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Jay Wyse

After Jay Wyse, the 24-year-old rapper born Javon Shipley, woke up in the hospital in 2009, the surgeon who had just operated on his facial bullet wounds gave him a message. "He was like, 'Man, you're lucky. A couple inches up and it would have been a totally different story,'" Wyse recalled last week from the upstairs of iBar. Wyse, who sports two scars on the right side of his face from a shooting he describes as "a mix-up," is no stranger to hardship. He grew up in McElderry Park without his father and lost his best friend, Timothy Gaskins Jr., to a street shooting. Just as Nas frequently shouted out his fallen friend, Ill Will, Wyse keeps the memory of Gaskins -- known to friends as Biscuit -- alive in his music and online (Wyse's Twitter name reads "R.I.P. Biscuit"). Despite the tragedies, Wyse has optimistically forged on, both as a father (his son, Javon Jr., turns 6 next month) and an artist. Earlier this month, Wyse, who graduated from Edmondson Westside and now lives in Better Waverly, released his third and strongest project to date, the "Choose Wysely EP." He is still riding the momentum from appearing on MTV's "RapFix" last November. On the episode, Wyse's video for "Dear World" was played for members of the Wu-Tang Clan. The rap legends approved, and encouraged Wyse to push forward. "I didn't sit down trying to write something that you could just jump on and play in the club," Wyse said in-between bites of lemon pepper chicken wings. "I sat down and took my time to write it." Some rappers boast about not writing lyrics down, but Wyse prefers to craft verses through typing on his iPhone. Although he only started rapping seriously a few years ago, Wyse has improved with each release. His raw tales of Baltimore life could one day land him at a label, but Wyse seems fine with independence. More than anything, Wyse, who has yet to perform outside of Baltimore, wants to tour. But where? "Honestly, I don't care," Wyse said. "Wherever I go, there's people that didn't hear me [yet]. I want to let these people know who I am." -- Wesley Case
Algerina Perna / Baltimore Sun
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