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West Dayton Stories is a community-based story-telling project centered on the people and places of Dayton’s vibrant west side. WYSO brings together community producers to tell stories reflecting its proud history, current complexities, and future hopes.

West Dayton Stories: Balancing Family, Business, and Personal Lifestyles During COVID

Love'Yah Stewart

Jaylon Yates is a self-made boss. That’s how he got his stage name, SMB Jay. Even in the best of times, he’s got to keep a lot of balls in the air, let alone during a pandemic. Here is his COVID commentary:

In November 2019, I released a music project titled Co-Creator. I spent maybe a year and a half preparing for its release. I had a career year. I had created a lot of momentum, landing placement for my clothing designs at a local store, being out in the community connecting with the people, and opening for a Detroit artist whose career is pretty solid. After the release, I kept the momentum going, performing as much as I could until the end of January.

Being an entrepreneur really has its challenges. On a daily basis, my tasks range from balancing family, business, and personal lifestyles. Sometimes you can lose track. Fresh into February there’s conversations about a Pandemic. At first, I didn't think much of it, because in my lifetime we’ve never experienced anything like it. But then things changed. The project wasn’t doing what I’d expected, considering the amount of work I put into it, and then everything was beginning to shut down. During that time I caught myself juggling too many things at once: interning at City Hall, managing my branding, and marketing myself. Knowing my plate is already full, I pushed forward anyway. Then came the shutdown.

Everything was at a standstill. For the first time, I think, in anyone’s lifetime, the world was on pause. Time’s passing, but everyone can finally get a break, feels like. I tried to keep my motivation through quarantine, but by the end of it I had completely let all momentum die out, not even being active with my market. I didn’t let the whole quarantine go to waste, though. I feel I learned a little more about myself and the people I allowed around me and my personal energy.

But then, my mom caught COVID. Normally I’m cool, calm, and collected, but I know my mom could tell I was worried. But through prayer, faith, and a lot of anxiety, she made it through with no symptoms other than head congestion. All you can do in times like these is thank God.

West Dayton Stories is produced by Jocelyn Robinson at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices and is supported by CityWide Development Corporation.

Jaylon Yates, AKA Smb Jay is a Dayton, Ohio native who introduced himself to the music world with his first mixtape Tune Into Greatness, featuring songs like Paradise, Too Major, and Alize’. Jay got into music after observing his older family member Trailz, also a hip-hop artist. In December of 2016 Jay started his own record label Selfmade Boss Records LLC (SMB), and he later added the acronyms to his stage name.
Jocelyn Robinson is a Yellow Springs, OH-based educator, media producer, and radio preservationist.