As YG wondered aloud, “Why you hatin’ on the progress?,” one can’t help but feel how that very sentiment applies to so much we experience both on a daily basis and throughout our lifetimes. What’s the point if we’re not moving forward? Placing trust in the process, struggle and progress is what brings us all to where we are today and where we aim to be tomorrow. In music, especially in independent Hip Hop, that’s everything. 

Upstate New York-based emcee AirlineJay embodies that same onward and upward mantra in his music, and with his sincerity, raw talent and ambition, it’s easier to root him on than it is to hate on his progress.

With a growing catalog, which dates back over five years and then some, AirlineJay is an artist where you can pinpoint moments of growth through his music. With his recent work leaning more towards curating a vibe than proving he can rap (he’s already done that), his creativity is blossoming with each loose release as he refines his craft.

Whether he is working on his career as a fitness and streetwear model, or working consistently to advance his music, AirlineJay encompasses the spirit of a seasoned motivational speaker, without being overbearing in sharing his message and his mission. His approachable, authentic self shines through in each and every song, and it’s in that where AirlineJay succeeds the most. He’s making feel-good music and we’re more than here for it. 

The Source: How long have you been doing what you do? How did you get started?

AirlineJay: I’ve been writing for about 11 years, as far as I can remember. It’s kind of funny how I got started. I remember recording freestyles on one of my good friend’s MacBook back in 2006. I mean, I knew I loved music before the GarageBand days, but then is when I started actually recording.

Is there an early memory you’d like to share about getting into your craft, such as when you realized this was more than just a hobby or a passion?

I realized this was more than a hobby when I was about 19 in community college. I used to be in the front of my math class writing lyrics. If I didn’t think school was for me before, that’s when it really registered.

How do you describe your sound?

I would like to think my sound is more of a melodic rap kind of thing. I’m not exactly a singer, but I love experimenting with how I can manipulate my voice in order to make the best music I possibly can. As far as content goes, Im naturally more introspective than anything.

I don’t think much is original so I won’t try to sit here and give you some made-up idea of something I do that’s never been heard/seen before, but what I can tell you is that my stories  and encounters are original and authentic to who I am and that’s all I can offer. I hope it’s received well.

Who are your influences? What is some advice that has stuck with you?

One of my biggest influences is someone I consider an older brother—David. I admire the person he is and who he wants to be.

What is your best advice? 

Be resilient. Life is unpredictable, you just have to learn how to bounce back from the setbacks.

What do you hope people take away from listening to your music?

I want people to feel as if they know me. I want them to understand I’m just like them and a lot of our experiences are probably paralleled.

Tell us a little bit about what concepts or themes that reoccur in your new project.

The concepts and themes that are frequent throughout my next project are definitely pride in friends and family, as well as my admiration for the opposite sex, as always.

What is your creative process like?

The creative process can’t be confined to one concrete method, really. These songs, for example, were written and recorded miles apart. Inspiration sometimes comes in waves so when I feel it I just go with the flow of things. What I can say is, a lot of times I get inspired by production, certain sounds evoke different emotions.

What are you hoping to accomplish next in your career?

As an unsigned artist, my goal at the moment is to gain greater exposure. It can be a very frustrating thing as many know, but my love for writing songs that people can connect with keeps me vibrant in pushing forward.

Photo by Jordan Keyser