The way the electronic dance scene is set up makes it difficult for many talented producers and DJs to find a steady stream into which they feel comfortable enough to dive.
From the talent-less personas that enter the atmosphere just to get a quick buck/rise to fame to the mediocre, yet marketable, talent that is favored over the underground-ers, it’s no wonder this over saturated game’s surface has been more challenging than ever to break. However, there are always two kinds of people: the ones who give up–because, perhaps, this was after all just a hobby–and the ones who stay up all night, every night, listening to music every hour of the day just to perfect their craft. One of Plainfield, New Jersey’s youngest & quickly rising producer, $JAYY/Sensay Syd, is neither of the two. He’s somewhere off in his own realm, diving off of whatever musical atmosphere he’s cemented himself in straight into a new one we all can have access to: Soundcloud. “I feel like the Chance The Rapper of Jersey Club (laughs). I always find time to make music, and, if I’m not, then I’m either watching an old ass Spike Lee movie or laying down bumping chill beats.”
“Bringing beautiful soul to ugly beats,” the 16-year-old born as Sydney Johnson got an early start to the music production game. Beginning at an unbelievable age of 11, $JAYY became inspired by the Jersey Club genre after scrolling through local producer’s Myspace pages including DJ Sliink, DJ Tray, 93rd, MikeGip, and DJ Mimi. “Growing up, when Sliink was YoungMoneyCrew and Tray was ToonSquad, I would hop on MySpace everyday just to listen to these two dudes who I thought were the absolute shit…Sliink’s “My Sunshine”…Dude, I thought THAT SONG was like the best club track ever made.” The inspiration that bled through his speakers motivated him to create his own sounds that could potentially make other people feel the same. After downloading an FL Studios Demo in 2010, he began creating music; not the greatest of quality and definitely not the best production as he explains, “THEY WERE TRASH! But, we progressed.”
Selecting newer inspiration stems from the current Jersey Club game changers including TR!CK$, UNIIQU3, R3LL, Gutta and Nadus, $JAYY’s club production side of music can easily be considered an inspiration on its own. Making room for both professional dancers and club/festival goers, he perfectly balances the many styles of production he can choose. The experienced Jersey Club dancers get more of the vocal chops from him, while the larger crowds (that might not be as familiar with the genre) get something equally as dance worthy, but a bit more sensual; slow enough for them to keep up, but quick enough to maintain the average Jersey Club BPM range.
Even though $JAYY has been cosigned by the likes of HOODBOI and UNiiQU3–who put him in her top 5 artists that should be put on–and has even worked with some of his inspirations including 93rd and DJ LILMAN, there is still a growing divide within the culture of Jersey Club that keeps $JAYY on his toes.
I think things are separated… Yeah, definitely separated. Because, there are like two sections in Jersey Club now, which is dope… But, it also sucks and it’s getting way too competitive between everybody. Ever since Sliink, Nadus, and my sis UNiiQU3 hit that “success pinnacle” [or what people perceive said success to be], everybody wants to do the same. You have people that are coming out of nowhere trying to make it overnight… Like, what makes you so special? How was your grind different than mine? What did you do? Feel me? Not to sound like no Kanye or anything, it’s just how I see club now.
While some may consider this type of competition within the music industry a burden, $JAYY channels that energy into something that will separate him from that: Sensay Syd. While he produces Jersey Club music under the moniker $JAYY, Sensay Syd is the beat making master that plays around with the mellow side of Sydney’s personality. He found a niche and “happy place” in the “refreshing and lovely” sounds of artists including Iman Omari, Poptartpete, DojaCat, MNDSGN, Ohliv and more. “And, I continuously thank my bro Jarred–who raps as “Jae.Island“–and RennGodson because they played a huge part in helping me see that Jersey club is dope, but [there are other sounds out there]. They gave me the inspiration to make these happy, mellow beats…instead of all that trap, “f**k women, get money” type of style. It’s cool, but I swear that’s what blinds the music industry and artists…”
Listening to all of his sounds, it’s easy to get deeply immersed and completely forget the fact that this guy is only 16 years old! Although he is that young, he’s very aware of his talents and has large goals. In five years he’s aiming to be on a live stage with a band of his own (for Sensay Syd’s style) in addition to having his own custom designed thrift shop in Jersey. He’s even got his own set of “rules” to abide by that help him get through the struggles of “making it” in this type of industry, “Stay humble and chill, be yourself…Never be afraid to give personal feedback, and most importantly COMMUNICATE AND REACH OUT because there are millions of others doing what you’re doing.” Time will only tell, where Sydney Johnson/$JAYY/Sensay Syd will be, but in the meantime we can look forward to his upcoming ‘ERF’ EP, a special project with another club tastemaker Brenmar and the Jersey Kween UNiiQU3, and another project with Knightwerk Records.
In the words of Syd himself, “I’m pretty fucking dope at producing, so I do it…”