An influential voice in Buffalo’s Hip-Hop scene, rapper Jae Skeese takes his lyricism to a new level with Asphalt Calligraphy. Released early last month, the 8th project from the East Side rhymer signifies a turning point in his decade long rap career. Assisted by a handful of dynamic and energetic feature artists, Jae paints a stronger, self-realized perspective of success on the album.
“I want my message to be positive, and I want my message to be something that can touch people, and inspire them to be as great as they can be,” Jae Skeese explained.
A bold display of learnt lessons and eager advice, Asphalt Calligraphy finds Jae Skeese confidently moving his weight around as a respected voice in Buffalo’s rap game. Explaining the album as “intricate writing for the streets,” Jae ushers in the project with an urgent tone, spitting “Niggas out here really wasting time/ Women out here really wasting time.” Standout tracks like “Time,” “Wealth for your Mind” featuring Lord Von and “Main Ingredients” finds greater value in knowledge rather than things. Exploring the concept of success and reality further, Jae confronts civil injustices, the human condition and wealth in tracks like “Quiet Man,” “Lights On” and the Genecist assisted “War.”
Along with Jae Skeese’s handpicked features and abundant wordplay, a hefty portion of the production by Mitch Arizona solidified Jae’s messages. Boom-Bap to the core, the production value feels spacious thanks to lingering synths and delicate bell rings on the intro and outro of select tracks. Overall, Asphalt Calligraphy is an artistic, urgent, well-intended call to action with Jae Skeese impressively leading the charge.
“I can actually spit bars at people, I can teach people, and I can also have a message that transcends time,” Jae Skeese concluded.
Jae Skeese sits at an interesting position in the scope of Queen City’s cultural renaissance. An early leader of Buffalo Hip-Hop’s new school sound, Jae has maintained a style and message that seasoned rap purists also appreciate. Intersecting creativity, knowledge and style, the rising rapper is able to explore different ideas while still staying original. Admired for his strong, developed and unique voice, it took growing pains to reach his latest peak.
Losing his father at a young age, Jae found refuge in music. Forming a relationship with a childhood friend’s uncle who rapped, named Jay Villians, young Jae often listened to his mixtapes and would beat-box for the rapper in his studio. A chill spot for Jae and his friends, Jay Villain’s studio taught the rhymer to-be, about music creation. Watching producers work, encouraged Jae to start rapping himself.
Performing in a short-lived rap group and featured on Jay Villian’s compilation mixtape in his early teens, Jae Skeese continued to grow as a wordsmith; But it wasn’t until he dropped his first solo mixtape titled Women. Alcohol. Cash. Kicks (W.A.C.K for short) that garnered significant attention.
LISTEN TO W.A.C.K HERE: https://jaeskeese716.bandcamp.com/album/w-a-c-k-women-alcohol-cash-kicks-aka-the-ocho-dedication
Deeply inspired by national artists from Jay-Z, Nas and Lupe Fiasco to local heroes like Buff City and DJ Shay, 21- year old Jae Skeese’s ambitious, lyrical approach to his music cemented a pivotal moment in Buffalo’s Hip-Hop Scene. Creating W.A.C.K at his home/ makeshift party venue known as “Ocho”, young Jae encapsulated the youthful energy of that time.
“Ocho was definitely a creative hub, and it was my room. It was a 4-bedroom apartment…Me getting a studio in the crib. Us making music. People would just come over and they would just listen to the new songs as we were making them,” Jae Skeese recounted.
Forming collectives, making music with friends, and trending on Twitter in 2010, Jae’s influence signified the introduction of new talent in Buffalo. With W.A.C.K ‘s playful, audacious sound setting precedent in the city, Jae decided to switch up his flow for his following works.
“Every time I pen a verse, I wanna say something that you’ve never heard before,” mentioned Jae Skeese.
Dropping a series of projects that are just as lyrical as W.A.C.K, but far more immersive and introspective, the young rhymer’s focus on staying unpredictable in his craft, conflicted with public reception; but that didn’t falter his consistency. From his sophmore project Negative Nothing to his 2015 piece 13, the unique rapper maintained a rich and distinct narrative throughout his discography.
Moving to Syracuse in 2015, having his daughter in 2016 and moving back to Buffalo in 2017, Jae Skeese took a break from music. Despite losing some momentum in the city, Jae’s surprise feature on longtime friend and artist, Billie Essco’s 2018 album Cafe, brought back the hype for his return. Dropping singles and teaser freestyles throughout the rest of that year built the foundation for his following full length project, Subjective Humility that released in early 2019.
“I took a hiatus and it kinda set me back a little, but it also gave me an opportunity to reintroduce myself, “ mentioned Jae Skeese.
The impressive growth of Buffalo’s Hip-Hop in 2019 is necessary to mention. With a diverse set of rap acts forming, urban entertainment spaces popping up around the city, and the national rise of the notorious, homegrown rap trio Griselda, Jae’s timing could not have been better. The rising rhymer’s concise 10 track project leveled the sonic playing field. Polished, yet explorative, Subjective Humility displayed a confidence and maturity from Jae Skeese that felt refreshing.
“One thing that my mom had always like told me, growing up as a kid, forever; was always be conscious of your actions, the way you act, what you’re doing and what you say to people…that’s something that always stuck with me,” recounted Jae Skeese.
A consistent thread between all of the Jae Skeese’s projects is his awareness. Creatively transparent, it is not a surprise that the rising rapper would eventually flex his artistic abilities on different canvases. Starting his clothing brand “Brown, not Black, Live Your Creed” (BNBLYC for short) in 2017 and putting on his first art event with notable artist Seeing Sounds this past summer, Jae utilizing his multiple talents extended his reach as an artist.
“The energy that I have between painting, between my brand, between music just hasn’t stopped…Every week, everyday I’ve been doing something new, I’ve been creating something new. I’ve been striving to keep going every single day,” explained Jae Skeese.
Initially using “Collect Your Wealth” as a phrase to promote Subjective Humility, the statement soon became synonymous with his brand. Also releasing visuals for that project, Jae capitalized on the moment he created. Applying that strategy to Asphalt Calligraphy, the unique rapper put together a handful of limited edition Quickstrike Release Sets that included limited merch, a physical copy and a designed encasement for the items.
“What I strived to do with the Quickstrike pack was just create a moment. And create something that’s tangible and that people could say “Yo, I have that!” mentioned Jae Skeese.
A bonafide trendsetter, Jae’s influence as a painter and clothing brand owner has elevated his message as a rapper. His drive and purpose as an artist has catapulted his force, pushing the Hip-Hop culture forward in the Queen City. Without a doubt, Jae Skeese contributions to Buffalo’s soundscape is profound and evergrowing.
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