Arguably Kenya’s top rapper, Jay A is taking the game to international levels!


Jay A
Jay A


In the Nairobi Urban airwaves a great song is banging loud. I’m on my way home from work and I hear a young singing along to the lyrics. It’s a chilly morning and he’s headed to school.  The song’s title is Dumbala Reloaded.The original one was pretty successful and I talk to the guy behind the jam. In this remix he features top local talent DNA, Sage, Kenrazy, Visita and Madtraxx. Ali ‘Jay A’ Juma is a fast rising rapper in the country. He has done several hits to date and sure he won’t be a one wonder hit guy as far as I am concerned! Apart from topping charts in Kenyan radio e.g. Homeboys radio, he has already had his music play on Trace TV, MTV Base, and Channel O and had his track ‘Gello’ played on 106 & Park.

The term ‘Dumbala’ means a relaxed situation where people are peaceful and having fun.

“This Must Be Pop” by Pop blogger Jessica discovers singing talent in the global music scene and has stayed true to its ‘Future Hits’ or ‘Future Stars’ trend by being credible. From the likes of Lorde, Jacob Latimore, McFly, One Direction, The Wanted to Embl3m, Ross Lynch, Disclosure to  AlunaGeorge she has perfectly predicted the success of these and even more bands/ musical groups. I foresee Jay going places with his hardwork and consistency

Jay A
Jay A

As a writer I find inspiration in people who are keen on working hard to their way up. For example, Maya Angelou rents a local hotel room and goes there to write. She arrives at 6:30 AM, writes until 2 PM, and then goes home to do some editing. She never sleeps at the hotel. Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon writes five nights per week from 10 PM to 3 AM. Haruki Murakami wakes up at 4 AM, writes for five hours, and then goes for a run. It’s the mastering of daily habits that leads to creative success, not some mythical spark of genius.

With Jay A, his first project with local radio presenter Amina for Capital FM was a smash hit, and it proved that he can really stand out and make Kenyan music sound unique. He insists on not copy-pasting. I personally like the mystique, the unique because life is too short to be boring! Despite making ladies love him more [like Jason Derulo (Stupid Love) and John Legend (All of me)]he remains humble and collected. Humility takes people to great heights and sure he’s headed there!

I talked to him and him and this is what he told me about his journey, his latest projects, love for animals and future prospects. And like teen sensation Lorde has a very supportive boyfriend wrote this article about her, he also has someone who’s making sure that he gets the love and support he needs:


Me: Where did you school?

JAY A: I went St. Mary’s School Nairobi for my Primary Education then to St. Nicholas High.

Me: The latest effort in your musical journey, Dumbala remix has been
doing great since its release last year. Could you tell us how you feel about this success?

JAY A: The response is unbelievable. The Dumbala original was a huge success reaching all its targeted audience; however we still felt the need to reach a wider audience and thus the Re-Load which has become such a big hit.

Jay A in action in the Dumbala video. Image credit: of 254 digital.
Jay A in action in the Dumbala video. Image credit: 254 digital.

Me: Who would you like to collaborate with in the international entertainment scene? Wiz Khalifa, Tyga or Loso

Me: What has been the biggest challenge in reaching out to your audience, the people who identify with you, putting in mind that your style is a little different?

JAY A: I must admit I really feel so blessed because I have only encountered the normal marketing challenges which fortunately for me have only been minimal. My target audience has been very responsive and supportive.

Me: What makes you unique?

JAY A: Diversity; Singing across different genre- R&B, Hip Hop, Afro Fusion and a different Rap style.
Me: I first knew you when I heard your song ‘On Me ft Amina’, before that, had you worked on any other projects that we probably would want to listen to?

JAY A: My first song was titled “Clap Yo Hands”, a hip hop track with Jamaican fusion.

Me: Man, how do you cope with all the love ladies show you, considering that you are in a relationship?

JAY A: That is what makes this industry very challenging, I have been able to strike a good balance between the two keeping it very professional.

Me: Why do you think that not many local musicians make it to the international scene and what can be done?

JAY A: I believe that the language barrier and Management issues are the main contributing factors.

Me: Who is your musical inspiration?

JAY A: Wiz khalifa

Jay A's inspiration, Internationally acclaimed rapper Wiz Khalifa
Jay A’s inspiration, Internationally acclaimed rapper Wiz Khalifa

Me: Are you a party animal?

JAY A: I used to be but now I am more the indoors kinda guy though once in a while I party with friends.
Me: What is your current take on young girls who want to ride the ‘socialite radar’ as seen on the Facebook pages? Is this the way to go?

JAY A: Honestly I don’t like interfering with people’s business but I don’t feel this is the only way to seek attention.

Me: What are your current musical projects?

JAY A: Wow! All I can tell my Fans is to expect bigger and better Jay A fusions soon.

Me: That one moment that changed your life forever?

JAY A: When I became brand Jay A.

Me: Any social/community work you have in mind or have been doing?

JAY A: I am working on a major community project with my Management Team and will soon launch it.

Me: You take education seriously and you recognize that art alone, not only in Kenya but in the whole world is not a guarantee for steady income as few have managed to live off their talent-they actually invest in businesses and other ventures. What advice do you have for your fellow youth who ought to take masomo seriously?

JAY A: Education is the key success there are no short cuts around that. One needs to take education seriously, and if one is talented then let that be a you can a side hustle, until they graduate.

Me: Which is your favorite book?

JAY A: Action books help me to relax and thus The Lord of the Rings is one my favourite books.

Jay A's favorite book! Image credit: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Jay A’s favorite book! Image credit: Houghton Mifflin Co.


Me: What do you do during your free time?

JAY A: I listen to music, compose, watch movies or hang out.

Me: Your favorite movie?

JAY A: Pirates of the Caribbean.

Jay's favorite movie
Jay’s favorite movie

Me: Have you ever been rejected in a relationship before? How did you deal with it?

JAY A: I must count my blessings here too that I have not been rejected so far, however I would think the best thing is to accept that that is part of life and when it happens to pick up the pieces and move on.

Me: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

JAY A: I am fortunate to have penetrated the international market so early in my career, and I see myself being among the key players from our region in the international arena.

Me: Your favorite African artist?

JAY A: Oskido for the simple reason that his beats are really catchy
Me: You are the youngest rapper in the country, technically. What was it like when you were a newbie before establishing your roots?

JAY A: It wasn’t easy I experienced so much hate, negativity and criticism, but I chose to remain focused on my vision and mission and within a short time I built my Brand.
Me: Any take on the leadership in Kenya? How can youth cope with the current issue of unemployment and underemployment, ’cause man, there is so much talent out there-guys just don’t know how to harness it.

JAY A: My take is that the government has capacity to create employment beyond what they promised during their election campaigns, this does not mean white collar jobs. My advice to our leaders is to get rid of three things; corruption, tribalism and nepotism. One thing is certain Kenyan youth are abundantly talented and all they need is a chance to grow their talents into income generating projects. This can only happen in a conducive environment.

Amina, the girl with whom Jay A worked with on 'On Me"
Amina, the girl with whom Jay A worked with on ‘On Me”

Me: What don’t guys know about you that you would like to let them know?

JAY A: I love animals very much; it really pains me a lot when I see people mistreating or killing animals,

Me: Any words  for that someone out there, who feels that he/she is in obscurity and is having a hard time getting noticed for what they are doing?

JAY: I believe am among the living examples that anything is possible if you follow your dream and remain focused, because in life you will always encounter challenges. Always look for opportunities in the difficulties.

You can connect with Jay A on his Twitter and by liking his Facebook Page!






5 thoughts on “Arguably Kenya’s top rapper, Jay A is taking the game to international levels!

  • Reblogged this on scarletwrite and commented:
    Here goes a reblog of my favourite ever article on Jay A (whom I actually work for) by my friend Harun.
    Since the article was done,Jay A has released 4 more songs.Only you which featured a young Rwandese singer Neneh,Get money,a massive collaboration with Jamaican songbird Tiana titled Dont Stop and his latest hit titled Smash.
    He was also part of Coke Studio Africa season 2 last year where he was paired up with one of Nigeria’s hottest sensation Seyi Shay and they worked their way to being one of the most favourite duos yet on the show with chemistry filled performances that the fans could not get enough of.
    Jay A has also been nominated for various awards including Mdundo awards and Bingwa awards.
    With all that said he is not about to stop as he is gearing to release yet another international collabo soon that will definately get tongues wagging.
    The soft spoken rapper is surely the present and the future of Kenyan hiphop and beyond.

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