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Panama City, Florida, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2005

Panama City, Florida, United States
Established on Jan, 2005
Band Hip Hop Spoken Word




"Album Review: Jamal STEELE’s ‘Driving Toward Our Purpose’"

Hip-hop artist Jamal STEELE believes we all have a unified purpose: To achieve greatness. Throughout his inspirational and socially-encouraged debut LP, the Atlanta native rapper invites everyone who listens to get acquainted with this greatness. Driving Toward Our Purpose has more than its share of it.

On the hook of “Do You,” the album’s final track, STEELE proclaims, “I am not a killer nor a dealer with crystalized rocks/all I do is rip mad mics and give God props/be a light for the culture and remain on top, and rep hidden truth ‘til I drop.” Backed by a sample that sings “Don’t expect you to be someone you’re not”, the point of ‘Purpose’ is hammered home on a strong note.

On gritty opening track “Let It Go,” STEELE says his “life experiences are truly worth the price of admission,” then he begins “Goin’ Ape” with a reinterpretation of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin & Juice;” he rhymes in its classic cadence, “With so much drama that’s sur-roun-ding me it’s kinda hard being STEELE to a certain degree, but I…” What he does is bare his soul. On the reflectively wisdom-heavy “The Movement” (produced by Ant Carter), STEELE confesses he, “never had a problem feasting on Ramen, stomach stayed on E yet the mind was full and throbbing.”

STEELE does steer off course a few times here. While the second verse of “Southern Girl”—an ode to his preference of women bred down south—is one of the best on the album, the song overall doesn’t fit the feel created from the LP’s beginning or when it ends. STEELE’s rhymes are not as polished on the hyped-up “Run & Gun,” and militant boom-bash of “Stand Your Ground” gets a little too overly aggressive.

Each of STEELE’s songs—with additional production by GlassC!ty, El-R, DJ Quezs, and Ta-Ku—pounds with bass and drums reminiscent of 90s hip-hop; the melodies have multi-era soul influences. These shine brightest on the emotional “December Rain” (featuring Ant Carter), a soul-soaked, neck snapping sing-a-long confessional you’ll be reciting or humming for days.

Overall, Jamal STEELE’s Driving Toward Our Purpose is an inspired trip worth taking, one you’re sure to leave with souvenirs.

—Mr. Joe Walker - Soul Train, July 8, 2015

"Hip locals lean on originality"

PANAMA CITY — In a city where a hipster can be confused with a pair of jeans that clutch at the hips, some locals are marking their territory by shaping the local performing arts scene.

Wearing his red and black baseball cap turned backward and letterman jacket not the least bit oversized, local artist Jamil Davis, also known as Jamal Steele, has found his place in the spotlight of a dimly lit stage.

“I just speak for the common man, the everyday man,” Davis said. “I speak for those who don’t necessarily want to live that lifestyle that they live. …”

By speaking, Davis doesn’t mean giving speeches or rants; he means performing original poetry or music.

Davis, who is a poet, rapper and singer, reserves at least one Friday a month to meet up with other local artists to Speak On It, a local performing arts meeting held at the A&M Theatre, 563 Harrison Ave., on the fourth Friday night every month.

At the meeting, poets — most unofficially titled — share stories of resiliency in the face of life’s struggles, including poverty, racism, abuse, bullying and social inequality. The meeting is just one of several performing arts events held at the theater.

In downtown St. Andrews, a coffee shop holds the same format.

“A lot of the friends that I have are really into the more creative output with music,” said Miriih Wright, 27.

“It’s very exposing,” the singer said as she listened to her friend perform at Caffiend’s Coffee and Tea, 1105 Beck Ave., which hosts open mic night on Thursdays from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

That same night, Sameeh Rosenau sat in a chair at the café against the wall and performed “False Pretences,” an original song about “a one-way ticket relationship that I had been in.”

She said writing gives her a “chance to think about what I’m actually feeling in a way that I can’t necessarily tell somebody,” adding, “the whole group of people has no idea of what I’m talking about, but I know and I’m saying it without saying it.”

At the café, locals regularly walk in and listen or perform at no extra cost.


With the tourism industry growing and mainstream finding its place in the area, underground performing artists are on the prowl to find outlets for original music in the conservative Panhandle. Many are drawn to a meeting place — the A&M Theatre.

“You can go anywhere on the beach right now and you’ll be able to hear some band playing ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ or ‘Free Bird’ or you’ll hear some DJ spinning Lil Jon, all day, every day in this town. But, as far as original music that actually has meaning behind it still … this is one of the last places in town to see it,” said A&M Theatre co-owner Justin Guthrie.

Watch a video of a recent performance

Mik Thomas, 24, a rapper from Germany, moved to the area about two years ago and discovered the local “rap scene” on an online artist music community, soundclick.com. He said after searching for “Panama City artists,” he linked up with a local artist who directed him to events at the theater.

“Here in Panama City it’s different,” Thomas said.

“You got the kids who can really get in the scene and support the music, but then you have the people who are retired,” he said, pausing, “You show them rap music, they’re like ‘what the hell is this;’ they’re not big fans of the music.”

Various artists said the downtown underground performing arts scene was more vibrant about five years ago, but the culture has since lost local support from artists and sponsors.

According to the director of a rap battle league Speak Up, 24-year-old Keith “Konsistent” Keister, the movement really died about a year ago due to “divas” — artists who do not like to share the stage — and their fans.

Keister lives in Detroit and organizes rap battles there as well as Panama City because his brother, 22-year-old Cory “C.K.” Keister, lives in the area.

Keister said he doesn’t “think there’s a lot of people that want to put the work in to support it,” but he feels “like it has a good chance.”

“They don’t support the culture as a whole. Although they’ll go see their friend battle or someone they’ve heard of, they won’t show up for just anybody; they won’t go up for every single” event, Keister said.

On Thursday night, Speak Up held Spring Break Out 2013. The rap battle — an acapella performance featuring two artists per round who develop totally improvised lyrics — attracted about 50 people and eight performers, including Davis and Thomas, both of whom won against their rap events.

Guthrie said he hopes the various events at the theater will “inspire competition” in downtown, noting the area needs culture “more than anything else” because it “builds community; it builds morality.”

Though some artists use harsh language, give threats and make references to violence at the various spoken word and music events, actual violence is rare; but when it happens, the community condemns it.

In December,19-year-old Corbin Steffes made an attempt to diffuse a fight between two girls after an open mic event at the theater and was sent to the intensive care unit at Bay Medical Center Sacred Heart Health System after being jumped by three men.

“We’re nonviolent people; we don’t want to see this kind of thing happen. We just want to have a place where people can come out and have a good time,” A&M Theatre co-owner Jesse Horn said.

The theater also showed anti-violence documentaries and held discussions about the incident and supporters of the underground performing arts community helped the theatre raise money to give the battered teen.

Steffes said about six weeks after the incident he was back to normal and “I pretty much come here every night,” he said of the theater.

And, despite the unprecedented attack that caused his jaw to be broken in four places, he said he had no hard feelings against his attackers.

“I’d rather be here; it’s not as crazy. I don’t want to go out the beach and get really drunk; I want to hang out and listen to really good music,” he said with a chuckle. “Stuff happens; I just don’t want it to affect me negatively like that. … I love music.” - JACQUELINE BOSTICK, Panama City News Herald, March 23, 2013

"Jamal STEELE – Driving Toward Our Purpose review"

Support the underground. A lot of heads are scared to jam unknown acts, but if my time as a writer has taught me anything, it’s that an open mind can expose your soul to some serious gems.

The Hollis Queens duo Run DMC were the the documented inspiration for many golden era acts, including legendary rapper Notorious BIG – and Atlanta-based rapper Jamal STEELE is no different. After seeing the visuals for their smash crossover hit Walk This Way, with Aerosmith, Jamal knew that hip-hop was something he had to do. He describes his career as a mission to “Impart, Influence, & Inspire” – sounds a little contrived right? See that’s the dope thing about this brother. It Isn’t at all! He’s extremely genuine. He gave me a copy of his semi-autobiographical new project Driving Toward Our Purpose, and I have to say, I was impressed.

I’m always supportive of cats who not only care about bars, but take the time to create cohesive, intelligent projects, rather than “choppy piecework”. I will pre-face this review by admitting that I’m a bit ignorant to his full catalogue, but I’m working my way through it. So here’s the goods: the album is sonically crafted by GlassC!ty, El-R, Ant Carter, DJ Quezs, Ta-Ku – a name that instantly peaked my interest –and Jamal STEELE himself. It’s 10 tracks, and has no filler or interludes.

The album starts with the hard-hitting Let It Go, where he he airs out clowns on the mic, and asserts the tone for the rest of the project. Some of the standouts for me were the “be yourself” anthem Do You, spiritual assertion Love Manifesto, the super lyrical Out There and the super soulful December Rain.

Jamal wears his heart in his sleeve: this album sees him sharing not only a healthy dose of well thought out social commentary and life experience, but also his faith. It’s a very honest, humble listen. I’m always drawn to cats who exist among radio, BET, MTV – and so on – and still manage to make a viable, non-commercial brand of hip-hop. Not to say that he doesn’t want to “blow-up”, he just isn’t dumbing himself down to do it. Salute.

Jamal is currently unsigned, but he’s definitely worth a listen. You can stream his Driving Toward Our Purpose project below, and you can also check him on Twitter. - Riley Wallace, Above Average HipHop, 2015

"Jamal Steele: 'Music Is Just A Glimpse Into My Purpose'"

Recently you released an album called Driving TOWARD our PURPOSE. What did you try to accomplish with the project?

With the album, I wanted to paint a picture of an individual who was shown his purpose in life that God called them to and the situations you would encounter while on the road to fulfilling your purpose. Music is just a glimpse into my purpose and with each song, it gives you a glimpse into every moment I've encountered on my road.

I love the cover art, I know the inspiration behind the album artwork. Would you mind sharing the inspiration behind the cover art in your own words?

I consider music one of my many weapons in the fight for equality and spiritual growth. The mic in the cover art is the instrument that's used similar to the picture that inspired my album cover, which is Malcolm X's AK-47 window picture. Malcolm was willing to fulfill his purpose BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY and this was my way of saying I'll do the same.

What are some challenges that you dealt with in regards to completing and promoting your project?

Initially, I was signed to an independent record label based out of Panama City. The label was actually a project for the music technology program for the local college and those who were working on my album were graduating, so my album wasn't high on the list of priorities. Eventually, I was released from my contract and back to square one on creating and releasing the album.

Fortunately, friends and family saw the work I was putting in and how dedicated I was and helped to make this a reality. Promoting is a struggle due to my lack of funds, but the knowledge I have gained from reading blogs on your site as well as studying trends in the culture has helped make this a little better.

Do you feel that Florida is misrepresented within the hip-hop world?

This state has many different styles of hip-hop, but of course mainstream media only shoes what is popular. Guys like Quest from Orlando, Big Lo from Pensacola, StessTheEmcee from Tallahassee, Mik Thomas and POPE from Panama City and others have a lyrical presence within their music. DJ's like BODYSLANGA from Pensacola, DJ Fumo and DJ AToTheL, both from Tallahassee, DJ Stutterbox from Panama City and DJ Big Boi from Panama City appreciate the culture as well as the gift of those wheels of steel. Hip-hop is respected in this state and soon that will be recognized.

What motivates you to record music?

There's a generation that's calling for change, yet doesn't know how or where to get that change. The social and spiritual awakening my generation received is attempting a revival through some in this generation. I make music still because I want to be the bridge between both generations and lead a movement that strengthens the culture and brings balance back to it. - Praverb The Wyse, Praverb.net, June, 2104

"Jamal STEELE - Driving TOWARD Our PURPOSE review"

Panama City-based Steele is out to prove hip-hop can deliver a message of love and inspiration. Backed by soulful melodies, Steele leans on samples instead of trendy, loud beats. With an undeniable flow and help from talented collaborators, this is a shining example of what the genre can be.

- Nikki Hedrick - Nikki Hedrick, The Beachcomber, May, 2014


Still working on that hot first release.



Hailing from Atlanta, GA, this 850 transplant knew from the moment he saw Run-DMC's "Walk This Way" video that music would be his way of expression. Wanting to end all opportunities of presenting his gift to the people at 13, it was Notorious B.I.G's memorable verse on Craig Mack's "Flavor In Ya Ear" remix that drew STEELE back to the pen. Citing B.I.G., Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, AndrĂŠ 3000, Nas, & Scarface as major influences, STEELE knew in 2002, when he gave his life over to Christ, that his verses had a deeper purpose. Now with a mission to "Impart, Influence, & Inspire", Jamal STEELE's lyrical crusade has made stops on Mick Boogie's collaborative mixtape with The Game in 2005 entitled "The Dope GAME", Jamal's first solo mixtape in 2006 entitled "Prelude 2 A CLASSIC, Vol. I" &, in 2009, his first solo release, a 5 track EP known as "The GENESIS".

Jamal has also made strides outside the musical realm as the host and co-event coordinator for Bay County's premier spoken word/performance event, "SPEAK ON IT!". Now headed into it's 3 year, the event, originally conceived and founded by Keisha Siriboe, allows artists to present their gift while discussing various topics that affect our community and generation today. The event has grown and started branching out into other cities as well, establishing a chapter on the campus of UWF in Pensacola, FL. Jamal STEELE has also been afforded the opportunities to be the only artist from Panama City featured on the annual GULF COAST SummerJam event held in Pensacola, FL, as well as opening for artists such as Big Lo, Slum Village, and Rapper Big Pooh.

Currently promoting his debut album entitled "Driving TOWARD Our PURPOSE", Jamal STEELE has received positive reviews on the project he's described as a semi-autobiographical piece of art. The album details how one realizes their purpose and the journey they feel they are taking to get to that purpose God has already placed within them. With an amazing soundtrack produced by GlassC!ty, El-R, Ant Carter, DJ Quezs, Ta-Ku and Jamal STEELE himself, the moment has come to finally Get ACQUAINTED With GREATNESS.

Band Members