Editor’s note: The author of this article contacted the L.A. Weekly in May 2019 to explain that he may have been in error when detailing the subject’s gang links and history of drug dealing that were mentioned in an earlier version. The author says that the interview was “conducted in a loud, outdoor setting,” so it’s possible that he “misquoted or misheard” Worthy. He also says that the subject’s former publicist gave him false information.
Jay Worthy can’t be understood via online biography. The rapper of South Asian Indian descent, who’s the stepbrother of Grimes, received his first major industry co-sign from the late A$AP Yams.
Unless it’s revealed that Suga Free is secretly the sibling of one of the Ace of Base girls and spent most summers in Sweden, no accurate comparisons exist. If Worthy’s backstory raises questions, then his real-life persona and music swiftly answer them.
“Certain niggas that would meet me in the industry would be like, ‘Who’s blood? You’re with [Grimes], but from over here?” Worthy says, bearded, white-teed and rocking an L.A. cap. “You gotta do your history, but when you do, you learn that I’m official and not to be played with.”
In this year alone, Worthy has released albums with the grimiest producer alive, Alchemist, and G Perico, the Broadway Gangsta Crip who would be Eazy-E’s favorite rapper if Eric Wright were still breathing. The latter, a Cardo-produced collaboration called G Worthy, is one of the year’s best rap records, a funky palm trees–and-pistols swerve down Rosecrans and Crenshaw, throwing up signs and smoke.
By 17, a series of events occurred that made it imperative to leave Canada. “Shit was getting crazy,” he says. So in 2004, Worthy relocated to a friend’s grandmother’s house that happened to be smack in the Westside of Compton, the infamous hood immortalized by DJ Quik, Lamar and The Game.
Aside from Game, West Coast gangsta rap was largely moribund for the latter half of the 2000s. Worthy attempted to write and record songs but mostly stayed heavy in the streets. The idea of a music career didn’t become serious until 2012 — the year that Grimes blew up and Yams endorsed Worthy’s slinking G-funk project, LNDN DRGS.
“Not too many homies are around from my circle. We were really out there on some cowboy shit.”
“It was a turning point. Everyone in my ’hood told me, you’re either gonna catch a case or get killed,” Worthy says gravely. “All my homies were in wheelchairs, getting life in prison or dead. Not too many homies are around from my circle. We were really out there on some cowboy shit.”
The chaos has partially subsided. Worthy has relocated to the safer environs of West L.A., which is about as different from the Westside of Compton as Westphalia, Germany.
Despite still having one foot on the block and one foot out, his recent emergence as one of the best purveyors of modern G-funk figures to accelerate that escape.
“I had a crazy life, but I’m at a happy place right now,” Worthy exhales with relief.
I ask him why he thinks he’s managed to survive this long. He can only shrug.
“I don’t know, man, I don’t know. Maybe it’s the way I move or maybe it’s something up above. It’s only by the grace of God that I’m still here.”
More from Jeff Weiss:
Prince’s Friend and Former Bandmate Cymone Is Keeping the Purple One’s Spirit Alive
Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. Confirms It: This Is the Golden Age for L.A. Hip-Hop
Why Elliott Smith’s Either/Or Is My “Break Glass in Case of Existential Crisis” Album
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