When Pompano Beach rapper Jackboy is asked what he will experiment with musically, he doesn't hesitate with his answer: “Everything. Everything that they think I can’t.”
It turns out this simple yet bold declaration embodies Jackboy’s determined nature and steadfast work ethic. Since the very beginning, the 23-year-old Sniper Gang artist has faced challenges posed by his environment and upbringing, the industry, and more. But in the last four years, he has managed to beat the odds to prosper while cultivating a sound uniquely his own.
Jackboy was born Pierre Delince on August 27, 1997, in Haiti. When he was just six years old, he and his family moved to the United States, hopping around different South Florida cities like North Lauderdale before settling in Pompano Beach.
He doesn’t remember much about his home country, but proudly reps his Haitian background. (He dropped the single “Spittin’ Facts” this past May 18, Haitian Flag Day). Of all of the places he’s lived, Jackboy insists that he’s learned the most from Golden Acres, a notorious public housing project in Pompano Beach.
And what did he learn there? “Survival,” he says matter-of-factly.
It was long ago in the Golden Acres projects that Jackboy met his best friend, rapper and Sniper Gang label founder Kodak Black. The two instantly bonded, maybe due to their uncanny similarities. They both are children of Haitian immigrants who lived in poverty in the same projects. And they’re a couple of months apart in age. As Kodak says in Jackboy’s song “Like a Million”: “Jackboy that's my nigga we so alike that nigga my synonym.”
From the day they met, Jackboy and Kodak have been nearly inseparable. Loyalty means everything to Jackboy, who has consistently shouted out Kodak in songs, interviews, and social media, and has publicly advocated for his release from prison the many times his friend has been behind bars. (Most recently, Kodak, whose legal name is Bill K. Kapri, began serving an almost-four year sentence in a Kentucky prison on federal gun charges). In turn, Kodak has prayed for Jackboy’s return home each time he’s been incarcerated as well.
The two have been entangled in legal trouble since they were children—when you’re surrounded by crime, you often can’t help but think that’s the only solution to “finesse,” as Jackboy says. “[Growing up on the streets] pushed me toward crime,” Jackboy states, confessing he was first arrested at age 11 after accompanying an older friend as they broke into someone’s home. “I was in [jail] for one day. But then it kept on ‘cause the cycle began,” Jackboy says. He tells New Times he had dreams of becoming a football player, but they faded when he was repeatedly arrested, once at age 12, and another time at 13, when he was sent off to juvie, where he remained until he was 17.
The cycle wasn't broken when he turned 18. Jackboy was busted for other crimes that included credit-card fraud, aggravated battery, and numerous counts of armed robbery throughout the years. His moniker, Jackboy, explicitly refers to this behavior, as it literally means a person who commits robberies. By the time he turned 22 years old, he had been locked up for eight years of his life, according to an interview of his with Genius.
Growing up behind bars made him more “observant and patient” than other people his age, he says. But perhaps the most significant change to occur while he was in jail was his evolution from a boy who jacks to… Jackboy: the artist.
Like most rappers, he began his entry into music by freestyling. In fact, the very first studio-recorded song of his to appear online was a 2016 freestyle in which he rapped over “Hot Nigga,” the wildly popular 2014 song by New York rapper Bobby Shmurda.
Kodak Black’s career took off in 2016 when he made XXL magazine’s 2016 Freshman class. Back then, an interviewer asked him who else he thought should have been a part of the class and he gave a shout out to his best friend. At the time, Jackboy didn’t have a single song available online to stream, but Kodak saw his potential. “I had a couple little freestyles—not to the world, but like written—but when I seen my name in the XXL magazine, I was like ‘Oh yeah, imma start taking this serious,’” Jackboy shares.
In December of that year, Jackboy dropped his first mixtape, Stick Up Kid, which included features from Kodak and PnB Rock. But he didn't really take music seriously until he went back to jail again. This time, he realized rap might save him from staying locked up. “I was supposed to catch a real, real long time [in jail], but since they saw that I was a rapper and I had a career, they gave me a chance with it,” Jackboy says, “...Music is the reason I got spared.”
Even though he possesses a lengthy criminal rap sheet, it’s evident that Jackboy desires to move past this lifestyle. In a 2019 interview with YouTube channel ThisIs50 he clarified his name, “People, when they think Jackboy, they assume: ‘Gun. Robbery.’ But I could do it with my mind too. I could rob you for your information in your mind. I don't necessarily have to be doing it in a bad way.”
This attitude aligns with Jackboy’s recent behavior. His latest arrest was back in August of 2019 when police pulled him over for a probation violation and additional charges of possession of weed and tampering with physical evidence. He was released about a day later and has not had a run-in with the law since. Instead, he has been working hard at his craft.
Jackboy’s early music sounded almost identical to his best friend’s. On “Too Fy” from Jackboy’s first mixtape, he carries the hook, but then Kodak Black jumps in with the first verse and it’s difficult to tell them apart. Both have the same dirty south accent and slurring tendency.
But during the four years he’s been in the studio, he’s developed his own distinctive sound. He incorporates singing on his tracks, leading choruses with emotional wails and infectious cadences as the lyrical content references a brutal upbringing. One of his most popular songs, “Bipolar,” off of his 2019 mixtape Lost In My Head, is a prime example of this. “Was just on the news / Now he in a coupe / All that pain I went through / Still, I remain true,” he sings in the chorus, emphasizing the last syllable of each bar in a repetitive, yet catchy fashion.
His style is aggressive and sometimes brutish as he inserts guttural growls and snarls between clever bars and merciless threats. On “The World Is Yours” off of his latest project, Living In History, Jackboy raps in this trademark style, “Did so much in the streets, when I try to sleep, I be hearin' voices / Ridin wit' my demons, tryna steal a fucking Rolls Royce.”
“With my new music they don’t [compare me to Kodak anymore] ‘cause he not really singing as much like how I be singing,” Jackboy notes. “They kind of fell back from that when I switched my flow up.”
This year has seen Jackboy’s talent and drive flourish. His debut album, Jackboy, was released back in April and landed him his first spot on the Billboard 200 at #96. The 17-track album included features from Lil Sean, YFN Lucci, Blac Youngsta, Casanova, Warhol.SS, and Kodak on the most popular track “Like a Million.”
His second project of the year, Living In History, was released just a few months later in August. It featured verses from Tee Grizzley and Rylo Rodriguez. Half of the songs on the 14-track project have music videos up on YouTube, all filmed by DrewFilmedIt. The 19-year-old Miami-based director has worked with other Floridian artists like Plies, YNW Melly, and 9lokkNine.
Music videos for five songs on Jackboy were also posted earlier this year. Overall, Jackboy filmed 17 music videos between January and October. As reported in a May article in The Ringer, the work on these music videos was grueling—Drew and Jack filmed five videos in just a week and a half.
With all of this content, you’d think Jackboy would be done for the year. But that isn't the case. The Sniper Gang artist plans to release a deluxe version of Living in History on November 13.
He tells New Times that he plans to include 12 new songs on the deluxe version, with features from Tyga, Sada Baby, and others.
If fans are still hungry, not to worry—Jackboy says he may drop an EP, a collaboration project, or a deluxe of Jackboy. He’s still not sure, but ambition coats his voice as he discusses the possibilities.
That’s the thing about this new Jackboy; he hasn’t lost his hunger for success— it’s the same hunger that had him “finessing” in his earlier days. But what’s different is his perseverance, curiosity, and desire to stand out: “[When I first started going to the studio] it was all a finesse. It was like, ‘Alright whatever, I don't care what I say, I'm gonna get paid off of this.’ But now it's like I'm tryna real deal stand out from everybody…. You just really gotta stay consistent, you just gotta keep on working.”
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.