Jharrel Jerome generated a hefty buzz around his performance in the Netflix drama When They See Us last year. Now, he’s looking to spin that buzz into enthusiasm for his other artistic pursuits — namely, rap. Today he shares his first video, “For Real,” which finds him ruminating on the cost of his newfound fame. While he laments the demands of being an in-demand actor, he also demands respect as a musician, firing off rhymes at a rapid-fire clip over a beat with a soulful sample composed by Take A Daytrip, best known for working with Sheck Wes, Lil Nas X, and The Scotts.
“Tell me which Range I should cop,” Jerome challenges on the song’s defiant chorus. “Tell me whose booze I should grab / Tell me whose name should I drop / I’ma just do what you ask.” However, he denies being “here to be the coolest,” focusing instead on being true to himself. Meanwhile, guest rapper Kemba points out the problem with modern celebrity culture on his verse, charging “n****s that get their ideas off IG / Whole personality’s Twitter / I just see copies of copies.”
As far as first singles go, it isn’t bad and warrants any future attention given to Jharrel Jerome, both as an actor and as a rapper. Fortunately for him, he can justify the career move as he joins the list of other professional entertainers moonlighting in hip-hop — a list that includes NBA players like Damian Lillard and fellow actor Riz Ahmed. “Long before I became an actor, hip hop was my first love,” he explained in a statement. “I was the one spitting off the top at the lunch table in the sixth grade. If there was a freestyle cypher happening at the park, I was there.”
Watch Jharrel Jerome’s “For Real” video above.