How Miami Rapper Jean Jume Went From Balling to Rhyming


Today when an individual wants to reach a goal the norm for some is to go all out and do whatever is necessary to reach the end goal. But what happens when going all out doesn’t work for the individual? What’s next? It’s known for some individuals to put all their eggs in one basket and not know what’s next for them when Plan A doesn’t work out. Fortunately, for up-and-coming Miami rapper Jean Jume this was not the case. When making the roster for a professional basketball team did not work, Jean Jume did not fret. He just woke up from sleeping one day and decided to give rapping a shot.

“I just woke up one day and I was like — let me just do it,” said Jume. “I’ve always been writing, but I never really recorded myself. I’m very into poetry as well — writing and expressing myself through poetry was just the beginning.”

Before starting his rapping career, Jume was known to many on the basketball court as Jumaoke Smith. At 6’5, Jume played guard for the Johnson & Wales University-North Miami Wildcats from 2012 through 2016. During his time at JWU, the rapper made several feats such as: making the JWU Cup All-Tournament Team his freshman year, leading his team in three pointers his junior year, helping his team make NAIA Division – II  TSC (The Sun Conference) Tournament appearances four years in a row, and finishing his collegiate career with 973 total points. In his junior and senior year, Jume also participated in the Miami Pro League (a Pro AM basketball league).

Johnson and Wales-North Miami Guard Jumaoke Smith handles the basketball as he faces two opponents from Northwood University (now known as Keiser University) Saturday, January 31, 2015, inside the Countess de Hoernle Student Life Center in West Palm Beach, FL. (Photo by Suyin Rose/Johnson & Wales-North Miami Athletics)

After his collegiate career, Jume wanted to play basketball at the professional level. However, he did not get drafted or signed by a team. Although he was a free agent, the obstacle did not stop the Miami native from going after a goal he had since he was a child.

Reflecting on his love for the game, Jume reminisced on how he was introduced to the sport and the mindset he had when playing:

“Basketball was [Jume’s voice trailed off as he reflected] — basketball was my first love honestly. I was introduced to basketball by my older brother and uh — at a young age too [Jume sounded surprised as he reflected on how young he was when he started playing]. … with me I don’t ever feel like — like [Jume stopped and gathered his thoughts] — if I’m applying myself to something — I’m going to try to be the best at it and be as good as I can. The first time I touched a basketball I was like — might as well do it and see where it takes me.”

Determined and having the belief he could play at the professional level, Jume participated in the Eurobasket Summer League in Atlanta, GA during 2016. During his showcase with the league, Jume recalls being one of the top players there and receiving Eurobasket Summer League 1st Team honors. The then-hooper also remembers not getting any call-backs either. Unwilling to give up, Jume tried out for another exposure camp in Las Vegas.

“Me being the fighter and ambitious as I am — I was like — I’m going to do this again because I was that close,” said Jume.

After the exposure camp in Las Vegas, Jume was still unable to sign with a professional team. Since then Jume has sat back and reflected on his experiences of trying to go pro. During this time, he has also learned two things about himself such as: how much patience he has and how strong he can be. Admitting to feeling somewhat broken when he did not reach his goal, Jume pointed out it did not kill him.

In addition to being patient and strong, Jume was also able to find out how easy rhyming behind a mic came to him. While recuperating from the hurt of not playing professional basketball, Jume decided to take his hobby for writing poetry and writing lyrics seriously. On the day he decided to give rapping a shot, Jume walked up to one of his co-workers who he heard rapped and asked if he knew of any studios around the area. As fate would have it, his co-worker who goes by the name Elder K said yes and that he was going to one after work. Already having lyrics for a song (Ridin’ Round), Jume tagged along with his co-worker to the studio. Once in the studio Jume felt comfortable enough to rhyme behind the mic for the first time. Afterwards, he was met with the same question by everyone: “Is this really your first time in the studio?”.

“Once I was able to get into a studio and record myself and hear how I sound and become as creative as possible – it was super dope to me,” said Jume. “Ever since then I just stuck with it and took off.”

Unable to play ball at the level he wanted to Jume stated that making music has been therapeutic for him. It has helped him to get his mind off things he has no control of.

When asked how he was introduced to music, the 6’5 rapper mentioned his father. He remembered growing up in a house with stereos that constantly played jazz, reggae, and music by Erykah Badu and Michael Jackson. Jume also credited his father for introducing him to the work of one of his idols, Maya Angelou.

As a child, Jume recalled his father giving him books to read and one book he had to read was Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Moved by the book, Jume did his own research to learn more about her.

When making music, Jume credited Angelou, artist Jean Michel Basquiat, and singer/dancer Michael Jackson as figures who influenced him on how he wants his music to reach his audience. Each individual had a distinct way in making an impact in their field and the world.

In the short span of being a rapper, the tall rapper has nine songs in his catalog (which can be found on his Soundcloud account) and is working on a new project. He plans to call it Mellow Yellow and use the project as a portfolio to show off his range of rapping.

While creating music, Jume also mentioned he is in the process of creating a movement called Uncaged Birds. The movement’s goal is to support and shed light on artists and athletes who are less fortunate than others. Through his movement and the knowledge he gained while getting a Bachelor’s degree in sports entertainment, Jume plans to open a camp which provides training and skill development for athletes.

“The movement is for anyone that’s less fortunate than others or don’t have the opportunity or same connects as others. I want to be able to shed light on dope creativity, dope athletes, and dope musicians. I want to be able to bring everyone together and support everyone’s hustle and grind.” – Jean Jume

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