Criminal Minded

Local hip-hopper Jediah has a debut album ready to drop, a penchant for feuds, major-league hype — and a lot of tattoos

It was a shocking introduction to the economic realities of hip-hop stardom. "I grew up listening to Trick Daddy," he says. "I got a lot of love for Trick, but when he came at me like that, man, I didn't know what to make of it. I mean, I'm from Miami. I know you're the boss and I don't want to disrespect you, but I got a girl that's pregnant and we need to make some bread so I'm gonna hustle on this corner of the block and what you want? Like, a little cut? Ten percent? He's asking for, like, 90 percent! That just means he don't want me to eat!"

The day he heard Trick's reply, Jediah says he went back into the recording booth to drop "I'm Jediah." The song, a menacing thumper, featured a withering attack on Trick Daddy. "What you do, pussy nigga, I don't give a fuck," Jediah snarls. "You keep talking like a thug, you gonna get touched."

The single was conveniently leaked to a couple of underground radio stations, where it naturally attracted attention. "I was getting props from mad people," Jediah recalls. "They were like, öFinally, someone who's man enough to tell it like it is.'"

As was to be expected, Trick Daddy struck back with the song "Get Low." Jediah countered with a track called "D Boys," in which he used tongue-and-cheek comebacks such as these: "You got a problem with what I'm saying come and get me dawg/Breaker breaker bang him in his fucking mug/You's a trick and we don't love them hoes in Dade County/ To tell the boss to get low, you get your head bounty."

In fact the feud with Trick attracted the attention of a major record label out in Los Angeles. Jediah says he can't get into specifics, due to legal issues. But he claims he was offered a multimillion-dollar contract, which he declined, for an unexpected reason. "They wanted me to rap in Spanish and I don't do that," he explains. "I'm not gonna change up my style and do some reggaeton shit just because there's a big Hispanic market. That's not who Jediah is."

Besides, Jediah hardly speaks Spanish, an oddity for someone of Colombian descent living in Miami. "When my dad came to this country, he wanted to learn English. He wasn't about speaking Spanish all day," he says. "Plus I grew up around black people. When people see me, they know I'm not some white Spanish dude; they know I'm a Spanish nigga."

Jediah is not the sort of fellow prone to regrets. But he does concede that he might have jumped the gun a bit in dissing Trick Daddy, given that Trick's request for payment was, in the end, hearsay. Still he insists, "I'm a gangsta and that's what gangstas do: We don't step down when we get disrespected like that. But man, I'm more mature now, I got things to live for. I got a daughter, you know. I'm not about to throw all this shit away."

"J's not all ghetto 24/7," Studio Center's Mendez notes. "I mean, I've seen him as a father, playing with this daughter. He's also this serious poker player playing at these big-time tournaments. If you look beyond his physical appearance, Jediah's a big teddy bear."

A big teddy bear with a thugged-out wardrobe and multiple prison-inspired tattoos, true, but also a guy who knows when to take life seriously and when to lighten up. "Man, in this business, it's all about how gangsta you are, how mean you are, all about öbeing real.' But for me, keeping it real is showing all sides of you: happy, sad, angry, vulnerable. No one walks around mad all day," Jediah laughs. "That's just impossible!"

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