Local Ypsilanti rapper, KidJay (Jason O’Banner Jr.), auditioned his song “Golden Child” on America’s Got Talent (AGT) Season 16. The episode he was in, episode eight, aired on NBC Tuesday, July 20.
KidJay began his music career at an early age of 15 years old in his hometown Ypsilanti, Michigan. With the support of friends, family, and the local community, his talent and music began to gain attention while putting on his own talent show at his school, which were the first stages of beginning his own career.
KidJay writes his own music, and it is written so people of all ages can enjoy it -- free of swear words.
“I make music that is not as inappropriate as other hip-hop music nowadays because it has so much negativity on it,” KidJay said. “I just wanted to preach to the youth that you don’t have to follow a stereotype and that it is OK to be different because if anything, it makes you special.”
“At 17, I got my first television appearance on Channel 62,” KidJay said. “After I did that, I won a radio contest...The prize for the radio contest for the best song that was submitted was opening for Bow Wow and Jermaine Dupri.”
KidJay shared that he is inspired by his family as they are his support system through his whole journey as an artist.
“Jay has worked so very hard to get where he is, and I credit him for his hard work and dedication,” said Jason O’Banner Sr., KidJay’s father and manager. “His progression has been amazing. He can write a song in minutes, so at times he amazes me.”
O’Banner Sr. mentioned that they have big things planned for KidJay’s journey and that he [KidJay] is a role model for the youth.
Time on AGT
KidJay previously auditioned for AGT at the formerly known as the Cobo Center (now known as TCF Center) and did not make it further in the competition past the initial audition.
“I was 16 years old, and I was nowhere near where I am now, but it killed my confidence for a bit,” KidJay said.
He also shared that he was a part of season 15 during one of their questionnaires from the audience in between the episode.
“Around last year, I was on season 15 of AGT, and they were doing questions over Zoom for the judges and my question was to ask Terry Crews about his pec popping on his chest,” KidJay said. “Which was crazy because Terry Crews already knew who I was from my song with the Detroit Youth Choir.”
Season 16 was KidJay’s opportunity to perform in front of judges Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Simon Cowell, and Sofia Vergara.
KidJay and O’Banner Sr. flew out to California together for the audition and had a great experience.
“We had a lot of fun and laughs while down there,” O’Banner Sr. said.
When it was time for the performance, KidJay shared that he was very nervous but ready.
KidJay’s story described how thankful he is for his family and their support. Before his performance, Cowell asked KidJay, “What brought you to AGT?” KidJay responded, “To give back to my family for all of the sacrifices they’ve made for me.”
Vergara, Mandel, Klum, and Crews clapped along to his performance of “Golden Child.” During it, KidJay noticed that Cowell needed encouragement to clap along. KidJay then added, “Simon” in front of his verse “don't you know that I’m the golden child” which made Cowell laugh and smile.
When KidJay saw Cowell smile, he shared that was the moment when he knew “I’ve got this.”
Feedback from the judges was all positive as they enjoyed KidJay’s story and his performance. KidJay received 4 “yes”s and is moving on in the competition. “You had a real positive message that comes from your heart. I loved it,” Mandel said.
Tune in to NBC when AGT returns on August 10 at 8/7c to watch the live shows. For more information/updates on KidJay and his music, visit his Instagram page.