The senior and former track star can occasionally be spotted donning a Columbia jacket and listening to music. However, beneath his simple and unassuming façade, Onye is an electrifying hip-hop performer known as Jayali.
Onye will perform live at 9 p.m. Friday at Max’s Place. The performance is part of “A Festivus for the Rest of Us,” which will include AnnaMarie Hosei and other local musicians.
Tickets are $5 at the door and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Trained Eye Arts Center, a local non-profit arts organization that offers both educational and outreach programs to Bloomington artists.
Onye’s music is marked by hypnotizing beats and thought-stimulating lyrics. He draws from a wide variety of influences, including jazz, blues, soul and rap.
“I would describe (my sound) as classic,” Onye said. “You can listen to it in a car or in a stadium or on a bike ride. It transcends all types of settings.”
Jayali said he has been affected by the music of modern artists such as Jay-Z, Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West, who manufacture beats “that hit you right in the stomach.”
Onye controls nearly every facet of his music-making process from production to engineering to songwriting.
“The process starts with being a producer,” Onye said. “I have to lay the beat down. Being an engineer comes next. The engineering ups the quality of the music. I then go onto the writing. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes its slow. That’s just the way the creative process is.”
He says he has grown in many artistic respects. His first performance took place when he was attending high school in Rhode Island. Since then, he has released four EPs. His fifth mix tape, “The My Man Mixtape,” which will be released this Friday, marks the gradual adaptation of Jayali.
“My first (EP), you could definitely tell that I wasn’t as comfortable on the microphone as I am now,” Jayali said. “In all three aspects of the creative process I’ve grown immensely, from taking classes on audio engineering and listening to more music to perfect my craft.”
Hosei, who is also set to perform at “A Festivus for the the Rest of Us,” has been perfecting her singing voice since she was young.
“When I was younger, I taught myself how to sing,” Hosei said. “I looked up to Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion.”
Hosei has played several different venues around Bloomington, and she is especially excited to play Festivus.
“(The showcase) is gonna be a pretty awesome event, not only because it’s raising money for the arts, but you get to see good performers playing their own music,” Hosei said.
Jayali is also looking forward to the event.
“A Festivus for the Rest of Us for me means laughter, which is food for the soul,” Jayali said.
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