Santa Ana Rapper Jay Taj Rhymes About West Side Realness
Jay Taj going in.
"What the fuck they know about the kid from the west side of the river bed?" says SanTana's Jay Taj on "Never Die" a track off of his latest project named Tenfour which sounds like Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, M.A.A.D City if it took place in
For 25-year-old, Jay Taj—whose real name is Gerard Tajalle Jr., music has been an escape from growing up in Westside
In his eleven years of rhyme spitting, no project has felt as cohesive and accumulative to Taj as TenFour has. Released on October 4th of this year, Taj says the album's release is meaningful because of a dramatic incident that happened last year on October 4th. "I got into a little bit of trouble involving somebody in my life, I made some poor decisions." Tenfour's first track, "The One Who
Tenfour is also a play on coded police chatter, and self-acknowledgment. "Obviously across the
Another song that tackles controversial issues, particularly in Santa Ana, is "Devil's Home" which starts with a news clip of a young boy talking about how he lost his cousin to a drive-by shooting in 2015 on Harmon Street—one of
As with any OC rapper who's ever tried branching out beyond the county, Taj expresses how
Jay Taj is SanTana's hood poet.
Courtesy of Jay Taj
Aside from rapping, Taj also devotes his time to teaching music, video and photography production to the kids of the Boys & Girls Club of Garden Grove. The H.O.P.E (Hope and Opportunity through Performance and Entertainment) program gives B&G Club kids the opportunity to record in a professional studio for free with Taj's guidance.
"We've had kids produce full projects and full albums, these kids are in high school and it's incredible music." Taj says providing encouragement for children's artistic visions is vital because he knows what's it's like to grow up lacking support for his artistry, "Being a rapper was some far fetched shit. My momma was always on some, 'Oh that's cool but what's your real plan?" Now, Taj wants to encourage children to pursue their dreams rather than abandon them. "If one of my kids wants to record a project, then I'll say, 'Hey find someone who wants to learn how to engineer," he says, "And they'll come in and they'll record you and I'll sit there for every session and I'll teach them how to record. Now when you graduate high school, you're an artist and you have your own engineer and both of you are in a position to make real money in a way all of our parents thought we couldn't do in entertainment."
Taj's radio show called "1st and the 15th"
While Taj stays busy creatively, his devotion to giving back to his community is also one of his top priorities, "Everybody knows this city [SanTana] means everything to me." Taj says as he starts to discuss a better OC. "Within the county, I just wish people would stop faking the funk and stop acting like we're better than we are." Instead, Taj says we need to love our neighbors now more than ever, "The only thing we were born with in this life is love that's the only thing we knew from the jump...and the only thing we have left is love, just love," he says, "I think that's something that always has to be remembered. This music shit is not what I do it for I do it to inspire love."
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