They say a comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there. Nothing gives us greater pleasure than watching the evolution of art and the artist behind it. One artist that has us at the edge of our seats with every offering he presents us is Jay Rox.
Formerly a part of award-winning hip hop quartet Zone Fam, Jackson Ngambi, better known as Jay Rox, has continued to wow us with his solo career. He has four albums under his belt and numerous collaborations with his latest album S.C.A.R featuring Tanzania’s Rayvanny and AY on ‘Distance,’ Nigeria’s J Martins on ‘Am in Love’ and Kenya’s Victoria Kimani on ‘Perfect Shot.’
This year the hip hop musician has not only branched out into television with the production of talk show Tuvwange (Let’s Talk) but also created the Prestige Hunter clothing brand launched with The Rox Edition sneakers with Afrishop.
Looking back on his rise to fame, Jay Rox notes that as he undergoes personal growth his music and art must grow with him but still remain relatable.
“I’ve had to understand that as I’m growing, the music has to grow with me, at the same time, at the same pace. So, there has been a lot of thinking about the consumers of the music. I always think about how I don’t want to lose the old fans but I also want to be relatable to the new ones.
So, there’s been a lot of sitting down and making sure that even as we transition with trends that I stay true to who I am and understanding that my listeners are changing, they’re experiencing different things every day,” he details.
Jay Rox reveals that launching and maintaining a solo career has not been the easiest journey and a lot of effort goes into the path he has chosen. Pursuing a solo career has taught him to depend on himself to get things done and to adjust his life to meet his expectations of the man and artist he strives to be.
“When we were in a group we shared some responsibilities. I think there was less stress and less pressure on certain things. But when you’re managing your solo career, most of the decisions have to come from you,” Jay Rox explains.
As a child, when asked what he wanted to be when he grows up he would say he wanted to be a computer engineer like his father but Jay Rox has always wanted to tell stories. Using music as a medium for storytelling came easy to him, and as he has transitioned he has taken the same determination and creativity into TV production. Jay Rox has decided to take a new role, behind the camera. He has opted to tell the same stories that he’s able to put in song and tell them using motion picture.
“When I got into the industry and people started to know my brand, I started thinking of possibilities for when I don’t have that same energy, when I’m not on stage, or unable to record. As I thought about transitioning to a new space, the closest medium I could think of to use for telling stories was film and content production,” Jay Rox tells me.
Known for amazing lyricism, Jay Rox is also a big fan of collaborations and shares that beyond getting into the studio and recording the best part of creating art with them is the conversations they share.
He says, “by far some of the most interesting conversations I have had were with Mumba Yachi before our collaboration. There’s still a lot of artists that I’d like to work with, it’s just a matter of time. Artists like Sjava, Diamond Platnumz, Brymo, Wizkid and so many more.”
Jay Rox states that he is always in competition with himself, challenging himself to create better music and become a better version of himself and he believes in adding “spirit” to every project he puts out.
“I think every song needs to have the spirit. A song without the heart and the spirit is a song that will not do anything. The first thing I think about is how does this make me feel? Then I think about the message, the instrumental and the overall feel of the record,” he continues.
Inspired by a great many things: a drive in the neighbourhood, the sight of a mother with a baby selling something on the street corner and his own life experiences, nothing limits Jay Rox’s wealth of creativity. As he puts it, when something moves him and he feels the need to speak about it he will get into the studio and do it.
“I can’t really say I have a laid out creative process when it comes to music these days. When we switch on the mic I speak from the soul, from the heart. I close my eyes and I feel the music. And that’s how I recorded almost all the songs on S.C.A.R. They were not written, they just came from the heart onto the mic,” he says.
Jay Rox reveals that the biggest lesson he has learned about feeling alive is to never wait for the next second. As we wrap up he says, “You have this second so feel life to the fullest. Feel every emotion as it comes, be it terrible energy that will put you at your lowest point. You’re designed to experience those things to the fullest. Then when you experience everything to the fullest you can say ‘I am alive,’ you can’t be alive if you edit emotions and you edit experiences. Everything has to be felt in the rawest form ever.”