BY JORDAN STRICKER
It’s April and its -8 degrees Celsius. The setting is Philosafy Coffee on 17th avenue. The door swings open as a breeze flows in behind the coldest rapper that Calgary has produced to date. Jae Sterling and his manager sit across Fireside founder Jared Clark and I. His presence is felt the second he takes a seat. A man on a mission with a message Hip-Hop fans across all walks of life have been waiting for.
He is important for our city and the Fireside movement because he represents what the game has been missing: authenticity, intelligent bars and the knowledge to draw out the blue print to be on the same plane as his influences.
“I tell myself to stay humble and enjoy the come up,” said the 27-year-old Bull Bay, Jamaica native.
From humble beginnings in Jamaica, Sterling came up with the best intentions but the street life was too accessible for a young kid running amuck.
“My parents did their best to keep me sheltered. Eventually you get to 15-years-old and you make friends. These friends they don’t stay at home; they want to hang out.”
Making his way to Calgary in 2009, Sterling was ready for a change. His Parents decided to relocate to keep him out of trouble.
“At the time I was in so much shit I was ready to leave.”
Music was always an important factor, growing up on R&B, the only Hip-Hop allowed in the house was Lauryn Hill.
Finding his style after the boom of gangster rap in the early 2000s, 50 Cent and G-Unit served as a wakeup call to the new heights Hip-Hop could be taken.
“I was like what? You can rap about this shit? I can get girls with this shit? that’s when I started rapping about the life I was living as raw as possible” Sterling explains.
The grittiness in Sterling’s rap style is undeniable. Bringing forth the hard-core lyricism that was prolific in the 90s, but keeping a modern style is what separates him from the SoundCloud generation we have become all too familiar with.
Taking time off in 2014 to focus more on his visual art, Hiatus shows that the time off was necessary for his growth and an important season finding inspiration from everything around him. Comparing some of his older music to what he has dropped with Hiatus, the progress is scary. Bars so gritty and rugged delivered with a vocal tone that can’t be ignored.
There is no denying that Jae Sterling is an MC everyone should have on their radar for rising stars. Especially in Calgary. There is a hunger that is apparent the second you speak to him about Hip-Hop and his vision for the future.
“This is probably the hardest place to kick something off and that makes me hungry. That makes me want to put the city on my back. I’ll take that responsibility because I know I can back it up.”
The process is something Sterling holds close with a mentality that it is for him alone, sharing few details. All we can be sure of is that if Hiatus is the measure for what is coming from the Calgary MC, the rest of the rap game is in for a world of hurt.
“If it is what I think it is I don’t want to rush it; I don’t want to put the wrong stuff out there. This is going to be history. I am trying to enjoy that process.”
Jae’s latest single titled “The Motive” dropped early on April 13th. As a follow up to “Hiatus”, “The Motive” gives us more of Sterling’s incredible rap style over a suitable beat that delivers once again. *Out now on all streaming platforms.