Jacob Didas: “The Dark, with The Light”
“What happens when you combine the dark with the light?” Twista and Young Buk of Psycho Drama in unison on Twista’s “Adrenaline Rush”, Adrenaline Rush, 1996.
Very little about Jacob Didas is conventional. He’s a rapper who’s got a great voice as a singer. He’s a pianist who might be better known for putting it down on his production. He’s a self-proclaimed free spirit who’s prone to go with the flow, yet he spent the better part of his music career within the confines of Uncle Sam’s armed forces. He’s a nurse by trade, yet is adept at financial trading—so much so, in fact, that it helped him put together a tidy little sum, at one point. Understand? His last release came out a few years back, and he’s still not done promoting it.
However, the greatest quasi-paradox the musician likely put together has everything to do with one of the most well known emcees to ever hit a flow coming from that notoriously windy city in Illinois. As a novice, someone who had never even written a rhyme before, Didas chose Twista—he who’s likely still in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most celeritous emcee—for inspiration and, in part, to emulate.
“I’ve always been a big fan of guys like—I love the speed rap—Twista,” Didas confessed. “He kind of was my favorite artist growing up. I kind of started off writing first. I would write these raps that were very fast and were so fast I wasn’t even able to do them. I could understand it in my head, but when I actually sat down to record them there was like, no way I can do this. It became fun just to learn my own limits.”
The emcee learned them so well that he’s put out an album (Lucid, 2016) and a pair of EPs, All Things Considered (2018) and Rise (2019). The first two were written, recorded, and published while he was enlisted in the U.S. Army (in Hawaii, of all places), where he worked as a nurse.
“It was kind of a gift and a curse,” Didas reflected about his lyrical penchants. “I wanted to go that route and it didn’t connect with a lot of people and I was always kind of trying to stay true to myself and be able to keep putting out material that was in that direction.”
“I’m bringing pain like two bad nurses/feel the pain from these here motherf*ckin’ verses” Young Buk of Psycho Drama on Twista’s “Adrenaline Rush”, Adrenaline Rush, 1996
In the approximately three years time since he dropped Rise to now, Didas hasn’t published any additional music. He kept himself busy, mind you, doing what he called “live looping” for internet audiences and, perhaps, the occasional live performance in a physical venue. But the music largely got away from him, his career almost halted due to the vicissitudes of, well, life itself.
“My wife was pregnant at the time,” Didas recounted about this juncture. “I was kind of hoping things would move faster with music. I was also into trading, stock market kind of stuff, and everything was kind of all falling through. It was a really challenging period. I got pretty jaded with it, but I still love it, so I kept doing the improvising and still developing the craft, but not really formally recording anything.”
However, he was able to take some time out to resume his academic career. He’s currently studying to be a nurse practitioner, although he had previously earned a degree in nursing courtesy of a full scholarship from the Army, subsequent to graduating high school. His specialization will be in psychiatry, which is perhaps fitting due to some of the other issues contributing to his layoff.
“It’s pretty subjective, but it was pretty dark, because it was a lot of things,” he said candidly. “It wasn’t just the music. There was stuff with addiction, and that had a lot to do with trading, to be honest.”
However, his desire for the microphone, and for his lush production infused by the piano he predominantly learned to play by ear during his childhood and adolescence in Buffalo, New York, eventually won out. The artist is currently looking forward to continuing to produce music while forming sonic pastiches from any number of genres.
“I can tell it’s heating up a little bit,” he mentioned about his desire to resume his career. “Before, with the music, I was always making it for myself and it was always very eclectic and experimental. I guess moving forward I want to find the middle ground between making it for [me and] others. Something that’s a little more feel good and upbeat, and can still share a message. But also, still be a little weird and reflect my style.”