The Bronx born and Decatur raised recording artist talks about his early rhyme schemes, turning from a life of crime and how a chance meeting made him a “Konvict.”
How did you come to be called Money Jay?
My middle name is Jay [first and last, Tysen Bolden]…and then when I was young I started hustling and people would say, “what’s up, money?” so I just made it Money Jay.
How did you get into hip-hop?
When I was little I started writing raps. I got into Puff Daddy and Tupac and all of them. I would take they beats, ‘cause tapes came with the instrumentals on the singles and I’d be writing the raps how they wrote it, with just different words. I was rapping to my friends at school ‘till I got better and better and better. When I was like 13, I recorded into the tape deck, then I got a computer with a $50 microphone, you know, the makeshift studio and all that. I just built up as I went [along] until I could get to a real studio and record. I did my first mixtape and that’s when I got signed.
Where did you go to school?
Southwest DeKalb [High School]
The first thing I learned about them was about their band. Did that make you more interested in hip-hop?
Yeah, I loved the music. Half our school was in the band. I played the trombone. What happened was… I never really actually got the chance to get into it. I got expelled my fourth week in school.
I got caught with a weapon and somebody told on me.
What impact did that have on you personally and in your music?
I thought I wasn’t gonna be able to graduate high school, but what ended up happening was, my mama put me in a private school, an alternative private school. That way, I was able to stay on the right path.
There were a lot less distractions.
Yeah, it was only like 11 students in the whole school, so there was no choice, but to do your work.
So that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
It was a real blessing.
Now, moving forward you’re now 25, what about you and your style makes people sit up and take notice?
Really my music, a lot of people can relate to ‘cause a lot of my partners who are out here say, “when you say a line, I get chills in my body, ‘cause I do the same thing you talk about in that song.” A lot of my music is just stories of what I witnessed and what I been through. I rap about my daily activities. I rap about smokin’, drinkin’, typical stuff people rap about.
What were some of your influences?
When I was young, Ma$e was out, Puff, OutKast, 8Ball and MJG and UGK were big influences, too. There was a rapper named Playa Fly that was out, he was my favorite rapper at the time – him and Three 6 Mafia. I went from East [coast] to West [coast] and slowly gravitated toward the South and then South[ern] music was all I listened to.
How did you get signed to Akon’s Konvict Muzik label?
One day I was up on Glenwood and Columbia Drive. You know that Checker’s that sits up there? I was sittin’ at the table passing out my CDs. I had a mixtape called No Trap Zone so it was me and my homegirls giving out my CDs. We was just givin’ ‘em out for free and Akon just happened to come through, and I didn’t believe it was him. They said, “That’s Akon, that’s Akon.” I said, “no that’s not Akon.” They went and took him a CD. He came back 'cause he had forgot his drink. I said [to him] "are you listening to it?" He said, "Yeah, I'm listening to it right now." He went down the street and came right back. He was like, "I wanna sign you."
He was able to make a decision that quickly?
Yeah, he was still on the first song.
What is your next project set to drop?
I got a mixtape called, Me, Money and Irene. Irene is like the strongest kind of weed. The album is called Gas Chamber and that will be out in January.
What the theme of that?
We did a single “Death Row.” We saluting the West Coast for that movement right there – and the South and the North, and some West Coast features [featured artists] on there, too.
If you wanted to tell someone who never heard of you who Money Jay is, what do you want fans and new listeners to check out about you?
Really I want them to go online and search me ‘cause I got virals [videos] up. How I live and do everything. I’m not renting cars and I don’t have no gaudy ice. It’s real. It’s how I’m livin’ everyday. We got virals of my real house where I still live, where I grew up. We got virals of me and Akon hanging out at all the radio stations. I just want them to check out what I’m doing, and get to know me and love me. See the grind from the bottom to the top.
Check out Money Jay on: www.moneyjay.com