CMU Rapper 97babyjay Strives Toward Success, a Better World

Photo courtsey of 97babyjay, Story by Justin Cooper

Detroit-raised rapper and Central Michigan University junior Jaylin Anderson, whose rapper name is 97babyjay, is an up-and-coming rapper not only hustling to make waves in the music industry, but also hustling to make a difference.

He’s been rapping since the age of 13. Videos of Anderson’s music can be found dating back to 2015, when he recorded under the name SchemeTeam K.O.K.E. (“K.O.K.E. stands for Keep On Killin Em, as in keep killing everything I do,” he said.) The chorus of his first song, “I Can’t Give A F***,” reflects his ambition to rise above the streets. It was recorded and produced in his cousin’s basement studio. That working relationship was short-lived.

“[My cousin] went to jail right after I dropped my first song, and the crazy part was that I was going to his house to record another one when I found out he got arrested,” he said. “I still talk to him, though.”

Since then, he’s changed his name to 97babyjay and released numerous songs and freestyles, several of which are available on Apple Music, Spotify and Tidal, and performed at clubs, bars and open mic nights around Michigan and as far away as Atlanta and Orlando.

Most of his lyrics come from his experiences hanging out with his friends on the streets of Detroit, and though he looks back fondly on his upbringing, money could sometimes be tight. When Anderson was 12, his father went to Chicago to attend college, and it fell on his mother to pick up the slack.

“My momma was always busy and working extra to help pay the bills,” he said. “I think it was around that time my eyes really opened to what was going on with my family and how hard it actually was for us but you know, they did their best to keep us fed and clothed.”

Recently, Anderson released two songs on Moore Media Records’ “Rebirth” Fall sampler, which he played at Wayside on Nov. 17 in promotion. He just released a music video for his Sept. single “Grateful,” a song about not taking your life for granted, and is working on a mixtape called “Detroit Nights 2” planned for next year.

“My current goal is to gain a big enough buzz to where I start doing what I really want to with my career,” he said, “which is to start using my platform to talk to Detroit youth and steer them in the right path; do some good things for the city.”

Anderson’s hometown of Detroit is the linchpin tying together his musical and altruistic passions. “My biggest influence is my city, because without my city I would have nothing to talk about,” he said. “The reason I make music is to give the youth and even older people in the streets music to relate to and get through the day with. Even give them something to walk away with.”

“I just want to show the youth that there’s other ways to get money besides the streets,” he said. “I know that’s a cliché thing that most rappers say, but I’m dead serious.”