Shalom Life | May 09, 2015

EXCLUSIVE: Interview With Teen Rapper Jake Zeldin aka Lil JaXe

14-year old Jake Zeldin discovered that his stutter disappears when he’s rapping.

By: Ashley Baylen

Published: June 12th, 2013 in Culture » Music » Interviews

Toronto-based rapper, Jake Zeldin aka Lil JaXe, has only been rapping for two years but his quick rhymes, intelligent lyrics, and infectious smile have already won the hearts of fans both locally and around the globe. Lil JaXe has inspiring determination, creativity, and a unique voice in the competitive world of hip hop music, and he uses that platform to address bullying issues and motivate others with speech challenges… oh ya, did I mention that Lil JaXe has a significant stutter? You would never know it listening to his music.

After years of working with a variety of speech therapies and becoming frustrated with the poor results, Lil JaXe discovered that his stutter completely disappeared when he rapped. He was able to communicate with friends and family in a way he had only imagined until that point; effortlessly sharing thoughts, hopes, and dreams.

Over the past two years, his combined raw talent, passion, and determination have won the attention of music industry executives, international superstar (and fellow Jewish Torontonian) Drake, and national audiences.

Lil JaXe has overcome bullying from both teachers and fellow students, and is now passionate about helping other kids who suffer in silence with speech challenges and other issues around the world.

I had a chance to talk to Lil Jaxe about his passion for hip-hop, his greatest influences, his upcoming debut full-length and his challenges with a life-long stutter.


ASHLEY BAYLEN (AB): Were you a huge fan of rap music prior to discovering that rapping made your stutter disappear?

LIL JAXE (LJ): I have always really enjoyed hip hop and rap and have always been a big fan because people can express themselves and their feelings through music and rap, but I think I became a bigger fan knowing that I can do it so well. I have always been a huge fan of Drake, Big Sean and Emimem.

AB: Prior to using rap as a form of speech therapy, you went to several speech pathologists, specialists, and tried numerous methods in an attempt to eliminate your stutter. Do you understand why rapping works better than all other methods?

LJ: The experts say that it is a right brain left brain thing, but I think it has a lot to do with rhythm. I also feel very comfortable and the words just flow out very smoothly. I also seem to be in my element when I perform in front of many people, it just seems to be where I belong.

AB: Both students and teachers teased you since your first day of school. Can you tell us about some of those experiences? How did teachers tease you?

LJ: Children always found my speaking to be different and therefore always teased and made fun of the way I spoke. In grade six a teacher made fun of me at recess and mocked me in front of tons of children. The experience was very difficult to accept and to forget. Then in grade seven my drama teacher made fun of me in front of my whole class. I was doing a presentation and I put on a different voice. She said in front of the class, ''she did not know what is more annoying that voice or when I stutter''. I use all of this as motivation to push me to succeed.

AB: Your bravery combined with your raw talent is an inspiration to every young kid, whether they are dealing with speech challenges or not. Do you plan to use your newfound popularity and voice to address bullying issues at school?

LJ: Yes absolutely! I do many concerts for anti bullying. I have done a bunch of shows for Crime Stoppers and their new anti-bullying program. I think that if people can relate to me and my story, then I am doing something right. Just because you may be different does not give people the right to be mean and bully others. I think all people should try and make a difference and stand up to people who do not know better. I will always continue to speak about my story and use it as a platform to help others in similar situations.

Lil Jaxe talks meeting Drake, his influences, and his favorite topics to rap about on the next page!

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