Rapper Jay graduates onto music’s main stage


James Jaskolka, Assistant Online Editor

Zack Wirth, better known by his stage name “Jay,” has never been one to follow the crowd. Between little-league and cartoon time, a young Jay Wirth was often found scribbling journal entries and honing his writing skills.
While his classmates spent their summer working part-time jobs and dreading senior year, Wirth was living his dream and opening up for hip-hop all-stars like Mac Miller and Mobb Deep.
“This summer was extremely productive,” Wirth said of his recent success. “Not many 17-year-old kids could put that on their résumé, and I’m proud to say the least. The feeling of being on that stage was surreal, and I can’t wait to get another chance.”
Wirth, who hails from Hawley, a small town just outside Scranton, developed an interest in writing and the hip-hop culture at an early age. By the time he was 13 he had merged his love of both.
Originally just making acapella videos in his basement, Wirth began to pour all of his time and energy into writing, recording and performing his music, determined not to stop until he was appreciated. Locally, he was well-received early on.
“It started off with close friends and then spread entirely throughout northeast Pennsylvania,” Wirth said. “I love and acknowledge everyone who appreciates what I do.”
Wirth has released more than 50 tracks and four EPs since his start four years ago:  ” and “Spiral Staircase”, the latter of which was released on Sept. 1.
“Each project I work on, I approach it with the mindset that it has to outshine and one-up the project I most recently put out,” Wirth said. “If you listen to each of my EP’s you’ll start to see the music as a whole evolve and grow.”
Between his work ethic and his success, Wirth quickly became the outlet for jealousy of other local rappers – a struggle Wirth had no problem overcoming as he continued to push himself further into the limelight.
So what sets Wirth apart from them?
“If you come back a second, third, or even 10th time to re-listen, you’re going to pick up on lines you had no idea were there or [thought] had any specific meaning behind them,” he said. “A lot of my lyrics are overlooked and hard to pick up on if you’re not an avid fan of hip-hop and lyricism. I try to pack as many references and metaphors into a track as I possibly can.”
His lyrical subtleties do not go unnoticed, however; recently, Wirth began travelling to New York to participate in high-profile battles for a league affiliated with Ultimate Rap League, one of the largest international battle leagues in the world.
“It wasn’t easy being a white kid from the sticks of PA walking into a battle scene in the middle of Manhattan and saying extremely disrespectful things to a grown man in front of a crowd of strangers,” he laughs. “But I’m starting to build a reputation, and I do plan on continuing to battle on the side.”
While Wirth has high hopes for his future, which include plans to battle as far as Toronto and attend college in the city, right now he says he just plans on finishing high school on a positive note.
“I’m really curious to find out how far I can run with this,” Wirth says. “Let’s see what happens.”
You can check out Wirth’s music and download it for free at itsjaymusic.bandcamp.com.