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Youngstown, Ohio, United States | SELF

Youngstown, Ohio, United States | SELF
Solo Hip Hop Pop




"It's More Than Just Music for Jay Mel"

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of regional MCs gone national such as Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa and Machine Gun Kelly is Youngstown rapper Jason “Jay Mel” Melidona, who admittedly has undergone quite an education over the past few years.

Currently a student of the game, Melidona used his infectious hooks and catchy rhymes to come out of obscurity in 2010 and win 101.9 WRBP-FM Jamz’s “Best Local Rapper” contest.

The nod led the 2002 Howland High School graduate to the Big Apple, where he met with Island Def Jam higher ups. However, the big break to become the next overnight sensation didn’t come his way. What did was an eye-opening experience that today fuels his dream to become the next Northeast Ohio rapper to go mainstream.

“Before Jamz, I really had no direction with anything,” said Melidona, who has a day gig working for the Geek Squad at Best Buy. “I was under the notion at the time that you can create the best music ever and because you’re capable of creating the best music ever, you could go into somewhere and get signed off of those tracks that you recorded. I now look back and think if I had any insight into life, I would have known that was completely untrue.”

What Melidona learned was the hip-hop world is filled with talented artists. What makes the difference is the promotional and marketing game, which includes presence in the local music scene as well as on the Internet.

“The Jamz thing was the first really outward appearance of what people saw of me,” Melidona said. “That was the kind of a boost and wake-up like, ‘You have to get out there and can’t be sitting in the house and recording music and not letting people hear it.’ It’s seeing your face and handing them CDs personally and being a presence.”

Since then, Melidona released his first mix tape, “Who Is Jay Mel?” and began booking local shows, including opening for B.o.B and other national acts. While he released singles such as “In and Out,” “You Know,” “All I Need,” “I’m Good,” and his latest, “Live It Up,” the next big project is his debut full-length effort, which is due out this summer.

Compared to the likes of Drake and LL Cool J, Melidona said the upcoming CD features a variety of styles, including club joints, R&B hooks and even rock tunes.

“I have a lot of music just about the struggle,” Melidona said. “I’ve been doing this for a while, and things are starting to fall into place for me. I work a full-time job, I raise a son and I’m trying to make music my dream. So it’s just the daily struggle of life.”

Melidona’s next hometown show takes place at a pre-St. Patrick’s Day event booked for Saturday at O’Donold’s in Austintown. While playing a green-beer and shamrock-heavy type of gig doesn’t seem hip-hop, Mel said he’s got a surprise.

“I got my little kilt on, and I go hard,” Melidona said.

When it’s pointed out that oftentimes men don’t wear anything under the kilts, Melidona said, laughing, “Oh, I’ve got mine. I usually have my little leopard thing on.” - The Vindicator by John Benson

"A Blind Date by B. David Zarley"

NYC’s Urban Entertainment Magazine “Parlè” presents to you an interview conducted with Jason “Jay Mel” Melidona on the 8th of March. Here’s the full article:

Parlé Magazine: First things first man, what’s up? What are you up to right now?
Jay Mel: I am heading up to Pittsburgh. Got a show for one of my boys who did a lot of promotion out in Pittsburgh, so I’m heading out there tonight. Making new music, doing shows, doing shows. I’m from Youngstown Ohio, so I’m pretty glad to be over here. Trying to make it … making music.

Parlé: I haven’t gotten a chance to listen to you yet because my internet is all fucked up. But that gives us an interesting opportunity: can you tell me what you think I’m going to hear–or what you want me to hear–when I can finally listen to your stuff?
Jay Mel: Well the new stuff … I mean, really, with all the music, it’s all something different. I go from Hip-Hop to Pop music, and it’s really just what mood I’m in–writing the music–to decide what I’m going to do with each song. What you’re going to hear is mostly lyrics. I started out battle rapping, so that has always just kind of been by my side. But the Hip-Hop base is what it all revolves around, and it just kind of branches off from there. But you know, there’s fun stuff, serious stuff, depending on what mood I’m in when I’m writing music.

Parlé: Alright. You said you’re from Youngstown, I’m actually from Columbus. Can you just tell me a little bit about Ohio? Does being from a place like Youngstown influence the music?
Jay Mel: Are you asking does Youngstown influence music? Like, does Youngstown have its own style? Is that what you’re asking?

Parlé: Yeah, yeah. Like do you guys sort of have your own style there?
Jay Mel: Mmm no. By no means. Most of all, it’s tough in this area, and you even talk to like DJs–my own DJ, he was spinning the new Chris Brown song the other night, and people stopped dancing when it came on. But it’s going to be a hit. So it’s tough for a lot of artists to do their own thing. So for the most part, everything sort of sounds like a mixture of what someone else is doing. Follow me?

Parlé: Yeah. So, have you been sort of paying attention to some of the other things that are going around in the state right now, guys like Stalley or Kid Cudi or anything like that? Are you just too busy with your own thing …
Jay Mel: I definitely pay attention to what other artists are doing, because if they’re making it they’re obviously doing something right in some way. Not that I’m trying to choose a style and bite off a style that they might be using, but I am paying attention because they’re making noise and getting signed. You know, moving further then what I’m at right now. Stalley, he’s doing his thing. Kid Cudi, I heard that he did something with like rock music now?

Parlé: Yeah, with Dot Da Genius.
Jay Mel: I didn’t get to hear anything, I was just reading that last night.

Parlé: It’s pretty out there.
Jay Mel: People like Machine Gun Kelly, from Cleveland, there’s definitely people doing stuff in Ohio that is getting noticed.

Parlé: Definitely. When you released the track “Live It Up”, you launched a “Live It Up” campaign, it’s been about a month into this thing. How’s that going? What have you been doing that made it more of a campaign then just a simple single release?

Jay Mel: For the most part, I have a team around me now that I never had before. So with Shirronda [Sweet, Mel's publicist] and my management out in LA, with Josh Fisher, they’re just kind of putting everything in the business aspect more correct, if you would. “Live It Up” was like the first real push that I had with industry people by my side. Did it go as well as we had planned? I don’t know. But we’re still releasing music consistently, and what I’m looking to do now is actually the project. I’m working on that. I’m going to be flying out to LA, sitting down with some producers out there and really just trying to get a whole full project that isn’t just like “yo, that’s tight for a kid from Youngstown,” but “yo that’s a dope project from top to bottom for anybody.”

Parlé: They said you were going to perform like at a 5k in Pittsburgh? I’ve never heard of something like that. Tell me about that, man. That sounded like a cool idea.
Jay Mel: One of my guys out in Pittsburgh, he puts on benefits for whatever situation it is. So there was an autism benefit, he did a 5k for it. I’m always down to support less fortunate people by any means possible. So he asked if I wanted to do it, and I was like yeah, let’s go out. People ran, they raised $7500 for it, I performed, and it was a good time.

Parlé: How did people react to that kind of thing? Did you get a good response from it?
Jay Mel: Yeah, I was actually kind of nervous, because it wasn’t really like, obviously, a Hip-Hop crowd. But a lot of people knew who I was, and they loved it. So I was … I definitely walked out of there a - NYC's Urban Entertainment Magazine Parle

"YSU Jambar: From Best Friends to Rhythmic Beats"

Four friends from the Youngstown area had high hopes for their future in music. Individually, each man had his own creative skill set. Now, they are joining forces to find fame.

Jason Melidona, 28, works full-time as a part of the Geek Squad at Best Buy to support his 4-year-old son and pay his bills.

Melidona, also known as JayMel, is trying his hand in the hip-hop industry, and he won’t stop until he makes it.

“I never really knew what I wanted to do with my life. I would have some things that I could do if I decided to give up the music, but music has taken center stage,” Melidona said.

His music was broadcast on a local radio station, 101.9 WRBP JAMZ, after winning the Home Jamz contest for best new single in 2009. As a prize, he traveled to New York to work on his career.

In 2009, Melidona also signed a contract with Josh Fisher and Lamar Christian, two of the four friends, which kick-started his career.

Fisher, who lived in Los Angeles for eight years, started a managing company called MacMedia and signed Melidona to his label.

“At the time, I couldn’t really do much for him ‘cause I was still young, and I was trying to develop myself and my career as a young man,” Fisher said. “Now is the time where things are just coming into place. I’m able to focus, and he’s at an all-time high with creativity.”

One of the more creative aspects of Melidona’s music, he said, is the blend of different sounds. The rapper played drums for nearly 16 years, which he said gave him a rock ‘n’ roll edge.

This, in part, is what initially caught the eye of Melidona’s public relations manager, Weyu Wantata, who was his disk jockey from 2007 to 2010.

Christian introduced Wantata to Melidona during a show at then Barley’s downtown. Wantata said he was impressed with his “total package” as a rapper with his presence and his lyrics.

“He had my attention, which was a victory in itself,” Wantata said. “Back then, rap was about a lot of gangster or dope game. I thought he was the only artist there that was actually genuine with me.”

Wantata said he listened to Melidona’s music after their meeting, when he was going through a personal conflict.

“I definitely was struggling with who I wanted to be and what career field would make me happy,” Wantata said. “I was burning out at my current job.”

Wantata was partially unemployed in 2009 and was suffering financially. He always felt the young rapper had a unique talent that made him feel better.

Melidona writes his own lyrics, but said he works best spontaneously, feeding off his daily routine at work and home.

“I’m more spur of the moment. I’ll just write a full song on one sit down. Usually, it’s not a couple days of writing music; it’s just whatever mood I’m in at the time,” Melidona said.

Seeing his son after a day at work, he said, is another one of his biggest inspirations.

“My 4-year-old son is probably the most important thing in my life,” Melidona said. “He’s always wanted to play the drums, and he’s always begging me to set him on my lap and bang away.”

Melidona admits if he had been in this position several years ago, he would not have been mentally prepared for it. Working with Fisher and his other friends, he said, has been his biggest motivation.

During their 8-year friendship, Melidona said Fisher always guided him musically. He said most people think making one good song and having a friend in the industry will lead to fame, but he realized that is not how it works at all.

“It’s just the business at the end of the day. It’s not just one person that makes things happen, it’s a whole team of people that can make it happen,” JayMel said. “If one person thinks that they’re good enough to make it on their own, they’re very wrong.”

Wantata said the experience has tested every emotion he could go through, but the inspiration created by the close-knit group is unmatchable.

“Working with the group, you just feel so much energy, and it’s like, ‘Wow, if we continue with this, we could really do something that we never imagined we could do,’” Wantata said.

Melidona said Fisher could “most likely” get him a record deal. However, he and the rest of the group want to keep things the way they are, for now.

The men, Melidona said, enjoy working with each other, and the last thing they want is a “big hand” pushing them around.

“I have all these guys that have been through the thick and thin of me looking like a loser out there or me looking really awesome,” Melidona said. “And all of these guys have always been there regardless of the situation I’ve been in there, so it’s like we’re all best friends, and it’s more of a family thing.”

Throughout his work with Melidona, Wantata said he quickly learned that Melidona is one of the sharpest listeners he has ever met. He said he takes advice and sets it in action.

Fisher agrees that Melidona’s work ethic is exquisite.

“He has the abil - Youngstown State University Jambar by Chelsea Telega Arts and Entertainmnt Editor


Check out the audio section of this EPK to listen to some of his newest and hottest tracks!

Solange- Losing You (Freestyle Remix)- 2013

Jay-Z- Open Letter (Freestyle Remix)- 2013

Harlem Shake (Illest Freestyle Remix)- 2013

Drake- Started From the Bottom (Freestyle Remix)- Jay Mel ft. AyZee- 2013

A-Cup (single/video)- 2013

Everything (Remix)- Ky' Ly' Ntae ft. Jay Mel (single)- 2013

Same Thing (single)- 2013

Make It (single/video)- 2012

In the Kitchen (freestyle)- 2012

Live It Up (single/video)- 2012

The Motto (freestyle/video)-2012

All I Need (single/video)-2011

You Know EP-2011
1)You Know (single/video)
2)White Walls (single)
3)I'm Good (single/video)
4)Jay Mel - 5 track teaser

Who is Jay Mel (Mixtape)- 2010
1)Put Em Up ft. AyZee
2)In and Out
3)Top Floor
4)Fall Short
5)Envy (Remix) ft. Pryslezz
6)See the Clouds
7)Last Hope
8)Still Dreamin' ft. Brownie
9)This is Stupid
10)Forever ft. Robb Sessions & Scotty B
11)My Thing
12)No Questions, Hands Down
13)Rock the Mic
14)Turnt Up (3Thirty Version) ft. Jay-Five
15)Honda, Kia, Chevy ft. Scotty B
16)I'm Gone...



Jay Mel isn’t afraid to take risks.

The Youngstown, OH rapper bends, breaks, and burns the rules every time he steps into the vocal booth or on stage. With songs like “Too Up”, “Go!...Try!”, “I’m Good Pt. 2”, “I’m On” and “Better Days” he slides infectious pop hooks over cleverly catchy verses. His refrains are radio-ready while his raps possess an undeniable grit and gusto. Instead of resorting to the same tired vernacular, he makes a conscious effort to use witty wordplay. Rather than penning more jams about partying, his son serves as his biggest musical inspiration. Now, audiences worldwide are going to have his name bumping in and out of their speakers.

Jay Mel has begun to make his statement in 2012. In late 2011, the Youngstown, OH artist signed with Joshua Fisher's Mac Media Entertainment and started off the year strong by releasing new music and new videos as he finished the year in the same manner by winning the Ohio Hip Hop Award for Best Live Performance!

Jay Mel definitely deserved the award as he had been performing all year, not only in the state of Ohio, but in Los Angeles, CA, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, PA as well. He’s shared the stage with B.o.B, MGK, and Twista in addition to other national acts. He’s also built a memorable performance style. "I like to interact and entertain. The interaction with people is what I love the most.” In February, Jay’s knack for moving the crowd won him a performance slot on the Michigan based Rockapalooza while performing at a competition near Akron. In April, while traveling to Los Angeles for meetings with chart-topping producers such as JR Rotem, The Cataracts, and The Stereotypes, Jay performed at the legendary Key Club. June was a big month for Jay as he embarked on the Ohio Hip Hop Awards Showcase Tour touching 8 major cities throughout the state of Ohio as well as performing at Rockapalooza which drew over 8,000 attendees. While on the Ohio Hip Hop Awards Showcase Tour, Jay won the top performer slot in Columbus, OH, which gained him an invite to perform at the Ohio Hip Hop Awards where he was also nominated for Best Live Performer. His performance at Rockapalooza was an overwhelming success and promoters immediately invited him to perform on the main stage at Cleveland Rockapalooza which took place in September. He's currently booked for the rest of the year locally and in surrounding cities.

With the release of his new music and videos, Jay was able to garner new fans that helped bolster his touring, media/ press exposure on some leading hip hop blogs such as thisis50.com, ArtistDirect.com, Doughnuts & Milk, IAAM, Frostclick, Skope Radio & TV, Fuse On Demand, and more. His videos have received 155,000 plus views to date and he has over 4,000 Facebook fans and over 2,500 Twitter fans. “This is just the beginning, me and my team are ready to take things to the highest level!” says Jay Mel. Jay Mel plans on releasing another round of new music and new videos at the top of the year.
Even though he began rapping at 15, Jay officially embraced his gift in 2010. A local radio station, Jamz 101.9, held a contest for “Best Local Rapper”. Jay submitted a blazing cut called “Envy” and won by a landslide! As his prize for winning, the station flew him to New York for a meeting with Island Def Jam. That meeting quickly inspired the creation of his first official mixtape Who Is Jay Mel? The mixtape caught a flurry of local attention due to fresh, fiery sound that wasn’t exactly pop or hip hop—it was simply Jay Mel.

Jay describes his style best. "I want to make chilled-out, good time music,” he says. “I try to write memorable hooks, while adding a little more grime to the verses. Pop hip-hop is the most casual way to present it. His pop hip-hop hybrid comes to life during “In and Out” from Who Is Jay Mel? The track rises with sharp, slick quips before snapping into a massive chorus. "One original song, “She Won’t Leave Me”, functions as his “song for the ladies”, and it’ll make more than a few girls fall in love. Meanwhile, “Live It Up” is something of a declaration of fun for Jay with its sunny, carefree bounce. "When I found the beat, I wrote the song in an hour,” he reveals. “It's something people can get into and feel that they're a part of. Once it starts, it keeps you going."

Jay keeps going too. Rather than relying on one producer, he connects with his expanding network of business associates and friends, who are beat makers alike, while also scouring the Internet for different beats and producers in order to create a different track every time. Also, when he’'s looking for inspiration, he doesn’t have to look any farther than his family. He goes on, “"My son is my direction in terms of what I’m doing with my life."