I’ve been told a lot that your name shapes you. It’s not something that you choose yourself but it’s something that affects your perception of everything. A reminder of your heritage, your upbringing and just the overall connotations of all things linguistic in our world.
This name was something I embraced after being called it by friends at the malleable age of 13. The only names I’d known before then other than my birth name were nicknames from my family which had an edge of humour within them and my nickname on the basketball court: ‘white boy’
Taking on the name JayO allowed me to forge an identity outside of my own head. A quiet hip hop lover who just wanted to play sports and express his intelligence creatively had found an avenue for his to allow himself to find himself amidst conformity.
I’ve been writing since I was a small child, poems and short stories. But this craft had seemingly died within me from doing anything publically until the name JayO was there.
Under this alias, I went round the country performing, have released song after song and project after project, feeling that this avenue was the road best travelled. Until the person JayO allowed me to grow into was no longer. The name which had helped shape me became like a burden, a reminder of a past that I was no longer affiliated with. I am no longer the child who was first given this name or the teenager who used it as a mask to cover insecurities and to espouse views that were not entirely his own.
So I’m deciding now, after a decade of knowing this alter-ego, after all this time controlling the dreaded ‘creative other’ side of me, to just kill his label. I am happy with the time spent as this label has allowed me to explore and go places I never thought I would go growing up so I look back fondly. But going forward I know that sometimes the old person has to die so the new can be reborn, I learnt that in church.
The person has been reborn, and it’s essentially the person who came out his mother’s womb over 20 years ago. Only this time, my person has been shaped and I’m not afraid of the hidden crevices of my soul, the inner demons inside or whichever colloquialism you wish to tag to the acceptance of oneself. I no longer need to hide behind an alias. From now on, it’s just me. With the two middle names, one in tribute to my uncle and the other from my grandfather and the same first and last name as my own father. If you with me, let’s go and prosper. If you ain’t, may you prosper in whatever you lay your hands on.
I only wish for respect in this craft, now this season of life has passed me. You may now call me by my government name.