CHECK OUT RISING ARTIST QONJAY JAMAL
Born Quanit Jamal, Qonjay Jamal is an independent artist who grew up in Dallas, Texas, but also spent time throughout his life in South Asian countries, as well as Dubai. His artist name derives from his initials which also has similar phonetic value as his legal name, that aspect being something he wanted to carry over. The rising rapper writes all of his own tracks and even engineers it himself unless he is trying out a different sound, genre, or vibe, in that case he will seek out another producer to put together a beat.
Qonjay worked for about ten years before releasing his first track this past January. His passion for music turned into more around the age of 19 when he became serious about producing. Additionally, he was met with a lack of support in his community since a music career is often frowned upon.
Currently in his career, 2023 has been full of huge milestones. He released a track called “Only You” which went viral in multiple countries, but predominantly South Asia, Turkey, Morocco and then the city of Dubai. It only went up from there with his follow up release and Instagram Reels. Qonjay has now very recently signed to Panorama Music which is a major record label in India.
Music for him has always been a passion and not a financial outlet, so entering the industry has been a bit challenging; The music industry in the United States operates differently than in India. “…it’s an adjustment for both ends. We do have tons of music we’re going through and figuring out which ones will get released to western American/European markets, and which ones will get released in India and other south Asian countries, and also hopefully get synced into some Bollywood productions.” He also still intends on unofficially releasing music on his social media pages, learning who he is as an artist while dealing with the legal formalities of signing to a label.
When asked about his musical inspiration, he told a sweet story about him and his brother, “Back when I was just a kid, my older brother used to have this little toy keyboard synthesizer and I had this toy that looked like a small, portable speaker…On it, one of the buttons would play the whole mix of the track and then the others were just stems that were tracked out, so it was like an early, toy version of a beat pad…the music that it played was so catchy…I remember that tune in my head from over two decades ago. So, me and my brother were absolutely captivated by the sounds and instruments and we would just gravitate toward anything that had to do with making music.”
Musically, being surrounded by differing cultures, his genre and style is a mixture of everything. He includes American pop, hip hop, R&B, Punjabi, Sufi, and so much more. The “Paas” rapper hopes to showcase himself as a versatile artist willing to explore different sounds. Based on this versatility, when asked about potential collaboration, he picked Drake, Justin Bieber, and Timbaland depending on the style of the track.
Moving along in 2023, Qonjay simply wants to grow as an artist. He hopes to start working with the right team to spread his music since marketing on your own can be a difficult process. Outside of music, he mentioned becoming involved in social work and wants to be in a position where he would be able to do so. “I would say my biggest motivation isn’t a “who” but more of a “what…” being able to make philanthropic efforts in various parts of the world where there is a dire need for it.” He has also set up other businesses in order to not solely depend on making money from music, especially since the money is not his main goal. Overall, he hopes to continue to grow and succeed, even if it is beyond music.
Qonjay lives by the quote “knowledge is power,” spending his free time learning. He discussed watching documentaries about history, civilization, politics, technology, and more. Also, giving back to the community is something that Qonjay feels is important. When COVID hit he was overseas and decided to gather money for a food drive to help those in need. He also feels as though even if the gesture is small, if you can help in any way, you should.
The “Philophobia” rapper says that people should listen to his music because it promotes personal growth and showcases his journey from adolescence to adulthood; This includes thoughts, emotions, assumptions, expectations, and so much more. The world can look different once you grow up and understand more about life and society, so having ways to cope and express yourself are important.
When asked about his favorite aspect about being an artist, he said that the connection fans make with his music can be very validating and heartwarming. “…you see someone moved by your music…that let you know in your own mind that you always did have talent, and it wasn’t just some delusion in your head.”
He told a story about a memorable, fan moment when performing at a local Indian festival in Dallas for Holi. “…there was this little girl that was no older than 12 to 13 years old, I got to the festival and I’m walking towards where the stage is setup and she saw me and started screaming to her mom that “his songs are my favorite I want to take a picture with him. So, at first I got startled but I obviously took a picture with her…”
Although he has had highlights in his career, his road to success has been complicated. He emphasizes the uncertainty and variables that come with the career path. There has been lack of support and jealousy, cultural differences to navigate, and constant hard work with little payoff. Understanding that even the most talented person can go unnoticed really opened his eyes to the many other factors that come into play.
The industry is competitive, so, for anyone hoping to follow in his footsteps, he says that if you want to become an artist, it should always stem from your love of music, not the idea of becoming rich and famous.
One final message he wants to give to his fans is “If you haven’t found the answer yet, then you’re not asking the right question.”
Facebook: QonJay Jamal
WRITTEN BY BRIANNA RIZZI