Student Spotlight: Musician and Rapper Jayonna Allen

Zaynab Rehman

When Jayonna Allen was seven years old, she started getting bullied in school.

“They bullied me because I was overweight and I tried to fit in. Even my so called friends during that time bullied me.”

Jayonna experienced this bullying for years before finally finding an outlet to express her emotions: rapping.

“[When] I started rapping at lunch and in front of my teachers, that’s when the same people who [were] bullying wanted to be friends with me,” she recalls.

Rapping has since played an integral role in Jayonna’s life. She has her own rap name—Jay Too Raw, aka JTR—and is currently working on releasing an EP. I sat down with her to discuss her music-making process and career.

Do you both write songs and make the music for them (as in play the instruments)?

Jayonna: Yes, I do both. I’m now learning how to produce my own beats and it’s very exciting.

What got you interested in songwriting? 

J: I always loved writing and using my imagination. I [have] always wanted to know how rappers do what they do. My older brother, who also raps, showed me different ways of writing music.

How old were you when you wrote your first song?

J: I was 11 years old when I wrote my first song. It was called “Comin Thru.” All I had was earbuds and my phone to record. I uploaded it to Soundcloud and didn’t think [anyone] would listen to it. A year or two later, my peers from school found it. [To] this day I still use earbuds and my phone to record.

What kind of things inspire you to write songs? What is your biggest source of inspiration?

J: When I write, I think about rappers I listen to now. The way their words flow with theirs beats.  My biggest source of inspiration is the people who support me with my talent…such as teachers, family members, and friends.

What kind of music do you currently listen to? Who are some of your favorite artists?

J: I currently listen to Hip-Hop (old and new school), R&B (old and new school), AfroMusic, and Pop. My Top 5 artists are J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, and The Isley Brothers.

To hear a sample of Jayonna’s work, click below!