Kara DioGuardi is his "industry mom" and he's obsessed with Disney. Meet the rap world's newest star!
Born Keidran Jones in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Iyaz, 22, was discovered by Kingston, who checked out his MySpace page in 2008. Since then, his single “Replay” has already snagged No. 1 spots on worldwide charts. He s also rubbed elbows with musical heavyweights like Quincy Jones and Lionel Richie. And he hasn’t even released an album yet. (Produced by J.R. Rotem, it’s due out on Warner Brothers Records’ Beluga Heights/Reprise Records this spring!)
As Iyaz gears up for its release, here are five fun facts about the single singing sensation.
1. He’s no longer a Grammy virgin!
Iyaz made his Grammys debut last week, and even though mingling with high-wattage music stars isn’t new for him, he tells PEOPLE, “being there was amazing for me. I met Bon Jovi!” And the hobnobbing didn’t end there: “I went to the Warner Brothers party afterwards and then I went to the Def Jam party, and Rihanna was there, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, just everyone.”
2. American Idol‘s DioGuardi showed him the industry ropes.
Shortly after Kingston met Iyaz and introduced the newcomer to his label, he met songwriter/producer DioGuardi, who was working at the record label. “She was the one who took care of me,” Iyaz, who walked the Grammy red carpet with her, says. “She s like my industry mom. She gave me pointers and any questions I had, she had answers.”
3. He lent his voice to the all-star "We Are The World" recording.
“My mom put me onto the [original] “We Are The World” video years ago, so I ve been watching it for a long time,” he says. “To be part of the remake was unbelievable.” With over 80 singers and actors joining him in the studio, it was easy to get star-struck. “I was sitting right next to Quincy Jones,” he says. “He and Lionel Richie made me the most star-struck.”
4. He’s a Disney fanatic!
He may a strapping 22-year-old, but Iyaz isn t ashamed to admit his taste in TV may shatter people s perceptions. “I like watching The Wizards of Waverly Place, The Suite Life On Deck [and] Hannah Montana,” says Iyaz. I like to watch those shows especially when I come home and want to chill and relax.”
5. College was a family affair
Three years ago, Iyaz, his father and sister all attended Rhode Island’s New England Institute of Technology at the same time – and even had the same classes! “We d be sitting in the same classes and have the same teachers, but it wasn’t awkward,” he says. “We’re really close, but we never studied together.” And he says, laughing, “My dad didn t want to pass any cheat sheets to me, so that’s not cool!”