These past few years, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to have met many amazing youth who plan to make a difference in the world – similar to my own hopes and dreams. Being involved with a great deal of charity and humanitarian work has its perks because you get to hear the amazing stories about other people; stories that you will never forget because they inspire you that much. On April 17, I had the opportunity to go to a conference in my hometown of Mississauga, Ont., called Count Me In Conference. The entire Living Arts Centre was filled with hundreds of young adults hoping to make a change in the world.
During the conference, I was fortunate enough to meet Jake Zeldin – a 14 year old rap artist who is taking the world by storm. Zeldin, also known by his stage name Lil JaXe, is not the average rapper because he deals with a speech impediment that makes every sentence a constant struggle. However, a speech impediment will not stop him from reaching his dreams of being a rap artist – once he picks up a microphone and the words start flowing, everything changes. Jake no longer has a speech impediment when he begins to rap – it was the biggest shock to me because I had never heard of anything like it. During my brief interview with Lil JaXe, I had the opportunity to dig deeper into the personal life of the Toronto native and his story will shock and amaze you.
“Living with a speech impediment has been hard because I was picked on by not only students – but teachers as well,” Zeldin explained when I asked how hard it is to live with a speech problem. It is very unfortunate to know that teachers and students would single someone out simply because they are different from everyone else; but Jake never let bullying get to his head – instead he used it as motivation.
“Rap is like my second language,” Lil JaXe said as he described his passion and dedication to rapping. Though others never thought that Lil JaXe would ever speak, JaXe has rapped for some of the biggest artists in the rap business: including Drake. Rap became more than just a few lyrics to Jake; it became a way to express himself. Jake is individual who has chosen to use his voice to speak up for other youth who face similar issues.
“We are who we are and we can’t let one small thing like a stutter get in between our dreams.”
This response that Jake Zeldin gave me when I asked what he wanted to tell the world blew me away. I never could have imagined hearing such an inspiring thing from someone of such a young age. Lil JaXe has proven to the world that he is just a kid with a dream, like every other kid. Lil JaXe is leaving his legacy around the GTA by sharing his story with anyone who is willing to lend an ear – performing at events such as We Day and at local concerts in Yonge-Dundas Square. Jake’s story has been shared across the country after being featured on CTV News and after his freestyle to Canadian rapper Drake went viral.
Lil JaXe truly is an inspiration to us all and is definitely going to change the rap game very soon!