Growing up was hard for Jake Zeldin. His stutter was really severe; his colleagues made fun of him, his teachers made fun of him, everything seemed to work against him. But Jake didn’t let that get to him, and after one life changing summer at a sleepaway camp, Jake found a side of him that no one could guess existed: he found that he can rap.
At a first glance, he may look like any other teenager, but Jake is different in at least 2 ways from your average 14 year old boy: he stutters, and he raps. Contradictory? Not at all.
“When I was 10, I went away for the summer to overnight camp and, while I was there, the camp had a rap battle. I was always interested in music and thought I would try it out. The words just started flowing out of my mouth, and I could not believe what was going on.”
Jake, now known as Lil Jaxe (find his facebook here) can rap; he can freestyle, improvise, and he does it all with flow and swag. But Jake has a hard time telling you his name and where he’s from. How can this be? Scientists don’t really know (surprisingly for me, stuttering is not really that well understood), but one thing’s for sure: Lil JaXe has become an inspiration for the over 3 million people in the US who suffer from a similar condition.
To top it off, a year ago, he managed to accomplish one of his biggest dreams, meeting his idols, going on stage with the likes of Kanye West, Jay Z and Elton John.
“Every chance I got, I tried to get in front of the right people to show them my talent. When you finally find your voice, you can’t wait to use it. I’ve always had so much to say, but now that I found the way to share my mind and let the words flow, I wanted the whole world to hear me. The more people doubted me and teased me, the more it pushed me to try harder and harder to get noticed.”
Now I have to say, I’m impressed. Not at the fact that he’s really good – to me, that comes in second place. He may, or may not be the next Eminem. He may end up on stage for the rest of his life, or one day, he may quit music. But here, this is somebody who looked life in the eyes, faced all the odds that were against him, and came on top; it’s like breaking your legs, then running the marathon – it doesn’t really matter if you win the marathon, just the fact that you were there, is incredible. This being said, I hope we can all learn from Jake Zeldin – and as for Lil JaXe – I hope he’s here to stay and delight us for years to come.