“Who’s Schwab the Autodidact?”

Jordan Schwab walked into the recording room holding stickers that asked that very question, which was hopefully going to be answered that day.

Schwab was only three years old when he started listening to artists like Outkast and Tupac, courtesy of his father.

“I would always be dancing to it in the living room, whenever he would be playing them,” Schwab said.

It was this exposure to the genre that got him into rapping at a young age.

“I fell in love with rap ever since I was a little kid,” Schwab said.

Schwab, who goes by the name Schwab the Autodidact, started writing music when he was 15 years old. His earlier tracks were singles that he made in his closet with minimal equipment.

“I would get a blanket, and would put it over my head to block out the air noise, and just record with the little Apple earbuds,” Schwab said.

Schwab said that he had to prove to his grandfather, who owns a professional studio, that he was ready to go and record at his studio, and that is what drove him when he was just starting out.

Growing up, Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Drake were some of the artists he listened to a lot, according to Schwab. But as he started getting older, Schwab discovered J. Cole, who really inspired him to start writing about things that actually mattered.

“When I was 15 I used to rap about things like ‘you know we about to go up in the club’ and things like that,” Schwab said. “But then I started lyrically growing, and now I rap about what’s going on in the world – what I see in the news.”

Hip-hop artist Jordan Schwab, a.k.a Schwab the Autodidact, started writing music when he was 15 years old. Photo credit: Katie Hamilton

Most, if not all of the things that Schwab raps about come from his own life and his own experiences. This is what makes his music so raw and genuine.

“If you listen to my rap back when I was recording in my closet, it’s definitely me, talking about life,” Schwab said. “Usually what I write relates to myself, and I want to make the whole city proud.”

He writes his raps with a lot of heart, and all of that emotion gets translated to the listeners every time they listen to his music.

He doesn’t just stick to hip hop samples to rap over, and according to him, he likes all types of genres. His sampling process usually entails him going back and listening to whatever he grew up listening to including rock and roll, jazz “or anything, honestly,” Schwab said.

His ways of telling his stories through his rap can be attributed to Logic, who, according to Schwab, is one of the rappers he relates to the most, because Logic also faced adversities growing up.

“Growing up, I dealt with a lot,” Schwab said. “I relate a lot to Logic, honestly. I feel like me and him are both kind of crazy.”

Schwab has a new single coming out tentatively in February called “Feeling Good.” The inspiration for it came to him one night while he was working at Donatos Pizza.

“It was a late Friday night and there was nothing going on and I heard this classic beat on my phone,” Schwab said. “I started making a rhythm over it lyrically. I just continued off of that and finished it in one night.”

Schwab loves performing at open mics, and wants to open a place of his own in Columbus, to give back to the city.

“One of my biggest dreams, if I make it, is to open my own open mic place where everybody can go and do what they love,” Schwab said.

Some of Schwab’s favorite places to perform at in the city are The Shrunken Head, Skully’s Music Diner, Kafe Kerouac and Bossy Grrl’s Pin Up Joint.

“I got very, very good vibes at these places. Everybody was hyping me up like man you killed it up there,” Schwab said.

Schwab will be performing on Feb. 25 at Skully’s Music Diner, and has a show in Florida later on in the year on Aug. 30 in an undecided city.

Schwab said he writes from his heart and aims to touch people’s souls. That is the kind of legacy he’d like to leave behind, that is what he wants to be remembered for.

“Touching people with my lyrics and just leaving this world with something that everybody will always remember,” Schwab said. “Kind of like Michael Jackson, whose music never died.”