As a teenager, D.C. native Justus “Jay” Harley says go-go was life. The genre’s reputation for rowdiness has its merits, but when he was in a go-go band, the good always outweighed the bad. Go-go, after all, offered community and tapped into the essence of the region. Also an active member of his high school’s drumline, Jay played the snares and quads. His affinity for percussion instruments went beyond half-time, as he is also a proficient player of the piano, the bass drum, and cymbals.

As Jay got older, his interest transcended from go-go to hip-hop and R&B, and he wound up managing one of his friend’s music career. Together, they’d travel to New York to meet with labels and A&Rs. From that point, Jay’s journey into the business-side of the music industry was under way. Now, he’s working with DCTOP20 to create an environment for artists to fulfill their dreams and actualize their visions.

Jay is one of two resident A&Rs for DCTOP20, fostering relationships with artists by spending time on the ground –and in the studio — with them. A male Cookie Lyon of sorts, Jay has an ear for what sound (production) works for artists and he often makes recommendations based on their existing bodies of work. He has executive produced some songs he is extremely proud of, and finds satisfaction in being able to say records exist because of him. More than anything, though, Jay wants to give artists direction by helping them focus their passion appropriately.

While he’s not looking to position himself as an artist, Jay wants to create and tell stories through music, art, movies, and documentaries. Inspired by low-key impresarios like Jay-Z and Steve Stoute who understand both music and the business of music, Jay is more focused on innovation than fame. He does, however, want to produce at least one song that garners national recognition. In the meantime, Jay hopes to become an executive with DCTOP20, holding a major stake in the company’s creation process. “It’s filled with innovators. It’s filled with creators. It’s filled with people who want to work,” he says. “I really want to be a big part of that.”

Connect with Jay Harley on Twitter and Instagram.

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