Jaee Bryant celebrates the good things in life and honors a rapper gone too soon on his new EP | Photo by Ashley Rose Stanol

The six songs on local rapper Jaee Bryant’s new EP, Marinatin the Game, are enough to keep you lifted above whatever is dragging you down.

“I’m soaking up the ingredients of the industry,” Bryant said. “I took the time to realize I am independent. I’m trying to soak up as many avenues as I can.” 

Sitting down and reflecting on living his life is what starts his songwriting process, then whatever beat or phrase comes to his mind is what becomes the hook. Bryant’s motivational rap is reminiscent of West Coast gangsta-funk, reflecting on what it’s like to go after what you want with as little stress as possible. 

On the new track, “Be Free,” he raps: “I’m thinking about my new ways / many ways to get paid / my free time I just parlay / and do it my way.” With phrases like “money coming in my sleep,” the track celebrates his self-made success.

“I was going through a lot the past couple of years before this album. But I’m actually happy now, with my relationship, my life and my business. I was in a shell. Now I’m actually collaborating with different people” — like local rapper Kingg on the new song, “Paper,” and California-based producer DJ Idea who engineered the album. In the past Bryant would arrange all his work, but Marinatin the Game was a chance for him to just take the time to write and branch out with collaborations. 

Speaking on both “The Ghost of Chad (Intro)” and “The Spirit of Hustla (Outro),” of the new EP is rapper Pimp C from Underground Kingz. 

“He’s a legend. I was always inspired by what he was saying to the people,” Bryant said.  

For Bryant, Pimp C was a voice of unity and truth, telling what the opposition within the music industry was really like for Black people. He used to watch the late rapper’s interviews and used small pieces of them with permission to reflect his inspiration for pushing forward with his music. 

Bryant realizes that there’s both good and bad with being independent under his own brand Never Say Ruin, but he feels lucky to have a team he trusts. And the shutdown focused his intentions even more. “Never stop dreaming. Just keep grinding. Keep your head up. That’s one thing I’ve learned. There were a couple times I doubted myself. I just kept going.”