YouTube/Jahmed

Jahmed's Race Has Started — Now He's Driving Into The Future

The rapper spoke to MTV News about his debut project, its focus on cars, and his brother's influence on his journey in rap

In another universe, Jahmed has a toothpick in his mouth, a wrench in his hand, and an oil-splotched jumpsuit covering his torso. He’d be a mechanic under your car’s hood, tinkering with your battery even though you just came in for an oil change. But in this realm, the 24-year-old rapper out of Pomona, California spits like nitrous oxide courses through his veins.

His recent video for “Jeep” features the iconic SUV of its title spewing out thick puffs of smoke, and his forthcoming project is named after a storied ride from his past. “It’s about a 1997 Mazda Protege car that I purchased in December of 2018, when I got back to California after I lived in Texas for three years,” he tells MTV News. “When I found it, it had only had 60,0000 miles on the odometer. To be a car that’s over two decades old, it was rare — also, a sign, to me, that it was for me.”  Yet the rapper, inspired by artists like Kendrick Lamar and Three 6 Mafia, isn’t beholden to a gimmick at all.

The “Jeep” video explores the events that led to the death of his older brother 10 years ago when he caught a stray bullet following two strangers’ altercation after a party. It’s just one of three visuals he’s released this year. Jahmed’s already switching into fourth gear just minutes away from the start of the race, working to tell his story on his own terms.

That narrative will begin with Jahmed’s forthcoming eight-song project, The Boof Mobile (styled as one word), which he considers an album because it took over two years to make. “The trippy thing about it is that that same car is what led me to get to Los Angeles back and forth from Victorville — where my dad lives, about an hour away — to record the album that would become The Boof Mobile,” he said. “The name comes from that story.”

Below, Jahmed tells MTV News how he powered The Boof Mobile and what he plans to do once it screeches past that starting line when it drops on March 25.

MTV News: I read that you got into rap music at just 13 when you first began recording. What drove you to rap? 

Jahmed: I feel like that I was born into this. My mom is a huge hip-hop fan. Just growing up in a household where there’s a heavy influence of rap from artists like Jay-Z, Too Short, and DJ Quik, it just came by default. Another thing is that my brother inspired me when he started making beats on [digital audio program] FL Studio in 2008. I’d always be over his shoulder while he was creating. One day, he got tired of me being over his shoulder and was like, “Look man, when I'm not around, this is your workstation, too.” From that point on, I invested in getting my own laptop when I got older and would record from beats that I pulled off of YouTube.

MTV News: What kind of music did your mom have you listening to? What was in your rotation? 

Jahmed: Older Ice Cube like AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted and Death Certificate. Dr. Dre’s [The Chronic] 2001, and Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle. Even though I was based in Los Angeles, she put me onto a lot of stuff from Oakland. As far as artists on the East Coast, I grew up on Jay-Z, bro — all of the Blueprint albums, American Gangster, and Kingdom Come. I was also on Eric B and Rakim before I was on my generation of music.

MTV News: How has your brother influenced your music? 

Jahmed: [My brother]’s presence on my forthcoming album is frequent, but subtle. I pulled inspiration from July 10, and as a result, I got “Jeep.” The first line, “If I die today,” is about remembering the loss of my brother. So every year [in] July, I like to look at it as a bittersweet holiday.

MTV News: How does this play into the “Jeep” video? 

Jahmed: I wanted to throw a curveball with the video. The song “Jeep” has nothing to do with an actual Jeep. Once you remove that title and just listen to the song, you’ll find the true meaning and title, so me and my team applied that same mindset to the visual. Adding a true scenario at the beginning of the video, it’s a simple clip pertaining to Michael. It doesn’t make sense now, but it will make sense later in my career.

MTV News: How would you say your influences have informed your approach to rap? 

Jahmed: If I had to describe my music, it’s like a melting pot of everything that I love, from Three 6 Mafia to Kendrick Lamar to Jay-Z. It’s over energetic beats, but at the same time, I am still able to preach to you.

MTV News: Along with “The Boof Mobile” itself, there are a lot of car references here. Power steering, mileage, and so forth. How’d you get so into cars?

Jahmed: I’m really not into cars. After I copped it, I called my dad and sent him a picture of the Protege. He clowned me and told me that I could have gotten a better car than that, but I didn’t care. It was a beater, but as long as it could get me back and forth to where I needed to go, I didn’t care how it looked. It could have been a minivan for all I care, and the project would probably have ended up being about a minivan. I like BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, and the like, but I can’t tell you anything specific about the models.

MTV News: How long did it take to make the project?

Jahmed: The longest record in the catalog was “Jeep.” Before I left Texas, I had a part of that song done. It ended up taking two years to make because I just felt like it wasn’t complete. I had the first verse and the hook but not the second one. It took me almost six months to come up with the second verse. I didn’t want to rush it because the song was so fire. I wasn’t anxious to get it out there because I knew what I had, and if I took my time to get it out there, it could be the best product that I could put my hands on.

As far as the project goes, it took me another year for me to figure out what I wanted to talk about. I had “Jeep, so I just knew that that record was very special to me. When I came back to California, it was just a process of completing the album.

MTV News: What will listeners take away from listening to The Boof Mobile?

Jahmed: I betted on myself by spending my last $1,100 on this project. The Boof Mobile was just a car at one point. Now it’s a whole world, vibe, and language. We say “boofy” a lot.  I made that project in my darkest times when I didn't have a dime in my pocket. I want people to know to press forward and keep going and you can also achieve.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.