Born Mike Rivera and hailing from, the birthplace of Hip Hop, New York City, Mike was raised on the pioneers of hip hop, from Nas to Wu-Tang to Big Pun and Canibus.
Growing up as the youngest of 4 brothers, Mike watched his brothers lip sync some of hip hop’s most classic rhymes and in return at the age of 7 he began to write his own rhymes so he can impress them. Gaining a love and a passion for music, Mike ventured into the underground hip hop scene using the moniker Mike J Gottie.
As Mike J Gottie, he toured the north-east along with Dj Puerto Roc (Canibus Road Dj) and established himself as one of the best up and comers. Through years of touring and recording, Mike took a personal leave from hip hop in 2009, but in the fall of 2012 with a new vision and new identity he came back under the name Jak Skelly and in 2014 he was named lyrical artist of the year.
The Madness has arrived, and NYC emcee Jak Skelly is bringing it. Throughout the month of March, Jak Skelly is delivering an insane amount of tracks, one for everyday in March, to reinforce his diverse talent on the mic. Also to expand the madness, Every Monday throughout the month, Jak Skelly will be collaborating with M.U.S.I.C. Ent. producer Dynamic to release one exclusively produced track. At The end of Jak Madness, on April 1st, Jak Skelly will release the official Jak Madness Mixtape. This will feature not only the 31 tracks but a few surprises along the way.
HipHopLead- What’s good Jak, whats popping your way?
Jak Skelly- I’m living man just making this music and raising my daughter, introducing her to some genuine hip hop.
HipHopLead- No doubt homie. With your stage name being Jak Skelly can you tell us why you chose that?
Jak Skelly- Jak Skelly came from my favorite movie growing up, “Nightmare Before Christmas”. I always felt strong similarities to Jack Skellington. He’s dark, but yet loving. He is a genius and very courageous, I thought It would be cool to bring the dude to life and throw a twist to it while I do hip hop. Kind of how Snoop did with Snoopy.
HipHopLead- Even though you were very young at the time do you have any vivid memories of what classic records you saw your siblings rapping along with that inspired you?
Jak Skelly- “FLOW JOE” was a record that stuck out for a few reasons besides it being a dope record, it was great seeing a Hispanic dude flipping it. It was inspiring. I remembered all the words till this very day. ‘’Sure shot’’ was another one… and “M.E.T.H.O.D.M.A.N”. Meth taught me how to flow period. There was something so special about the 90s man, I was lucky to experience the music first hand.
HipHopLead- How would you compare the difference in the music scenes from the 90’s (which influenced you) to now?
Jak Skelly- The 90s were so much more soulful and about culture, it wasn’t just about money and fashion. The money and fashion were already amongst the craft so they didn’t feel the need to constantly elaborate on it the way they do these days. It was very cool to be about HIP HOP… now you might be considered boring if you’re all about the culture, kind of sad. The thing I’m noticing now is a lot of new acts are coming out with that 90s style.. I’m loving it. You shouldn’t fix what isn’t broken, grow with time but respect what will always be fresh.
HipHopLead- Which moniker would you say reflected the sound of your overall artistry the best?
Jak Skelly- Between Method Man’s flow, Eminem’s word play to my favorite horror movies like Frankenstein and Dracula. The Lost Boys have a lot to do with my sound as well. That fact you can dance to my gritty style comes from watching DMX work.
HipHopLead- So we got to know, 31 songs in 31 days?! You must be going crazy in the lab huh?
Jak Skelly- Hell yea, I been breaking night like a mad man with my Executive Producer Dynamic. I have a song on one of his beats everyone Monday I’m actually doing more than 31 tracks.. I’m choosing 31. It’s fun working with my music team though between Ramames, Dynamic, Dj Puerto Roc and Jay are as my producers there is no room to mess up. Them dudes bring my style out especially Radames. I’m blessed I can not complain one bit.
HipHopLead- What inspired the idea to make a mixtape and release it piece by piece like this?
Jak Skelly- This was my manager Kiko’s idea.. he hit me up saying ‘’you know how basketball has March MADNESS’’, I said “Yea, what’s up?”. He said ‘’How about Jak Madness 31 tracks.’’, I was down from jump. I LOVE WORKING and this was a cool way of letting people see a mix tape being built step by step.
On “Jak Style” you spit, “Ill tell you a tale about this nigga they call a monster/ because they ain’t heard no bars like this since Kiss in Yonkers”. Dope line by the way, so we got to know in your opinion do you think Jadakiss is the top word smith that has come out of NY in the last decade?
Jak Skelly- Jada is def top 5 in hip hop and def one of the top word smith NY PERIOD. I’m a big fan of the LOX!
HipHopLead- How have you felt about the response you have been getting off the releases so far?
Jak Skelly- I’m getting mad love, all the responses are pretty similar. They just think its crazy putting out 31 tracks (laughs).
HipHopLead- Let’s back pedal a bit. You took a break from the game for 3 years. What made you quit for a while?
Jak Skelly- I had a kid at the time and being a family was my only focus, I never stopped rapping. I just didn’t put any material out. I just did it to stay sane.
HipHopLead- What made you return back to the game?
Jak Skelly- Well my family went to shit and I was on my own working a 9-5 paying rent and my car, miserable as fuck. I realized I was only happy working on my craft so I left my job and moved back to Harlem and got in the booth. I haven’t stepped out since.
HipHopLead- We know that lyrics are important to you. Especially after hearing some of your music. Your world play and flow on “Jakmatic” was pretty crazy. Being an East Coast artist and a lyricist, it seems like lately that doesn’t go hand in hand in this current music game. A lot of southern artists have made it known that “lyrics don’t matter”. What makes you want to keep your pen game so sharp, especially in a climate of music where beats and catchy hooks seems to drive the mainstream?
Jak Skelly- I go by a personal rule, ‘’Lyrics first everything else second’’, as long as your lyrics are up to par you can do anything else after. Lets use Jada for example. Dudes lyrics are always on point and he has made damn near every kind of song possible. I make everything from gritty shit, love song’s, story telling to party shit and my lyrics will always be up to par.
HipHopLead- Who were your main influences to get you into music ?
Jak Skelly- Method man, Redman, Slick Rick, Nas, Pac, Pun, Canibus, Eminem and Dmx.. Till this day I dissect their music to understand what makes them so great. I’m still learning from them. They created Jak.
HipHoplead- Have you ever dabbled into production, or do you just focus on emceeing?
Jak Skelly- I’d like to one day learn how to make beat’s, if I do I want to become great at it. I’d like my producer Ramames to teach me.
HipHopLead- One of your tracks caught our ear. I believe it was “NY Presidents”, off your “31 Songs in 31 Days” mixtape. It almost seemed more like a homage to the whole state of NY. Do you feel like NY isn’t getting the love it should as a whole anymore?
Jak Skelly- NY is to hip hop what Africa is to man, for anyone doing hip hop to disrespect NY is blasphemous. Don’t let the knuckle heads in my city make you feel we are all like that.
I’m all about the culture and the culture started here. I consider the whole tri state area one big family if you want to get technical. NY isn’t showed the same love anymore but I’m more concern with New Yorkers showing more love to each other.
HipHopLead- What projects did you drop before this one that really reflect you as an artist?
Jak Skelly- My first mixtape in 05 “Hood Poetry Vol 1.” defined me as the artist I always wanted to be. I was finding myself and it was that mixtape that allowed to feel comfortable speaking truth.
HipHopLead- How did you first link with M.U.S.I.C. Ent.? What is like being apart of their outfit?
Jak Skelly- Dynamic started M.U.S.I.C ENT wih some great dudes. Rah Rah Mateo is his artist and the face of the label, a great talent I might add. I been friends with Dynamic for over 10 years. We always wanted to work together but it had to be something special and here it is. JAK MADNESS!
Here at HipHopLead we like to ask different types of questions out of the norm to give fans a broader idea of the person you are. So with that said … lets get it cracking!
Hiphoplead- Ok being a NY resident, what the hell is going on with the Knicks this year (laughs)?
Jak Skelly- (Luaghs) Holy shit noooooooo clue they win big when they win and lose big when they lose its fuckin depressing but I will die a knicks fan!
HipHopLead- Favorite Food?
Jak Skelly- Oatmeal and cheese burgers alllll day.
HipHopLead- Which borough has the baddest females in NY?
Jak Skelly- Its between the Bronx and Manhattan, might be Manhattan. The heights alone got the best asses on the east coast (laughs)!
HipHopLead- More lyrically gifted .. Big Pun or Nas?
Jak Skelly- This really can go any way (laughs), Nas is my favorite Rapper of all time but Pun might be lyrically nicer.
HipHopLead- Tell us about a hidden talent that you have?
Jak Skelly- I eat pus.. joking (laughs)… umm I draw pretty well since the age 5, anything from portraits to cartoons. I am a pretty good actor as well. I also juggle (laughs)… dead ass I juggle.
HipHopLead- Why is Kanye West, 2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa and A$ap Rocky wearing skirts now?
Jak Skelly- They might be homosexuals, if so I wish they would admit it, gay people are fuckin awesome.
HipHopLead- 50 Cent is prepping his new album, “Animal Ambition”, how do you think it will do?
Jak Skelly- 50 is the man, last gangster rapper in the business, he deserves respect. I think he will do well, but not good enough. This soft ass generation don’t support street shit. I’m copping it though
Back to the norm …
HipHopLead- What new projects do you have coming out after this mixtape in April?
Jak Skelly- Sex tape (laughs).. joking again. I have never ending singles and video’s through the year. I hope to release my EP, “Respect The Mecca”, before the years end.
HipHopLead- Any features worth mentioning?
Jak Skelly- As far as Jak Madness I have my niggas on it, some great talent!! Rah Rah Mateo, Jam Young, Jsin, Focus, Cesar Padrino, Dynamic, Charlie Merks em and Jus one. There might be others as the month ends.
HipHopLead- It was great chopping it up with you homie. With that said .. the floor is yours .. give us any shout outs, links .. get ya plug on (laughs). It’s go time ..
Jak Skelly- (laughs)..shout out to the whole M.U.S.I.C ENT family, Jam Young, KOS, Higher Limits clothing, Js1n.com, jakskellymusic.com, kiko my manger, 12am productions, Radames, Dj Puerto Roc, Jay Are and Sky Lab ent!! Shout outs to all the real hip hop heads in the world!!!! Respect The Mecca!!!!!