As Jahkoy plays his wistful acoustic track “No Regrets” at VIBE’s New York office, the Toronto native makes it clear he’s all about love and happiness in the R&B terra. “People really look down on love because there are so many other artists promoting the art of being a player and being in the moment,” he says. The track is just one of many love notes to the world on his upcoming EP, Foreign Water. “I just want to bring back love into our daily lives.”
The 22-year-old has always been a fan of slow jams. From 90s legends like Lauryn Hill to Canadian treasures like Shawn Desmen, the singer isn’t clawing to nostalgia, but trying to bring the best elements to listeners today. Born Jahkoy Palmer, the singer actually jumpstarted his career as a rapper with the stage name Raheem. “I wanted to be one of those guys who had a really cool name,” he explains between laughs. “But when it came to branding, when you would Google ‘Raheem,’ it would come up the Raheem from Juice or Do the Right Thing or Raheem Devaughn, so I wasn’t able to sit in my own world.” His world later proved to be songs about relationships, growth and internal struggles. Hypnotic and honest, his voice echoes the airy soul chords the genre has comfortably rested on over the years. Tracks like “Odd Future” and “Still In Love” provide a bridge between what the genre was and where it’s heading. As his presence on Soundcloud grew after the 2015 releases of Forward Thinking and Temptations, he signed to Def Jam earlier this year.
But a label, cosigns from Jaden Smith and monumental Soundcloud views aren’t the things that bring Jahkoy pure joy. Smiling from ear to ear, the singer says the attention his city gets thanks to acts like Drake and The Weeknd is something that he’s proud of. “It’s really really dope to see Toronto get the love it’s getting now,” he said. “People didn’t really think of Canada at all. No one cared what our provinces or states look like. Now, they’re anxious to want to go there, they want to come and see that the hype is about. People are coming to Toronto and getting into writing camps and really exploring that side of the music world [here].”
His new project Foreign Water hitting the web Friday (Oct. 28), lays out the blueprint of his journey so far and gives R&B fans a new favorite act. Check out our chat with the promising artist in the gallery above.