Producer and publicist Jonathan Hay is a music industry and entertainment insider who has been involved in many pop, rock, and hip-hop projects since the early 2000s. He is best known for his work promoting Rihanna's 2005 debut single "Pon de Replay," and has worked with such high-profile artists as Ice Cube, Whitney Houston, Chuck D, and many others. Along with his PR work, Hay has had success in the studio, often collaborating with producer/label owner Mike Smith. In 2018, the duo landed on several Billboard charts, including the Jazz and Independent Albums chart with their collaboration Jazz Deluxe.
Born in Leesburg, Florida in 1973, Hay was adopted and grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, where his family encouraged his interest in music. As a teenager, he gravitated toward hip-hop and, after discovering a local music studio while attending college in Louisville, production and publicity. Following a move to Los Angeles, Hay launched his career as a publicist representing Days of the New singer Travis Meeks, as well as Australian hip-hop duo Quo. He also worked for Whitney Houston via her father John Houston's Entertainment company.
Meeks relocated to Florida where he worked with rapper Cilvaringz's (aka Tarik Azzougarh) Ringz & Partners Entertainment. In 2005, he gained wide recognition for publicizing Rihanna's debut single "Pon de Replay," which landed at number one on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. In 2013, he co-founded the Charlotte, North Carolina-based SMH Records with producer Mike Smith. He and Smith have collaborated on several projects, beginning with the 2015 hip-hop compilation When Music Worlds Collide. In 2018, the duo issued Jazz Deluxe, which charted on both the Billboard Jazz and Independent Albums chart. Jazz Part Two arrived the following year. Hay again charted in the Billboard Jazz Albums Top Ten in 2019 with Follow the Leader, a jazz reworking of Erik B. & Rakim's classic 1988 hip-hop album.