There is a perception that rappers must fit into a certain stereotype in order to be successful. However, Alabama rapper, Jabo decided to get an education before tackling rap full time.
In 2014, Jabo teamed up with rappers Jadakiss and Slim Thug and released the video and single “What I’m About.” The single continues to gain traction throughout the south and has introduced Jabo to a new audience.
He recently sat down with rolling out to discuss his rise to stardom and why he chose college over rap.
There aren’t many Alabama rappers who have made it on a national level. What was it like searching for recognition as a rapper?
Being raised in Birmingham, Ala., and being influenced by the city, it was cool. We had all aspects in my neighborhood. We had your drug dealers, your killers, but also good people. I came up in a very old community where everyone looked out for one another. I think the Civil Rights movement brought us closer together as a community. You can hear it in the music because it’s very soulful. When it came to rap, we were influenced by Atlanta, New Orleans and Memphis, Tenn., because we didn’t have our own sound or one standout artist. We looked at these surrounding states as our cousins.
You could have pursued a career in rap as a teenager. Why did you decide to finish college first?
My decision to go back to school and get an education stems from my mom, who passed from lupus when I was 13. She always told me about the importance of having an education. When she passed, I could have done a lot of different things, but I stayed focused and on the right track for her. It’s also hard to be successful out here without a good education. If I made it through 12 years of high school, what’s another four years in college? It’s not that bad. Once you start rapping full time, you will realize how fast the time goes by then. You might as well go to school and get an education to have something to fall back on.
How did the collaboration with Jadakiss and Slim Thug come about?
I came up listening to Jadakiss and Slim Thug. They are legends in the game. Once the radio got a hold to it and the video got on to MTV and BET, it just changed my whole career. I use to go to the store and people wouldn’t even recognize me. Now, I can’t even go to the store at the end of my street anymore because so many people recognize me. But it’s cool having fans and having people who respect what you do. It’s cool when people want your signature or just want to take a picture with you. I don’t turn down any fans. Whatever they want me to do, I’ll do it.