Build­ing a rep­u­ta­tion

For­mer Carbonear res­i­dent Jeremy How­ell gain­ing fame on Cana­dian mu­sic scene

The Compass - - News - BY CHRIS LEWIS ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­

Jeremy How­ell works night shifts as a power en­gi­neer, but spends his down time build­ing his ca­reer as a rap­per.

How­ell grew up in the Carbonear area. He says through­out his younger life, he’d never re­ally thought to pur­sue mu­sic like the rest of his fam­ily did.

Grow­ing up, How­ell was more into sports. When it came time for him to pur­sue fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion, How­ell stud­ied petroleum en­gi­neer­ing tech­nol­ogy at Col­lege of the North At­lantic, and now works night shifts as a power en­gi­neer in Al­berta.

Some­where in be­tween that, when he was around the age of 15, How­ell told The Compass he be­gan tak­ing an in­ter­est in rap mu­sic, and would freestyle with his friends at par­ties. Even still, it wasn’t some­thing How­ell con­sid­ered pur­su­ing at the time.

Now, it’s been a year since How­ell, who goes by Jyay, be­gan pur­su­ing rap mu­sic, and he says it’s been an ex­cit­ing ride so far.

How­ell said he’s al­ways had an in­ter­est in rap mu­sic, not­ing artists like Eminem, Clas­si­fied, and Jay Z as some of his favourites. Last year, How­ell de­cided to pick up the mi­cro­phone him­self. Dur­ing a plane ride home, How­ell says he couldn’t put the pen down as he be­gan writ­ing his own raps.

“It all felt re­ally nat­u­ral, like I wasn’t forc­ing my­self to do it. I loved writ­ing those songs, and I don’t think I slept at all dur­ing that plane ride. I just kept writ­ing.,” said How­ell.

De­spite only start­ing his rap ca­reer in early 2016, How­ell has made a name for him­self in both the pro­vin­cial and Cana­dian rap scenes. The first ma­jor move How­ell made as a mu­si­cian was dur­ing the dev­as­tat­ing wild­fire that rav­aged Fort McMur­ray in May of 2016.

How­ell paired with fel­low mu­si­cian Vicki Doyle, and the two wrote and recorded their song ti­tled United We Stand, a ded­i­ca­tion to those who suf­fered dur­ing the fire. As of right now, the song is near­ing 30,000 views on YouTube, and How­ell and Doyle do­nated all pro­ceeds from iTunes to the United Way, a vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tion that helped raise money dur­ing the tragic fire.

“I think ev­ery­one across Canada was hit by that fire in one way or an­other,” said How­ell, “and that was my way of giv­ing back, which is some­thing I aim to do not only as an artist, but as a per­son.”

Doyle also made an ap­pear­ance on How­ell’s five-song ex­tended play ti­tled Pro­gres­sion, a col­lab­o­ra­tion project be­tween him and fel­low New­found­land artist OG Simp­son. The duo went on a pro­vin­cial tour early in May to pro­mote the EP.

On top of all this, How­ell says that one of the big­gest mo­ments in his year-long ca­reer as a rap­per comes from his work with Mu­sicNL.

“I think the most mem­o­rable mo­ment of it all so far is when Mu­sicNL ac­cepted the pro­posal I wrote for them,” ex­plained How­ell. “Now, for the first time in history, Mu­sicNL has a hip hop/rap cat­e­gory for their an­nual awards con­fer­ence. That’s amaz­ing news for any­one in the prov­ince look­ing to come up in the rap scene – it shows that not only is the scene grow­ing and get­ting big­ger in New­found­land, but it shows mu­si­cians and artists are will­ing to work with rap­pers, which might not have been the case how­ever many years ago.”

How­ell said de­spite New­found­land’s deep roots and cul­ture re­gard­ing folk mu­sic, there is an un­der­ground move­ment of rap­pers that can fi­nally work with each other through Mu­sic NL’s new rap work­shops, while meet­ing and in­ter­act­ing with other peo­ple in the mu­sic in­dus­try. How­ell says these op­por­tu­ni­ties will be game-chang­ing for rap­pers in New­found­land, if used prop­erly.

De­spite How­ell’s suc­cess over the past year, he said it hasn’t been a walk in the park.

How­ell works night shifts, leav­ing lit­tle time dur­ing the day for him to put in the work he feels is nec­es­sary to fur­ther his ca­reer in mu­sic.

“It’s more than just mu­sic at the end of the day. It’s a busi­ness, and you need to have a busi­ness mind­set, which I think some peo­ple tend to for­get,” said How­ell. “Writ­ing and record­ing mu­sic might be, maybe 10 per cent of the work. You’ve got to be net­work­ing, get­ting your name out there, mak­ing sure you have a pres­ence on­line where the ma­jor­ity of mu­si­cians look nowa­days. It can be re­ally tir­ing some­times, go­ing from my full­time job as a power en­gi­neer, to ba­si­cally run­ning this busi­ness as a mu­si­cian as well. You have to fit some sleep in there some­where, too.”

How­ell said he’d love to pur­sue rap as a full-time ca­reer, and is slowly work­ing his way to­wards do­ing that. He said he looks up to fel­low Cana­dian rap­pers like Drake, Clas­si­fied, and Merkules, who have all man­aged turn their mu­sic into a ca­reer.

How­ell may have an ex­cit­ing sum­mer in the works as well, as he might have the op­por­tu­nity to join the eastern leg of Merkules’ up­com­ing na­tional tour, although noth­ing has been set in stone just yet.

How­ell’s mu­sic can be found on Spo­tify, iTunes, and YouTube by search­ing Jyay.

“It’s a grind, you know. Some days are re­ally stress­ful, but then there are days where you’re happy you de­cided to pur­sue your dream. It’s like any­thing, I guess, and I’d love to see this take off and be­come some­thing re­ally big. That’s the goal, at the end of the day,” said How­ell.

“It’s more than just mu­sic at the end of the day. It’s a busi­ness, and you need to have a busi­ness mind­set.” Jeremy How­ell (Jyay)


Jeremy How­ell, for­merly of Carbonear, has been mak­ing waves in the Cana­dian rap game over the past year.

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