After his recent chart-topping success, you’ve most likely heard the name JayQ The Legend uttered a few times by now. With his uplifting singles ‘Body Talk’ and ‘Amazing Girl’ covering relationships and paying homage to womenkind, it’s shocking to hear about the trauma the hip-hop artist has experienced and carried with him throughout his life. Recently sharing his story with the public, JayQ The Legend explains that writing music was the only escape from his cruel reality whilst living with his mother and his abusive stepfather.
“Songs were a place for me to escape. Hiding in my room and getting lost in a verse was my safe place. I would write and write songs, hoping not to be found.”
Explaining that his father lived with his extended family in the British Virgin Islands far from his home of St. Croix, there was truly no physical escape for him, meaning song writing played a crucial role in creating his only sanctuary. Addressing the impact his stepfather had on him, JayQ The Legend openly discusses how trauma has affected him.
“The trauma physical abuse leaves on a child is unforgiveable. When a man is violent to his family, he passes down a legacy of insecurity and anger. How does one enter manhood and climb out of this?”
Soon after the hip-hop artist had the opportunity to leave the villainous clutches of his stepfather, his own father was devastatingly murdered, leaving him grief-stricken and broken.
“My world started spinning. I tried college but couldn’t focus. I was flunking out. It was too much, home was still not safe, and college was not far enough away from my mother’s voice on the phone sharing her pain”
After experiencing enough hardship to defeat anyone, JayQ The Legend was unsurprisingly crushed. However, he had a fighting will within him to overcome his past and claim the future as his own.
“always inside me was that will, the will to survive and be successful… to overcome my history. It took so much energy and fight, but I was determined to beat the odds. I decided I had to learn to fight, so I signed up on the college campus to become a military solider.”
Defeating the odds of his traumatic past, he proceeded to become a platoon leader in his marine training on top of receiving a college degree, an MBA and a JD. Eventually, his stepfather finally passed away, but the mental scars he left on JayQ The Legend were still raw.
“I still had to fix what he broke inside me – I was lucky to have my creative gifts to escape with during my darkest moments, because I am not sure I would have had been able to overcome the years of trauma otherwise.”
After growing into a strong and educated adult, the grip of abuse had still not vanished from his life. The evil of systemic and institutionalised racism became more and more apparent throughout his professional career in the American South.
“It was awful to be held to a different standard than the privileged, less qualified and competent than me. Black men had to be better than everyone to be seen. That is another story, not a pretty picture of living in America. The United States of America is currently struggling to uncover the truth and impact of racism and move forward with enlightenment and compassion”
Through facing the corrupt system institutionalising racism throughout his career, JayQ The Legend again turned to music as an escape.
“As I became more focused as an artist, I was fascinated with the power of good relationships. Most of my songs are about the passion and power balance in healthy relationships between men and women. A beautiful, mutually positive relationship is a dream worth writing and singing about to me.”
After finding his calling and throwing himself further into his music, JayQ The Legend was struck by something Tyler Perry had said in an interview with Oprah after discussing his similar experience with childhood abuse.
“Tyler Perry said you have to decide you did not deserve the abuse to start letting go of the anger. I was afraid I would become like the man that abused me and my mother. It was mind-blowing to learn that someone who has actually inspired you, dealt with similar challenges in life. Like Tyler Perry, for me, freedom is in forgiveness.”
After overcoming his horrific childhood experiences, JayQ The Legend’s songs are a reflection of his infectious outlook towards life: they’re positive, thought-provoking, up-beat and just all-round fun. After sharing his story, JayQ The Legend humbly advises people to empower themselves by using their gifts within.
“My advice is to empower yourself by discovering who you are. Build that part of yourself. Recognize and use your gift.”
JayQ The Legend’s latest hit ‘Amazing Girl’ is out on all streaming platforms now and is an ode women everywhere: “It is time we celebrate and respect women and show them how truly amazing they are!” (JayQ The Legend)
Listen to ‘Amazing Girl’ below.