Stanford University, India and the Upper East Side of New York City don't usually bring to mind hip-hop. Jay Kila is here to change that. A native of the Upper East Side in New York City, Kila is Half-Indian and Jewish (a Hindjew). His rapid-fire delivery and intellectual lyrics present portraits of city life as well as Kila’s struggle to find his place in society. He has opened for Wu-Tang Clan and Digable Planets– performing around NYC.
Kila was always a hip-hop head as an adolescent, though it was not until after college that he began taking the possibility of doing music seriously. While in school, Kila would shoot music videos for artists on campus as well as create his own viral videos. “A lot of the virals we ended up making would be comedic hip-hop songs. And after a while I realized I liked the music side more than the video side.”
Kila moved back home after graduating from Stanford University in 2009, turning down the allure of Wall Street to pursue his dream of being a hip-hop artist. He completed his debut mixtape The Internship while simultaneously co-founding GiftRapped – a service that makes personalized songs and music videos as gifts for special occasions. “My first mixtape was called The Internship because at the time I was looking at rap like a job and usually when you try to get a job you have to intern at the place you want to work. So this was just me trying to show people that I could rap.” He would go on to record The Internship as well as an additional mixtape - Upper East Beast, performing shows locally in New York.
It was Upper East Beast that caught the ear of hip-hop pioneer Daddy-O from the legendary rap group Stetsasonic. For the past year Kila has been part of Daddy-O’s artist development program: perfecting his live show as well as completing 50 Shades of Jay. “The concept for this project was to take popular indie and pop songs and do rap covers over them. It ended up being extremely personal, describing events and issues in my life which I had never really shared with anyone before.” This was Kila’s third mixtape, building on the success of Upper East Beast and The Internship.