Jay Lonzo Spits More Knowledge at 17 Years Old Than Many Do In a Lifetime (Video)
On January 16, J. Cole acknowledged Martin Luther King, Jr. and the ongoing fight for equality and freedom in the U.S. with “High For Hours,” a poignant record that compares 2017 America to chapters in its dark past. As he says in the song, not much has changed, and slavery has only shapeshifted, not disappeared. The song clearly had an effect on Jay Lonzo, the Brooklyn MC who, despite still being in his teens, is beginning to amass the kind of acclaim and buzz an emergent artist dreams of. This week, he has released a response to J. Cole, dropping a “High For Hours” of his own, complete with lyrical content that rivals many of his contemporaries.
Similar to Cole, Jay mentions Martin Luther King Day right away and says Cole’s song came just in time. But the 17-year-old gets far deeper than simply tipping his hat. “I got a question, why at 17 either always with the dean or speaking on my depression?,” he asks. Those are highly introspective words from any artist, let alone one who is still in high school. As he continues, he spits some serious truths about history that even MCs with years of experience don’t begin to broach in their music. “I been thinking, who is it that I’m really supposed to trust?/Even Lincoln didn’t care about us, slaves to sharecroppers,” he says of President Abraham Lincoln, whose signing of the Emancipation Proclamation is often used to gloss over his racist ideology. He addresses the fact that we are not taught about the real history of Black America, saying he’s here to “weed out the fiction” while also remaining aware that in so doing, he like many others will have a target on his back.
Jay also touches upon mass incarceration, the use of the N-word as a means of oppression, his fear of police, and whether he possesses the inner strength to rally alongside his people to truly affect revolutionary change to a system built to break him down. “Revolution starts from within, but here’s a setback/Nowadays, people care too much about they self/How we gon’ change the world when they caught up in the wealth?/It’s hard for you to see these issues, it’s in the youth/But you give me inspiration, now I’m giving you the truth,” he rhymes. He carries on his mission to shed light on what’s really preventing young people from being taught the truth through art, saying “these miseducated entertainers flood the game/And make it 50 times harder for people to make a name/I’m just sayin’, people tune us out to a degree/’Cause they’d rather not know, and I’m sure you can agree/Where’s the balance that they talk about? ‘Cause I don’t see it/Everybody wanna change, but nobody wanna be it.”
With just 10 tracks currently listed on his SoundCloud, Jay Lonzo still remains on the brink of breaking through. His version of “High For Hours” suggests that he has the makings of an artist we need now more than ever, so perhaps 2017 will be the year the promising MC releases a project. In an era of alternative facts, fake news, tyrannic politicians, and a general sense of confusion, the lyrics in Jay’s “High For Hours” are invaluable. Sadly, there are few artists in this vein who truly are given a major platform on which to spread their messages, for fear their lyrics will be too political, too inflammatory, and too real for widespread circulation. However, as we’ve seen with artists like Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, T.I., and others, it is during times of great upheaval and turmoil that truly powerful art springs from mainstream Rap. If at just 17, Jay is already releasing music that deftly peels back the layers of the historical, political, and psychological deceit we’ve been spoonfed by the powers that be, it begs the question: will Jay Lonzo be given the space and freedom to become the next truly great artist of a generation? Only time will tell.