Mister Jahi recounts the time he spent rapping in Cleveland


A Cleveland native who now lives in Oakland, MC Jahi just recently published Things I’ve Seen: A Decade of Hip-hop, Education and Life, a memoir about his hip-hop 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 his intro to the book, Public Enemy’s Chuck D calls Jahi “a master teacher of the hip-hop and rap music craft.” We recently sat down to talk to Jahi, who came into town to attend his son’s high school graduation. The book is currently available through Jahi’s website and other online retailers, but it will also be reissued later this year with photos and an accompanying DVD.

When did you start thinking about a book and what kind of challenges did writing an autobiography present?
Originally, I was writing journals about everything that happened. At a ten-year point, I looked back. I had been going and going and going. In 2006, I came back to the United States after I had gotten my deal in Europe and lived in Copenhagen. I wanted to be closer to my kids and initially, I was going to write my autobiography but my uncle said I hadn’t lived long enough for that. But I wanted to write a memoir. I gave it a go and realized it was not like writing an album. I don’t know a lot of independent artists who started in Cleveland and then put out records and toured internationally and nationally. The book is a reflection of a ten year span that encompasses some incredible experiences. I’m a black kid from East Cleveland, Ohio and I was never supposed to leave Cleveland.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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