Genre: Hip-hop, Rap
There is a sound that rises from the skyline of every city and town, a noise that speaks to those whose lives mirror the congestion and movement of crowded streets and bustling intersections. This sound reveals the character and nature of its host geography and of the transient creativity inherent to those whose voices rise above the pitch and hustle of everyday life to create their own path through this sea of bodies and jumbled metal. For Chattanooga artist Jermaatic, this path has been one riddled with emotional revelation, frustration and the joy of music.
Born in Chattanooga, Jermaatic—the musical alter-ego of Jeremy Edwards--split his childhood years between Cleveland, TN and Kennesaw,GA, although he currently resides in Cleveland. Rapping since he was 15, Edwards developed a far more serious outlook on his music in his mid-‘20s.
“I would always freestyle for my friends, and they always seemed to love it and be entertained by it,” he reveals. “I was just playing with it for years and always thought that I would eventually be in a rock band as a frontman—I still might like to do that.”
Drawing inspiration from a wide range of artists and genres, Edwards cites both Eminem and Lil Wayne as major influences on his style and production. But he doesn’t limit himself to the borders of hip hop. He also lists bands like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and Widespread Panic as touchstones for the way in which he incorporates various sounds and textures into his lyrical detonations. Even a band like Slipknot, whose ferocious metallurgy seems far removed from his persona as Jermaatic, gets mentioned, as he often talks about them being one of the main reasons he wanted to become a musician when he was younger.
He eventually joined the Army and was deployed out of Fort Bragg as an Army paratrooper to Iraq, a place where he still held on to those musical aspirations and continued to work on his craft even while on foreign ground. “One of our favorite pastimes in the barracks was to see who could roast who in a freestyle battle,” he explains. After he returned home, his love of music drove him to start recording songs to his computer without any formal training. “I would stay up days and nights trying to piece together different rhyme schemes and melodies, trying to stay persistent and active through the many highs and lows in my life.”
Combining a more serious perspective on life with the laidback swagger that hip hop often demands, Edwards uses his time in the Army, as a father and a series of interconnected and extremely personal musical influences to create a fierce and ultimately inclusive rap movement that allows him the freedom to approach any subject from a variety of angles, and to deliver truth and an occasionally barbed honesty where other artists would only provide a shallow insincerity.
Music is a release—it’s a way of dealing with the realities of the world in which we find ourselves. But for Jermaatic, it’s much more than that, “I make music because it's calming to me after I finish completing a song.” Using these sounds as a way of turning away from various vices, Edwards fashions his songs as confessionals and a record of innate realizations about his own flaws and desires. But by approaching his work as a means of recovery and redemption, he finds the necessary inspiration and determination to stay on that narrow path. “I get such a natural high from writing music. I'm addicted to it. I'll be doing this until the day I die.”