Jacky Boy became a battle rapper through social media. He had already been building his rep as an emcee since 1998 with his group Underworld Nation, but years later he found out that making Instagram videos of himself trading rap battles reached a new and wider audience.
Originally, he was Robert Pruitt; the stage name is an ode to his mother, Jacky. “Everybody knew her in the Fourth Ward, and that’s how the name stuck with me. I always wanted my rap name to be me, something that fit me and was me,” he says.
Then he got Paul Wall, a Fourth Ward friend, to co-sign and his battle rap career took off. It wasn’t before long that he was taking the stage in one of Houston’s premiere rap contests known as Houston Bar Code.
“I’ve been battling almost 3 years. That’s just something I picked up and taught myself how to do,” he says.
Jacky Boy learned to craft battle rhymes watching rap contests online through Smack DVD battles. But he says it was a friend and fellow battler named Skillet who really helped him hone his verbal attacks.
“We always watched Smack, but he was just always more into it,” says Jacky Boy. “So one day on an Instagram page we just started battling and making rhymes, but we were just typing it to each other. I thought it in my head that instead of writing it, let’s record it. Let me talk about you and you just come back and talk about me.”
What followed was an Instagram page dedicated to Jacky Boy’s battles and that’s when Paul Wall mentioned him on social media. “I got like a thousand followers just from him shouting it out,” Jacky Boy says.
But it was soon after that Paul Wall co-sign that Jacky Boy ran into battle rap entrepreneur and Houston champion battler Scotty Raps, who gave him a flyer to a contest. “He ended up booking me and that’s what started me battling,” he says.
Before that, Jacky Boy had only seen guys like Scotty, who runs the Houston’s Bar Code battle rap contest, ply their trade online. One of the reasons for starting his Instagram battles was so that eventually he could make it on stage himself. “I didn’t know battle rap even existed in Houston before that,” he remembers.
Since then, Jacky Boy has been a winning battle rapper, earning $500 per victory. Sponsorship money he says has come from battle rap promoters like Rare Breed Entertainment, which is associated with the southern battle rap scene.
At the moment, after appearing in about a half-dozen Houston rap battles, Jacky Boy is focusing on other aspects of his rap skills, returning to writing verses and making songs. He newest album is a mixtape called My Drugs and My Music, which he’s releasing independently. He won’t be battling at this weekend Bar Code rap battle in North Houston, instead he’ll be showcasing cuts from his album, including the song “O-Dawg,” a single he released earlier this year.
Barcode Ova Bullshit, Saturday, July 22, 8 p.m. Chymistry Lounge and Bar, 1002 Almeda-Genoa Rd. More info via Instagram @houstonbarcode.