When Andy Jones began freestyling in his dining room for fun over winter break, he never thought that killing boredom would turn into a new passion and a future career. Growing up in a large household full of music, Jones, 21, said that music has always been in his blood. Flash-forward to about a month later, when his freestyling composition had quickly turned into him writing, producing and engineering his first rap song, “The City,” entirely on his own. He quickly donned the name “Andy The Chef” and has been cookin’ ever since.
“There’s a little saying that I have where it says that everybody’s tryna eat, but nobody wants to cook,” Jones said. “If you want all this money, this success or whatever you want in life, you have to work for it.”
Being a rapper wasn’t always crystal clear for Jones, although music has always been a prominent element in his life. He is from Long Island, New York, but has lived in over 16 different cities across the United States, from Utah to Florida, before eventually settling in Shamokin, Pennsylvania. In elementary school, he began taking lessons for the viola and saxophone.
Jones continued to perform in both the band and orchestra throughout his high school career, and he eventually became the first-chair for saxophone, as well as his band’s drum major. While his musical background doesn’t necessarily fit the demographic of what listeners might imagine for a rapper, these classical instruments are where his passion for music blossomed.
Jones’ appetite for music was also fed at home, where he was the youngest of six siblings. He liked to tag along with his two brothers, who were interested in rap, and he soon began rapping and freestyling to hang out with his siblings, although he never recorded his early start to the rap game. “I wasn’t confident enough to start rapping,” Jones admitted. “I didn’t even like how my voice sounded on the microphone, didn’t think it sounded well at all.”
He was also interested in the production side of rap, as he taught himself how to make instrumentals on computer software and began to craft his beats. At the same time, he was still trying to figure out what to do with his future.
Jones is currently a student at Susquehanna University, located in Pennsylvania, where he designed his own major in music communications to pursue his passion. Susquehanna University does not offer a major in music production, so the university’s recording studio was practically deserted. He saw the empty playground as an opportunity and dove right in to making music, pulling countless all-nighters to create his new songs. Jones recalled that he used to party frequently with his friends on the weekends, an activity he has since stopped to devote more time working in the studio.
The most shocking element about Andy The Chef’s story is that his birth into the world of fame was relatively recent. Jones released “The City” on SoundCloud in January 2019. Since then, he has released two other singles, “Need It” and “The Hills,” both on May 2. He said he has found the thing that wakes him up in the morning and keeps him up late at night, and he’s completely addicted to it.
“It doesn’t feel like work at all in the least and that’s what everybody needs to find. If you feel like what you’re doing is work, find something else, because there’s so many things in the world right now that you can do,” he said. “Everybody has their thing, everybody has a light.”
Andy the Chef seems to seamlessly find his light through his songwriting, highlighting everything from sex and relationships to social issues. He points out that “The City” sounds like a very stereotypical, classic rap song with an inner city feel. As listeners dive further into the song’s lyrics, it’s clear that there is a conversation between him and his featured brother, Levi, and that the conversation is about a racist, predominantly white city.
The lyrics in the chorus, “Cause it’s killed or be killed in these streets round here” and “You would fear behind the wheel in these streets round here,” highlight the challenges that black men face in areas populated mostly by white people. Lyrics in the bridge depict a real issue for Levi and his relationship: “Wifey needs a vest / She has death threats in her DM’s” details how his white girlfriend gets harrassed within the city for being in an interracial relationship.
“You’re reaching people’s ears, you’re talking to people when you’re making music,” Jones said. “So you wanna say something that is meaningful even if it’s just a couple lines.”
With xylophones that give it a vibe similar to works by rapper Chiddy Bang, “Need It” definitely changes pace, with a more laidback flow and lighthearted beat. Andy the Chef didn’t hesitate to confirm that the song is about any man his age that is casually interested in sex. “I’m just singing a fun, vibey song about sex and relations,” he said.
The theme of sex and relationships goes a step further in “The Hills” by exploring a complicated friends-with-benefits relationship throughout the song. Jones talks about a girl that he is seeing but not fully interested in, only keeping her along because everyone else wants a chance with her.
Lyrics such as “I’m riding past my rivals/She wanna do the gang and I wanna do no titles” show the woman’s obvious interest in the getting everyone else’s attention, and her disinterest in a relationship with Jones. Andy the Chef takes listeners on the wild ride of his relationship, describing it with ups and downs, like a set of rolling hills: “It go up and down like a roller coaster/She’s gonna text me but I’m gonna ghost her/Paranoid so I got the toaster.” The toaster is a metaphor for Jones having to stay on his toes, since other men want a chance to date his girl.
In terms of inspiration for his music, Jones has his siblings to thank for exposing him to a multitude of artists while growing up. Born at the odd cusp between CD players and iPods, he relied on listening to his older siblings’ music favorites, which led him to discover 90’s R&B, early 2000’s hip hop, pop punk and even harder, angrier rap. He said that every sibling listened to something very different.
“I was soaking all of it in. I listen to everything and I think that’s what helped mold my sound,” he acknowledged.
This versatility, combined with a unique music background, has formed a very open platform for Andy The Chef. Jones recognized Drake as an example of the type of versatile artist he strives to be.
“He can do ‘One Dance’ or he can do ‘Work’ and every song is a hit. I wanna be open minded where I don’t have limits,” he said.
Jones continues to cook in the studio as he prepares some new music for his listeners, hinting at a new release coming soon.