The phrase “stuck in a groove” has taken a considerably negative connotation in recent years. Ads on TV asking if you feel stuck in your day to day life, pictures and posts splayed across social medias promising a quick come-up becoming an expert in this or that, people asking if you are truly happy with your life. And while the case is certainly there for the downside of grooves, without grooves there are no records. And without records there is no hip-hop, because, well, how would the break even been discovered? That beautiful open period of a song that could be looped back and forth forever, creating an open space for MC’s to speak on? The thing is, without the grooves, that space cannot exist. And if those grooves aren’t perfectly put in place, cut in properly, the record cannot play. If there is one thing that can be said about Jamiyl “Hellz Yea!” Adams, it is that he has not only found his groove, but mastered it. His groove runs deep, from the infinitely diverse streets of Brooklyn where he grew up, to the building full of studios he now operates out of in Atlanta. As the self-labeled leader of the adult contemporary hip-hop movement, Hellz Yea! is taking it upon himself to begin bridging the gaps between hip-hop generations, a task that seems to get larger every year. Don’t get it twisted though, Jamiyl has much more than a single track in his repertoire, with producer, MC, founder and CEO of OneDynasty Entertainment, movie buff, and semi-pro pool player rounding out the Hellz Yea! LP.
Hellz Yea! is as Brooklyn as they come, having lived there for forty-one years before he moved to Atlanta three years ago. It allowed him to take that next step and grow as a person, because it can be difficult to grow when you are surrounded by the same thing every day, regardless of how full of life that one place can be. Having these multiple talents has allowed Hellz to flourish as a businessman in Atlanta as well, where he operates OneDynasty Entertainment. (why do I not have the exact reasoning behind the name, get that in here). Currently, OneDynasty operates two recording studios, an event space, and a spot to take all the artists upcoming Instashots. “The goal was to create a one-stop-shop,”, Hellz elaborated, “Most companies do nothing except send your music out, I wanted to make artists feel like artists again,”, when asked about his motivation for creating the all-inclusive set-up he has going. This all-inclusive experience is one that Jamiyl felt had been missing from the current hip-hop landscape. A place where artists could show up, put in work in the studio with a world-class engineer able to deliver a fully-formed song, get their fans out with a live event space, and even get a massage while their song gets mixed and mastered. In his eyes, having to go to numerous locations or individuals to get the basic work done takes away the artists’ ability to clear their mind and elevate their work to the next level.
Staying true to Jamiyl’s roots and always looking out for those coming up after him is something that is incredibly important to him. It is also a place where he feels perhaps most able to make a difference, as a certified old head he has been around long enough to see a few pages get turned within his lifetime. He has seen it go from an underground phenomenon, from the corners to stages, to being the top music genre on the globe with its influence present in most everything nowadays. He has also been around long enough to see the generational divides that fracture the hip-hop fan base become gulches between them which aren’t often crossed. It has been said that hip-hop is currently in a mid-life crisis, and as Hellz Yea! sees it, “Someone has to emerge, who is really good at what they do, and I know I’m that person who can bridge the gap between the old and the young without trying to be young.” The assured confidence Hellz brings to the table allows him to not become susceptible to hopping on the younger generations trends, a mistake many older artists will make especially if they are trying to get back on the charts. It is his goal as well that by working with younger artists, his demeanor will rub off on them, showing them that if they stay true to themselves and keep on pushing, they can get to wherever they want.
During the hour and a half long conversation he continually circled back to the idea of energy within the universe and how powerful energy can be. It was energy that first drew him to hip-hop, an unexplained feeling that he felt deep inside when he heard the beat on “Sucka Mcs” drop for the first time when he was 9 or 10 years old. It flipped a switch on which has never been turned off, an explosion of youthful energy and exuberance. That rush, as he explained, “I didn’t really understand it when I was younger, but I realized later that it was the freedom to say what you wanted and how you wanted, “, and whenever he feels himself losing connection to that fire, Hellz Yea! goes back and cranks up “Sucka MCs”. Jamiyl’s ability to stay in touch with that inner child-like enthusiasm for music may be one of the reasons that he can connect with the younger artists. He doesn’t try to fit in with any of the trends or waves, instead he focuses on creating at his highest level and allowing the energy of the track to speak to his collaborators. This focus on maintaining his even, high level energy has allowed Hellz Yea! to collaborate with international rappers. Music is an international language, when the artist remains true to themselves. America’s intense grip on the rap game means that many international artists would rather create in English rather than their native language. Unfortunately, this tends to diminish the emotional impact of the lyrics. A perfect example of this scenario was a story Hellz told me about working with a French artist he was working with who was insistent on rapping in English. By pushing the artist to record it in French, Hellz was able to unlock a new level of emotionality within the music.
The desire to be seen as real and authentic has been a defining characteristic trait of hip-hop throughout its life. Hip-hop has always been a space where people go to air out beefs, talk their shit, and put on for their home turf. Talking shit and stunting on one another are both deeply ingrained within hip-hop, and when social media took a stranglehold on society it was only natural that these behaviors proliferated. But as Hellz Yea! was quick to remind, it doesn’t matter how good you look or how many followers you have, an artist has no future if they are unable to ignore the looming influences and focus on being themselves as much as possible. Stepping away from the constant stream of social media and its insidious influences is an incredibly challenging task, but one that can have immensely positive impacts on artists especially up and coming ones. As Hellz Yea! continues his journey, as a determined Sherpa to cross the bridge between generations, his rock-solid sense of self and positive energy hopefully will be a light to others on their journey. And if they follow that light, they will end up at the OneDynasty studios to find Hellz Yea! posted, doing what he loves to do.