam records)

He credits this ability to navigate through multiple genres to his wide variety of musical influences. His personal catalog ranges from British pop artist Craig David to more mainstream artists such as Andre 3000, Rihanna and Frank Ocean. Although these artists’ music comes from several different styles, they all helped break down barriers for others.

“Artists like that weren’t afraid to tap into different genres and become the outcast. They weren’t afraid of not being the norm,” Jahkoy said. “They set a path for other artists to spread their wings and do more.”

In October 2016, Jahkoy released his first official EP, “Foreign Waters.” The seven-track record features a variety of smooth R&B, up-tempo pop and overall feel-good California vibes. Throughout the album, Jahkoy describes the experience of moving to L.A. and his love for his new home. This is apparent on the album’s hit single, “California Heaven.” The Rico Love-produced track features a guest verse by rapper ScHoolboy Q.

“[Producer] Rico Love and I thought it would be really cool to have one of my favorite California-native artists on the record,” Jahkoy said. “So we reached out and two days later we had a verse from him.”

Jahkoy is currently promoting his record as one of the opening acts for Kehlani’s Sweet Sexy Savage tour. British R&B singer Ella Mai and Japanese alternative rock band Noodles serve as the tour’s other openers.

He first met Kehlani when they both performed at Lollapalooza last year. Since then, the two have developed a close friendship. They have even discussed collaborating in the future but haven’t had time to write anything due to their rigorous tour schedule. 

Read the Emerald’s Q&A with Atlanta rapper Nick Grant here.

This is his first nationwide tour, but performing with a high-profile artist is nothing new for Jahkoy. He has opened for The Chainsmokers, The Neighborhood, and Tinashe in the past.

So far every stop on the tour has sold out, according to Jahkoy. He added that audiences usually show up early and stay for the duration of the performances. Jahkoy says he tries to make sure every crowd member is having a good time with his energetic stage presence.

After each show, Jahkoy likes to go out into the audience and meet some of his fans. To him, that’s what being an artist is all about: making music, performing music, then experiencing and sharing the music with the crowd.

Read the Emerald’s interview with rapper Vince Staples here.

“An artist isn’t anything without their fans,” Jahkoy said.

Critics say that despite his natural talent and impressive first release, the Toronto-native turned California-rising star needs to develop his sound in order to capitalize on his recent success. Jahkoy says he’s only just begun.  

He likes to use writing a book as a metaphor for his musical career.

“I feel like I’m just finished writing the intro and am about to start the first chapter,” Jahkoy said. “This tour is going to set the tone for the rest of the book.”

Jahkoy will perform with Kehlani, Ella Mai, and Noodles on Friday at WOW Hall. The show is sold out. 

Follow Zach Price on Twitter: @zach_price24 

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Zach Price

Zach Price

Zach Price is the Editor in Chief of the Emerald. He likes to write about music and watch Trail Blazer games.

Reach Zach at [email protected]