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Oklahoma City rapper Jabee turns ugly memory into gold

Oklahoma City rapper Jabee, who performed three sets at this month's South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin, is celebrating the release of “Stephanie,” his new single produced by alternative hip-hop star El-P, with an all-ages show at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Conservatory, 8911 N Western.
BY GEORGE LANG Modified: March 21, 2013 at 4:26 pm •  Published: March 22, 2013

/articleid/3768177/1/pictures/1987264">Photo - Oklahoma City rapper Jabee. PHOTO PROVIDED <strong>unknown</strong>
Oklahoma City rapper Jabee. PHOTO PROVIDED unknown

El-P sent Jabee a backing track he created during sessions for Killer Mike's acclaimed 2012 album, “R.A.P. Music,” but had ultimately set aside.

In turn, Jabee asked his friend, North Carolina-based soul singer Carlitta Durand, to write a chorus for the song.

“She wrote an amazing hook,” Jabee said. “I sent El-P the vocals for that, and he changed it all — he made it a real song and went over and above what I asked. He mixed it and mastered it for me, a kid from Oklahoma City.”

El-P suggested that he rename the song “Stephanie,” which helped give the song more emotional resonance for Jabee. Then, Jabee found a way to use the Steven Jones-directed video, which included a bullying scene, to do some good for current 11-year-olds facing difficult social situations. After Taft Middle School teacher Emily Ray saw the video, she invited Jabee to speak at a March 8 school assembly.

Jabee talked to the Taft students about the many forms that bullying can take and how to deal with the issue.

Nowadays, the bad memories and big dreams of Jabee's childhood are coming together, thanks to El-P and the growing buzz around “Stephanie.”

“I'm just trying to work hard and be good at this rap thing,” Jabee said. “But I'm living my dream now. My dream, as a 15-year-old kid, was to work with El-P.”

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