Jamie Cheeseman is ready to turn the page of his calendar, he says.
Bring on 2016, says the Syracuse rapper who goes by Powder Jay. The controversy of 2015 took much out of him.
His depression started when he wrote and released a song about what he perceived as a snub by the judging panel of the Syracuse Area Music Awards for the best album of his career.
Cheeseman sent me a Facebook message wanting to talk about it as Sammys nominations for the 2016 awards shows are in the midst of being collected.
“I wrote a song,” Cheeseman said over the phone. “It was dark and provocative. For me, I solve my problems through my music. For me it was to get rid of the Sammys from my system, so I wouldn’t keep getting hurt and submitting and not winning. I wrote about it. And I caught a lot of bad words online.”
He says he fell into a depression.
“All I wanted to do was get people pissed off and get attention for it,” Cheeseman says. “And it blew up in my face.”
The background, he says, is that he was a devoted follower of Syracuse’s music awards show from into start in the early 1990s. In fact, his first four rap albums were all nominated in the best rap/hip-hop category, but did not win.
He went to those four ceremonies full of hope, accompanied by family and friends. “I’m not rich. Twenty bucks is a lot to me,” he says of the ticket price.
He entered his fifth album, Laptop Folk Rap, in the “other” category.
“The whole album was about civil rights. Gay rights. It was my best work, I thought,” he says.
It did not get nominated. He got riled.
“From the judges to the board members, they passed it off,” he says. “I never got any answers.”
He wrote a song that took issue with much.
“The biggest thing to me was the number of categories considered, he says. “People can work on two-hour movies, soundtracks, and not be considered. It wasn’t just about me. I took it for a cause,” Cheeseman says.
The bitter and angry song How Many Times was addressed online, and Cheeseman says he was ripped, and many of the comments were anonymous, adding to his depression.
He now feels badly that certain wordplay he says was misconstrued. For instance, he says that people thought he was angry about the Palace Theatre, when he was not.
“It was one of the most depressing times of my life, going through the this,” the resident of Liverpool says.
One friend who consoled him was Harper Hughes, from Alabama.
“In my darkest moment, he was there for me,” Cheeseman says.
Hughes was suffering from cancer. Cheeseman participated in a fund-raiser, a T-shirt drive. When Hughes was moved into hospice care in October, Cheeseman wrote a song for his friend. When he passed in December, Hughes’ family had the lyrics typed and displayed at his funeral.
Yes, Cheeseman says, he’s back into the swing of life. He worked on a movie. He’s into his collectors life, too, with the return of Star Wars and what he calls “nerd rap.”
“I had defiance. Anger. Depression. Now I’m musically getting back in place,” he says. “Peaceful and happy again. And creative.”
No, Cheeseman says, he won’t be submitting his latest album for Sammys consideration.
Here’s the YouTube video of Cheeseman’s song for Harper Hughes.
Here’s the YouTube version of his latest album, King James 2015.
Here’s Cheeseman’s movie.