Last time I sat in Elevator Jay’s west Charlotte studio, in early February, he was still finalizing tracks for his new project. He played me a song and told me the title of the then-mixtape, For Y’all, but told me to keep both on the hush. He didn’t want to tease it out, but rather drop the ode to his supporters without warning once it became ready.
“It’s not an album,” he told me then. “It’s just something to hold everybody down until my next big project comes out. But I ain’t downplaying it, it’s still gonna be grand. It’s still gonna be some fire.”
Fast forward six months, and For Y’all has been on the streets now for two weeks. Jay turned it into a full-length album after all, and the people have spoken.
“I knew people was gonna like it, but at the same time the feedback that I got was really way much more than I expected,” Jay said when I dropped in on him this week. “People really dug this one, because when I made it, in my head, the only thing I knew was that it was for the people. And usually when I make projects I say, ‘Well this what I feel whether you like it or not.’ This time it was kinda like, ‘Well, I like these songs, but I know for a fact these people gonna jam to it.’”
And jam to it they have; the album is filled with upbeat bangers like “Yeen Never Lied” and “Quakin’,” but today he’s dropping the video for the last track of the album, “Just Chill,” which rides things out with a tranquil, kick-back vibe.
The video follows that theme, with Jay and seven friends hitting the lake (the location of which I promised to keep secret, as that’s Jay’s fishing “gold mine”) on a pontoon boat.
For Jay, who’s one of the hardest-working musicians in Charlotte, the “Just Chill” video is like a daydream for those times when he’s grinding but would rather be on the water.
“That’s me. I wanna chill all the time,” Jay said. “One of my favorite places to be is on that water, and there wasn’t no extra stuff going on [in the video], we was just chilling. That’s how I be wanting to live life: just be with my friends, be with family, just chill, have a good time, do stuff like going out on the water, goin’ fishing, everybody have a good time, drinkin’ or whatever. It’s like a day in the life of what I’d rather be doin’.”
The video, directed by Kevin “Surf” Mitchell of Surface Media Group, is a stark contrast to the “Yeen Never Lied” visual that dropped in July, which was more upbeat and in your face than many of Jay’s past videos. The first video from For Y’all, released three months ago, was for “The Same” and featured Jay and others riding horses on a country vibe.
“I like to give people a variety of me. I got plenty ways I can go to, and if you listen to the album, actually, it’s turned up most of the time, and then ‘Just Chill,’ it’s kind of like the last song. ‘Yeen Never Lied’ was turned up, ‘The Same’ was a little bit out there, but I just wanted to give them a lil’ bit of everything so they ain’t missing out on anything.”
The “Just Chill” video features smooth editing from Mitchell, including transitions that add to the stoned feeling of the boat ride in the video without taking from the vibe.
Jay said he’s seen his friend Mitchell grow with every project they’ve collaborated on.
“Surf go crazy, man,” he said, laughing. “He always been going crazy, but man, like lately, he been out of this world with it.”
We can expect to see plenty more from these collaborators, as Jay will continue to create visuals for tracks from For Y’all — possibly all 10 if he finds the time.
He said that for his past albums, he’s released one or two visuals and gotten back into the studio to work on the next one, but he’s taking a different approach this time.
“I’m trying to show people more of my face. I feel like that’s what’s running the world now. If people don’t see you then they can’t believe ya,” he said. “I got a lot of tracks that I really want to take a stab at shooting videos for, and once I get done with all that and continue pushing the album, that’s when I’mma get started on some more material, so I can always be ahead of the curve.”