Coming from the unforgiving streets of Compton, up-and-coming rapper Jehkai uses his adversity as direct ammunition for his sound.
From living in the projects to sleeping in the parking lot of a hospital to being kicked out of his home during his teenage years, the young Compton crooner strives to not only console his listeners but to motivate and uplift the minds of those who may be able to relate.
Aptly dubbed “The Pain Preacher,” the 19-year rap singer specializes in painting candid, yet sublime portraits of trauma and triumph with his music.
“I’m really trying to give you a look inside of what this generation’s youth go through in Compton,” he explains. “Compton is home, but it’s automatically what I don’t want to see in my head. I love my hometown and I’m going to give back to it. It’s a tough community though, so I’m preaching pain and what goes on in Compton.”
By mixing emotion-driven, melodic hooks with hopeful lyricism and reflective anecdotes, the young newcomer is forging his own lane in today’s sprawling league of emo trap.
In 2020, he established his presence with the release of two emotive trap cuts: “The Field” and “Glory To God,” the second of which features Chicago native and fellow trap rapper Lil’ Durk on the remix.
After developing a wider following, he was offered a deal with Atlantic Records during Quarantine.
Since then, Jehkai has maintained his momentum by dropping a series of introspective trap tracks on a weekly basis via Soundcloud, some of which include “Trenches,” “Steal Me,” “Life Goes On” and more. He has earned over 1.5 million streams combined.
In 2021, the Compton prodigy is proving that he is locked in and focused on elevation. In June, he dropped his label debut single: “Frostbite (Feat. Bankroll Freddie),” which has already amassed over 212 thousand views on YouTube along with a poignant follow-up single in early July: “This Ain’t The Life.”
Almost needless to say, he is on fire with zero signs of slowing down.
Fortunately enough, The Knockturnal was able to chat with Jehkai about his journey, his biggest inspirations, some of the best advice he’s been given in this game so far, and more.
Here is how the conversation played out:
The Knockturnal: When you think about Compton, so many hip-hop greats come to mind. Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, The Game, Kendrick Lamar, Roddy Ricch. What does being from Compton mean to you and how has it shaped your music?
Jehkai: Being from Compton is like being from another country. We are looked at differently by others for our politics and violence. I just want to bring peace to the city and make a name for myself like the others before me.
The Knockturnal: Who are your top 3 musical inspirations and how would you say they’ve influenced your sound?
Jehkai: Michael Jackson, 2pac, and Drake are my 3 music influences because of their willingness to just be themselves and their all-out love for the music in general
The Knockturnal: After overcoming tremendous pain and adversity during your early years, how important was it to channel that pain into your creative process?
Jehkai: Very important- I feel my fans want to see that part of me. They relate to my pain and what I’ve been through and that’s the goal of my music- for people to relate
The Knockturnal: As appropriate as it is, where does your alias “The Pain Preacher” stem originate from? Who and/or what inspired it?
Jehkai: I was 17 going through a lot and music was my way of coping with the pain. So I felt I can preach it and that’s where it came from after I wrote “Glory To God”
The Knockturnal: What was the motivation behind the concept of your latest single: “Frostbite” and how’d you team up with Bankroll Freddie?
Jehkai: Freddie had posted himself playing and singing “Glory To God” without tagging me that’s how I knew it was genuine, so I reached out and he said send him something. I sent “Frostbite” and the rest was history
The Knockturnal: Since you’ve been in the industry so far, what is some of the best advice you’ve received, and from who?
Jehkai: The hardest worker bears the most talent- that’s something my manager has told me from day one.
The Knockturnal: How was it getting signed during a global pandemic?
Jehkai: Crazy- I had so many flights and meetings through the pandemic but it shows how much they wanted to mess with me and my music
The Knockturnal: Now that things are opening back up and society is returning to some form of normalcy, what’s next for Jehkai?
Jehkai: I plan on dropping my project and getting on the road to do press runs and shows. God willing the lockdown doesn’t happen again as the virus rises.
To keep up with Jehkai, follow him on Instagram.