It’s a gift to make writing about music your life. Jonathan Hailey enjoyed his gift every, single, day he sat down to work.

Alongside Jerry Barrow, The Urban Daily’s early beloved Managing Editor, Jonathan made it his mission to share the music that moves us—feel good, gut wrenching, soul-stirring Black music— with a voracious knowledge and passion.

My time with Jonathan reads quite similar to many of his coworkers at Interactive One. He was the first person in the office, well before the 9 a.m. rush. We’d pile in, greeted with Anita Baker, Whitney Houston, or Michael Jackson playing on his laptop. The rest of the day was filled with jokes, passionate conversations, and tambourine soul claps, in a set of cubes we called Ratchet Row.

As I’m writing now, I feel him urging me to tell the story of the time I stole Wiz Khalifa’s rolling papers. As the world’s most awfully obvious stealer, I’d walk over to his desk and let him know that I stole his press gifts and GQ issues. One day, he saw that I had a package from Wiz Khalifa on my desk. This time around he humored me. He asked me if I knew what rolling papers were, and what to do with them. We both realized I had absolutely no idea what to do with them, and we screamed with laughter for days.

Jonathan had an old soul beyond anyone I’ve known, especially when it comes to music. Leave the young ones with Tinashe—his wife-to-be was Janet Jackson. Every time he fired up WordPress, he sat poised to make every single sentence speak with the authority of his vast knowledge. He wrote every sentence like it was for those GQ issues I stole. And he inspired us all to do the same.

Like many of his colleagues, we’re blindsided with the news of his untimely passing. He lost his battle with cancer on November 30, and heaven’s smile got a bit wider.  He was just 30 years old.

Working with Jonathan was a true joy. And today as we celebrate him, I realize more and more how his time at The Urban Daily was the place where he lived his joy. And that’s something that we should be doing every single day in honor of him, and in honor of our own true purpose.

Jonathan Hailey loved three things more than anything in this world: his mom, music, and putting his feelings about those melodies into words. His incredible spirit, his hearty laugh, and the big love he had for his friends, family and coworkers alike, will surpass his 30 years with us.

– Jada Gomez-Lacayo

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