Photo courtesy of artist
It isn’t uncommon for an artist to go through rebranding in the early stages of their career. At 11-years old, Jahkoy Palmer had decided to start rapping under Raheem, a name that had been given to him by his father’s side of the family. But Palmer quickly realized how many other Raheem’s he was competing with musically after a quick Google search, which prompted a switch in his moniker. The now 20-year old artist from Toronto decided to change his artist name to his birth name, and began making music as Jahkoy.
Changing his name was just the start of the new career direction. In the fall of 2013, his project Dying To Live Forever not only debuted the new name but also presented a difference in the sound and content that Palmer describes as “bipolar,” going so far as to put that genre label on his music when uploading it to Soundcloud, and eventually turning it into the name of his new collective. “Initially it was because people would ask me, ‘What kind of genre of music do you make?’ and it just picked up and stuck as I was promoting the music.”
In an attempt to reach a whole new audience with his music, Jahkoy made it his mission to have his brand be showcased beyond Toronto. So he left the city and moved to Hollywood. After leaving Toronto last November, he’s now living in Los Angeles working on a possible publishing deal with 1916 Management (who also manages Toronto producers Matthew Burnett and Jordan Evans) because he feels like staying in the city would have stalled his career. “The community and market of music [in Toronto] isn’t as big as we think it is,” he says, “And it’s never going to expand to the length that we expect it to.”
Essentially, he’s trying to avoid being left behind or forgotten in a list of up-and-coming artists in Toronto. “I don’t doubt that anyone can make it out of Toronto, but the chances of it happening are very minimal so I wanted to try to get out of there and get into positions of opportunity that I would never get in the city.”
The way Palmer sees it, the difference of opportunities between Toronto and LA lies heavily on what is available geographically. All these artists, producers, and songwriters many up-and-coming rappers and singers want to work with are just already here. “For example, there’s a Universal studio in Toronto and there’s a Universal here. If I was in the studio or office in Toronto I would probably bump into other up-and-coming artists, but if I’m in the Universal office or studio in LA there’s a chance I can run into Kendrick, I can run into Chris Brown and I can mainly run into them because everyone is just here. There’s just a lot more opportunities.”
One of those opportunities happened just recently when he was granted the chance to work with a Grammy Camp 1916 put together. Palmer was able to get into the studio with producers and songwriters that were a part of the Grammy’s this year and work on potential records for certain artists, more specifically with Talay Riley who has worked on songs for artists like Chris Brown and Austin Mahone. It was a last minute thing and something he would have definitely missed out on if he hadn’t been geographically available.
After moving to the West Coast and being around other songwriters in the studio for the first time, it’s no surprised there’s been another bipolar turn behind the sound of his new single “All The Things You Do” off his next EP Temptations.
Tania Peralta is a writer living in Toronto - @juelzsantania