Making music to make a difference

Justin Elliott, 16, and Caleb Smith, 24, want to spread positive messages with their music.

Two Bonteheuwel youths want to use their music to spread positive messages to other young people.

Justin Elliott, 16, and Caleb Smith, 24, known as Jay-Jay and CJ, started their collaboration two years ago, when they discovered they both share a passion for music – especially hip hop and rhythm and blues (R&B).

They made their first public appearance at Modderdam High School’s Book Fair in May, but they have already uploaded many videos on their YouTube channel.

Caleb has been writing music since high school.

“It was something I did as a hobby, but it eventually became a passion of mine. I met Justin in 2020 and he was doing the same thing – playing beats and rapping – and I asked him if we could collaborate,” Caleb said.

Both agree that getting their positive messages across through their music is the ultimate goal.

“Many people might think we want to make a name for ourselves because we want fame or money, but, for us, it’s more about getting the message across – giving positive messages and making a positive impact on others,” Justin said.

Their music represents what they experience or observe in the community. This is their inspiration, they said.

Said Caleb: “People sometimes don’t have the tools to carry themselves through challenging situations, then they turn to drugs or gangsterism. We write about what we see in the community. I am sure others can relate, and they will realise that they are not alone in their struggle – that somebody understands what they are going through.”

One of their songs, You Are a Blessing, is aimed at girls and women.

“This song came about when we were just freestyling last year. When we listened to it again, we realised that this message must be spread. It is about gender-based violence (GBV), and girls and women are the ones mostly affected by GBV. We want them to know that they are a blessing and not a curse,” Justin said.

Caleb said their dream is to make a difference in at least one person’s life and have this positivity spread to others as well.

They have posted their music on Instagram, SoundCloud and elsewhere online.