Punchline Prose: Meet Minnesota Rap’s Hardest Working Wordsmith


They say every comedian wants to be a rapper and every rapper wants to be a comedian; if that’s true, then nobody in the Twin Cities tows the line better than Jake Giller.


At just 24 years old, Giller has cut through the current of the Minneapolis Hip-Hop tidal wave like a slick-rapping swordfish, with six albums, dozens of collaborations, and over a hundred tracks under his belt.


But what’s all this hard work and dedication led to? Nothing short of a partnership with WaterWaveTV, countless live performances, and most recently, a Headlining gig at a fully booked First Avenue; not bad for a kid who didn’t pay attention in math class...


It’s crazy to think that the same kid who gave up rapping in third grade when his mom found a song he scribbled in a notebook is now headlining sold out shows at Minnesota’s premier music venue.


Nonetheless, that same underdog mentality is what makes Giller so unique: He’s relatable, goofy, sincere, and above all else: He can spit.


Jake Giller "Will Ferrell" (Official Music Video)


When I first met Giller at a show at the Pourhouse this past April, I remember thinking he was just another fan like myself as he stood by the stage, watching the performers warm up with an earnest smile on his face.


When I first approached him, I was immediately disarmed by his genuine demeanor.


“So, how long have you been a fan of Hip-Hop?” I asked him.


“You’ll see in about 30 minutes…” he told me.


Umm, what?


I guess manners can be deceiving…


Sure enough, half an hour later, the emcee called on none other than Giller, who exploded onto the stage, zipping back and forth across the platform like a track star; the crowd couldn’t seem to get enough, reaching a fever pitch as Giller’s signature physicality spurred the energy of the Pourhouse into a frenzy.


I knew right then that this was someone who was born to perform; an artist who, though he appreciates the craft of poetry, understands the true essence of a great performance: Give the people a show.


Whether it’s cracking jokes in the back of his high school history class, donning a full chef’s outfit for a music video, or amping up a crowd with his signature flair, Giller is a showman in his purest form.



(Youtube: WaterWaveTV), December 1st, 2020.


But I’m not the only one who's taken notice, as local stars Minneapolis Drew and Nur-D, two of the cities’ premier Hip-Hop personalities, pushed for Giller to headline as far back as before you had to wear a mask at the gas station.


For obvious reasons, there was a slight delay on that; nonetheless, the fast-rising wordsmith has finally been given his opportunity; an opportunity that he’s been hungry for since he was penning rhymes in the back of history class…


Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Jake Giller…



Congratulations on your first ever headlining gig. Tell me, how did this opportunity come to be?


So it all started 2 years ago: I went to a show hosted by Nur-D and Minneapolis Drew. As an artist in Minnesota, First Ave is the spot you have to hit; It’s a venue you set your sights on from the get-go. I remember after the show, I was networking like crazy, just going around, chopping it up with as many new faces as I could because I understood that people are the whole game. When I finally bumped into Drew, I went up, introduced myself, and let him know what I was about. We exchanged info and went our separate ways. After that, I just kept at it; recording every day, performing at all sorts of venues, you name it. What most people don’t know actually is that this whole headlining thing was supposed to happen over a year ago! Obviously, there was a delay in the form of a pandemic, but it never shook my vision. Fast forward to a few months ago, Drew hits me up again: ‘Let’s give that another try’. Best believe I was ready. Now I’m here...


What does it feel like to look at that poster and see your name under the word ‘Headliner’?


It means a lot to me, just the work I’ve put in to get to this point. That being said, I try not to let it get to me. 10 years from now, when I get to the level I want to be, I’m going to look back on this opportunity as a huge landmark in my career; but in the meantime, it hasn’t really hit me yet. If you think about it too much, it throws you off; I’m sure on the day of the show, it’ll sink in. Regardless, I’m really just taking it one day at a time; I'm just sticking to the same mindset that’s taken me this far.


Talk about the period in your life where you first started making music? Was it spontaneous or planned out?


So I started making music in my senior year of high school in 2014. Growing up, my parents played everything: Michael Jackson, Prince, E40, West/East coast Hip-Hop, you name it; music was always a part of my life. I’ll never forget when I was in third grade and my mom found a song that I had written: I was so embarrassed that I actually gave up music for a while. Fast forward to high school: I’m in my buddy’s basement with some friends on a Friday night. At one point we were all standing in a circle, we’re feeling good, when all of a sudden my homies just started freestyling. I remember it like it was yesterday: I’m leaning against the pool table, they’re all going around the circle spitting rhymes, meanwhile I’m telling myself in my head, “Oh my god I’m really gonna do this”...I was so nervous that I was literally shaking; when it finally got to me, I just let it fly...That sh*t was TRASH though! But I’ll never forget the rush I got from it; I’d never felt anything like that before.


So what changed for you after that experience?


After that, I’d spend all of class just listening to music; Logic and Mac Miller were big for me around that time. Not long after, I fell in love with writing music, so much so that I lost touch with a lot of the people I grew up with; I was just in my own zone. After high school, I ended up going to college in Mankato for about 2 weeks before going home; I just wasn’t feeling it. I vividly remember sitting in the parking lot before my 8 A.M. class like ‘Damn, I really don’t wanna be here”. Instead, I’d just go to my friend’s house who had a studio where we’d record music all the time. Because of that, I ended up getting academically suspended. At that point, I was just like, ‘You know what? School’s not for me.’ It was simple: I had found what I truly loved to do; I haven’t looked back since.


Growing up, how did your love of Hip-Hop manifest before you started making music? What were the signs?


Growing up, Hip-Hop and rap were all my parents played. As I matured on my own, I found artists that I really loved; Mac Miller, Kendrick Lamar, Dizzy Wright to name a few. The thing that really hooked me about rap was the use of double meanings in the lyrics: One of my favorite things, to this day, is when you’re listening to a track that you’ve known for years, but you hear it with fresh ears and you catch a bar that you missed before. Hip Hop’s really unique in that way in that you can put so much meaning into the lyrics in such a unique, economic sort of way. You get a rush like ‘Oh my god, that’s what they meant?’ It’s a very unique structure. You say one thing, but it can mean multiple things; that’s always spoken to me for some reason.


When did you first come into contact with WaterWave? How did that partnership come about?


It all started in 2017. I was living in Mankato at the time, and this guy named Eric hit me up like, ‘Hey, I know who you are. A group of my friends are creating a brand called Water Wave’. Right then and there, he told me that he’d love to manage me. I’m like ‘Sh**, okay!’. Next thing I know, we did an interview; I remember the conversation being so fluid, the vibe was undeniable. Those three: Eric, Vino, and Reese started everything and they’re the reason I got on board. The rest is history.



What did WaterWave’s partnership mean to you?


The thing you have to understand about WaterWave is that it’s really just a family; They’re my brothers. They’re support changed everything for me. They made me a better artist, more importantly, a better person. To be surrounded by a group of young, hungry, like-minded artists who push each other to be their very best is an incredible blessing. Like I said, that connection changed everything.



(Instagram: itsjakegiller) July 12, 2020.


Was there a specific project that first inspired you to create?


Definitely ‘Take Care’ by Drake and ‘K.I.D.S.’ by Mac Miller. I’ll never forget when I first heard ‘Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza’, I wasn’t even in the room but I literally tracked it down to the other room and saw the video. There was just something about it that resonated with me; I knew right then and there that that was the type of vibe I wanted my music to have.


Q: What’s an underrated songwriting tip that most beginners tend to overlook?


A: I think of music like a wave, the best artists know that when you hear a beat that you like, instead of trying to take it over and control it, you ride with it, surf on it, you become one with the track; the music will always tell you what it needs, you just have to listen; Music should never be forced. When I started making music, I’d try to get my point across so hard to the point that I had absolutely no flow. I just had to simplify it; It’s about letting the music breathe!

Q: Take me through the process from when you first hear the instrumental to the finished product: What does that look like from a songwriting perspective?


A: When I first hear the beat, I always start by sounding it out. I think of a flow like a wave in that you wanna surf on the beat. You just have to find the pockets in that instrumental. Basically, I hear a certain count, and I start sounding out how I want my syllables to sound, the spaces between kicks, counts, etc. Once I find that, everything else falls into place.


Q: What’s your most obscure influence?


A: I’d have to say Green Day. The song ‘21 Guns’ to be specific. I don’t know why, but that song just did it for me. I was into punk for a year or two when I was a teenager. I know it may seem weird because of my current tastes, but it resonated with me like crazy for some reason. Shoutout Green Day(laughs).


Q: Is there any track in particular that you feel really marked your growth as an artist?


A: The song ‘Myself’ on my project ‘Sincerely Yours’. That’s a track where when I made it, I was like, ‘Damn, I might've done something here’.


Myself by Jake Giller


On the topic of hooks and verses, which comes more naturally to you?


The hook for sure. When you look at how rap songs are structured, you’re looking at either a 16-bar verse as opposed to a 4 to 8-bar hook. That’s the part that you're gonna sing along to and remember about the track. There’s a reason it’s called ‘the hook’.


Can you describe the feeling you get when you perform? Do you remember your first time?


The first performance I gave was a nightmare. I was basically shi***ng myself. I was so nervous that I think I forgot a part of every song I was performing! Even though most of the crowd were friends, it was just such a new experience. I’d recorded music before, but performing? That was a whole different story. I just remember the minutes leading up to my performance, just dripping in sweat, mad nervous chills, and I probably took like 10 pisses before. But the second you get on stage, it’s a rush that you can’t even describe. My girlfriend will always tell me that I need to cool it down because I get a little crazy sometimes, but it’s hard for me to contain that energy because I feed off of how everyone else looks; it’s all about being a showman. You want them to remember your performance!


From your first performance to your most recent, is there a progression?


100%. With all the rehearsals, you absolutely grow in that you learn what parts are worth preparing for and what parts to give yourself freedom on; it's all about getting comfortable. Once you start to truly believe who you are, nothing else matters. People are gonna love you, hate you, but all that really matters is how you feel about yourself. Something that helps me if I’m nervous is that I’ll look behind the audience at the beginning of a performance; it’s a unique trick that helps me calm my nerves and ease my way into interacting with the crowd.



(Instagram: itsjakegiller)

In terms of your music videos, I see you have a unique comedic edge to your content: Have you always been the funny, class-clown type?


Oh, for sure. The way I look at music videos, you want the people watching it to have fun and be able to re-watch them. The music may be hard, but if the videos are entertaining, that’s everything. I really enjoy making people laugh, whether it’s in a bar, on a track, or a music video.


With your creative edge, do you have any interest in acting or film?


Oh hell yeah. Give me a script, tell me what to do, and I’m there! Who knows, I might be the next Will Ferrel...


What’s your dream collab as an artist?


As a fan, I’d love to say Drake. But as you know, any time Drake features, it becomes a Drake song. Jack Harlow and I would kill a track together for sure. For producing, working with Pharrell would be dope.


How important would you say that people skills are in entertainment?


People skills are a Top 3 skill you could have in not just the music business, but any business. Doesn’t matter if you’re the brightest star in the room; if you’re a d**khead, you’ll lose out on so many opportunities. Money, talent, and connections can only get you so far if nobody wants to be around you; positivity and hustle can take you anywhere.


What advice would you give to an aspiring musician who ‘doesn’t know where to start’?


I would first say just don’t stress! There’s no time limit to this! Find the music you love, then make it. Most of the time I’m in the car, I bump my music because THAT’s the type of stuff I want to listen to. Make what you want to hear! The biggest cheat code you have as an artist is to detach yourself from the word ‘quality’ and just create. By doing this, you allow yourself to make something just for the sake of making it, as opposed to trying to appeal to a demographic.


How would you assess the evolution of your sound from your first song to your most recent track?


If you were to listen to my old music, you’d think that I almost sounded nervous on the track; and you’d be right. The reason why is because I didn’t really believe it yet. Having that confidence and swagger is everything. The drive pushes past everything. Back when I was in Mankato, I’d sleep on my buddies couch and literally just record from dusk to dawn. When you’re actually living the lifestyle you rap about, your focus shifts from ‘selling yourself’ on a track to simply reporting your life.


What is a trend in today’s Hip-Hop that frustrates you?


The consistent flex rap. Don’t get me wrong, art is art; but I’m drawn to the art where you’re rapping about something you really feel. The more personal, the more creative. Put your emotions into it, and the flow, lyrics, melody, and all the mechanics will take care of themselves! If you’re flexing in a way that’s unique, fresh, or subversive, I’ll get behind that because you’re doing it in a way that nobody else could. I’m referring more to the disposable, cliche style of rap that doesn’t offer any unique perspective or insight from the artist themself.


How did your hunger develop?


It definitely wasn’t right from the jump. When I didn’t have money and I was sleeping on my friend's couch, I’d say that’s when it really hit me, literally and figuratively. However, as grating as that struggle period can be, it brings something out of you; For me, it unlocked a level of drive and creativity that I could never have anticipated. I’m grateful for the struggle because it gave me the XP necessary to level up into where I’m at now.


What role, if any, does fear play in the creative process?


Fear is always there. ‘What happens if x, y, z?’ At the end of the day, who cares? Failure is the key ingredient to success! Lock that mantra in and go nowhere without it.


What’s your ideal creative setup?


I like a blue tint of light, it’s calming to me. I also get an energy drink and that’s about it. I’m not someone who likes a lot of people in the room while


I’m recording. When I work, I sweat even when I’m writing; my heart just jumps when I’m in that creative zone; I just get possessed by the process in a beautiful way.


What aspect of a track do you prioritize the most?


If not the hook, my last chunk of bars to close out the song with a bang. That’s the last part of the song that your listener is going to hear, so you can’t end it on some weak s**t. I also feel as though the final verse of a song is your chance to be the most vulnerable as an artist, as it sort of acts as the climax of whatever ‘narrative’ you're spinning in that particular song.


What’s the most important quality of a successful artist?


Being hungry, nobody wants to work with someone that isn’t really about it. Most importantly, it implies that you’re ready; ready for any opportunity at any moment. You become what you think about everyday, so if you’re obsessed with leveling up your music, you’ll find opportunities where others find roadblocks; it’s crazy how your life changes when you learn how to manipulate your own mind to work for you and not against you.


What’s your ultimate vision for your career?


5-10 years down the line, at home my own studio setup. Water Wave is a household name in Hip-Hop, my Mom has her own home, girlfriend has the biggest closet she could want; really just setting up my people for generations to come. I want music that lasts; I want songs that 10 years from now, you can still enjoy; a true legacy.


What role does your support system play in your perspective as an artist?


That's everything, man. It really all comes down to positive energy; when you’re in a positive mindset, nobody can tell you s**t. They say you’re the I’m recording. When I work, I sweat even when I’m writing; my heart just jumps when I’m in that creative zone; I just get possessed by the process in a beautiful way.


What aspect of a track do you prioritize the most?


If not the hook, my last chunk of bars to close out the song with a bang. That’s the last part of the song that your listener is going to hear, so you can’t end it on some weak s**t. I also feel as though the final verse of a song is your chance to be the most vulnerable as an artist, as it sort of acts as the climax of whatever ‘narrative’ you're spinning in that particular song.


What’s the most important quality of a successful artist?


Being hungry, nobody wants to work with someone that isn’t really about it. Most importantly, it implies that you’re ready; ready for any opportunity at any moment. You become what you think about everyday, so if you’re obsessed with leveling up your music, you’ll find opportunities where others find roadblocks; it’s crazy how your life changes when you learn how to manipulate your own mind to work for you and not against you.


What’s your ultimate vision for your career?


5-10 years down the line, at home my own studio setup. Water Wave is a household name in Hip-Hop, my Mom has her own home, girlfriend has the biggest closet she could want; really just setting up my people for generations to come. I want music that lasts; I want songs that 10 years from now, you can still enjoy; a true legacy.


What role does your support system play in your perspective as an artist?


That's everything, man. It really all comes down to positive energy; when you’re in a positive mindset, nobody can tell you s**t. They say you’re the Worst: Be like your dad. Best: No matter what you choose to do, you’ll always be loved. That’s everything.


Mission statement for the rest of 2021?


Go big.


Anything coming up?


Wednesday August 4th, we’re going crazy.



…Indeed we are.


Be sure to catch Giller TONIGHT at 7th St. Entry! The show will also feature special performances from our very own Kelvino, Treyson Green, and Wilsun!*



(Instagram: Waterwavetv) August 3, 2021.


*For those attending, please note the following policy for First Avenue’s Updated COVID-19 Policy:



(First Avenue Press) August 2, 2021.


With that, be safe and enjoy the show!


For all your Minnesota Hip-Hop needs, follow WaterWave TV on Instagram and subscribe to our Youtube Channel, where we post daily content on everything from industry news, release updates, interviews with your favorite local artists, podcasts, vlogs, clothing drops, free giveaways and more!


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-Cameron Hernandez
















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