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Who Are SWV’s Cheryl ‘Coko’ Gamble's Children? (Hint: One’s a Famous Rapper)
The famous R&B singer passed her musical talent down to her two sons, Jayye Michael and Lil Tracy.
There’s more to Cheryl "Coko" Gamble than being one-third of the multiplatinum '90s R&B trio SWV (Sisters with Voices) — including being the mother of two sons, Jalen and Lil Tracy.
Although born in the Bronx, Coko currently resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where both her sons found their footing as musicians themselves. Part of younger son Jalen’s creative journey is featured in SWV & XSCAPE: The Queens of R&B, airing Sundays at 9:30/8:30c on Bravo and the next day on Peacock (get your first look here).
So, who exactly are Jalen and Lil Tracy?
Jalen Clemons, who goes by Jayye Michael, seems to be following his mother’s footsteps as an artist and just came out with his debut single, “Never Be.” The 20-year-old is firmly planting himself on the Virginia Beach music scene in Hampton Roads, where many got their start, including Missy Elliott, Pharrell Williams, and Timbaland.
RELATED: Here’s What SWV’s Name Means — and the Major Role TLC Played in the Process
Jalen is openly gay, and last summer, Jalen slayed at Portsmouth Pride Fest in Hampton Roads.
“It was not hard to accept my son’s sexuality at all,” Coko said during a 2021 Q&A on Youtube. “I’m his mother, so, I mean, I already knew what it was, and I was just waiting for him to figure out what it was. And when he came to me and told me, I was like, ‘You finally figured it out.’”
Jalen began singing at an early age while at church and cites his mother, as well as musicians Usher, Brandy, and Beyoncé, as his inspirations, according to ThisisRnB. He often collaborates with his mother, as seen in their version of “Sunshine” at the Verzuz battle featuring SWV and XSCAPE.
Coko regularly shares her duets with Jalen, including the mother and son “beautifully harmonizing” the classic Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway hit, “Where is the Love.”
But Jalen isn’t the only one proving that talent runs in the family (Jalen’s father is drummer Big Mike Clemons). His older brother, Jazz Ishmael Butler, 27, has already made a name for himself.
Known by his stage name Lil Tracy, and sometimes Tracy Minaj, the musician is a singer and producer for the rap-emo collective GothBoiClique (GBC), based in Los Angeles. In 2018, he told Mass Appeal’s Open Space that he left Virginia Beach for the City of Angels to hone in on his talents.
“When I was young, I felt like there was some s--t missing, so I just decided to go and just do my own s--t” he said. “I started making music when I had left home, and that s--t just started picking up. And then I had moved to L.A. when I was 18, and my parents didn’t even know.”
Tracy started peforming as “Yung Bruh” while still in Virginia Beach, but often traveled to Seattle, where his father, Digable Planets rapper Ismael Butler, lived. It was also the home of Raider Klan’s offshoot Thraxxhouse, who heard his music as Yung Bruh while he still lived on the east coast.
“Thraxxhouse found me,” Tracy said in a 2018 interview with Pitchfork. That was how he came to know GBC, an extension of Thraxxhouse, whose members would go on to include Long Island-raised Gustav Elijah Åhr, better known as the late Lil Peep.
Tracy found success with SoundCloud rap (or mumble rap), a popular movement within the genre in the 2010s that catered to artists including Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug, and the late XXXTentacion, according to the New York Times.
In 2017, Lil Tracy and Lil Peep collaborated for “Awful Things,” which debuted at #79 on Billboard’s Hot 100. It would be Lil Peep’s first (posthumous) listing in the category.
Lil Tracy’s songs have about 1 billion listens on Spotify. He continues making music today, including his recent single “Weak” — not to be confused with the 1993 single “Weak” by SWV, for which his mother sang.
Of course, Coko wastes no opportunity to share how proud she is of her sons. Whether it’s Jalen’s debut single as Jayye Micheal or Lil Tracy’s live rock star performances in L.A, Coko is sure to use the hashtag #proudmom.
You can find Coko, along with SWV members Tamara ‘Taj’ Johnson-George and Leanne “Lelee” Lyons, on SWV & XSCAPE: The Queens of R&B, with XSCAPE members Kandi Burruss, Tameka “Tiny” Harris, and sisters LaTocha Scott-Bivens and Tamika Scott as they prepare for an epic one-night-only musical performance.
New episodes of SWV & XSCAPE: The Queens of R&B premiere on Bravo Sundays at 9:30/8:30c. You can also stream episodes the following day on Peacock.