A Cleveland native who now lives in Oakland, Jahi has become a successful rapper and author ever since relocating to the West Coast. A couple of years ago, he published Things I’ve Seen: A Decade of Hip-hop, Education and Life
, a memoir about his career.
The book starts with his recollection of writing rhymes as a kid while growing up in East Cleveland and continues through his experiences performing on MTV and BET and touring Europe. In the intro to the book, Public Enemy’s Chuck D calls Jahi “a master teacher of the hip-hop and rap music craft.”
Chuck D is even featured on Jahi's Nation Builder
, an album that features production by Easy Mo Bee, DJ Pain 1 and DJ Johnny Juice from Public Enemy.
It's been a long, strange trip for Jahi. In the early '80s, he was rapping on street corners in East Cleveland and engaging in breakfast battles at Shaw High School. When he graduated from high school, he was supposed to get a wrestling scholarship to Eastern Michigan, but he reinjured his shoulder and moved to Jamaica. That’s when what he refers to as his “spiritual and religious consciousness” started happening.
After moving back to Northeast Ohio, he began working with the AIDS Task Force, where he used hip-hop videos to teach teenagers about sex. He's used hip-hop as an educational tool ever since.
Jahi returns to town next week to open for the hip-hop act Arrested Development. The show takes place at 8p.m. on Friday, June 29, at House of Blues
“This tour is for the everyday people, front line workers, music for the healers, and the folks who are looking for good Hip Hop for the soul,” says Jahi in a press release announcing the gig.