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AZ rapper performs outside Cardinals home games, uses freestyle rap to spread positivity

By Bridget Dowd
Published: Thursday, January 11, 2024 - 4:46am
Updated: Thursday, January 11, 2024 - 9:21am

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It was a disappointing season for the Arizona Cardinals, who won just four games. But that didn't dampen the carnival-like atmosphere that surrounds an NFL stadium on game days.

On a gray, 45 degree Sunday afternoon in Glendale, fans were funneling into State Farm Stadium for the last Cardinals game of the season.

A crowd gathered on the pathway from a guest parking lot to stadium security, holding up their phones, recording videos and dancing to the beats of a free-style rapper performing along the bridge.

Cardinals fan Perry Quittenbaum was walking by, wearing former quarterback Kurt Warner’s number 13, when he heard this lyric.

“Number 13 jersey right next to me, man I’m hungry, might need some KFC.”

“I thought it was the radio playing,” Quittenbaum said. “I heard him and then I noticed he was engaging with everybody coming through and people are looking over and laughing and it’s just a fun time.” 

Arizona rapper Deyton Jackson (AKA KiddFriendly) performs outside State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024 as fans make their way to the last home game of the season.
Bridget Dowd/KJZZ
Arizona rapper Deyton Jackson (AKA KiddFriendly) performs outside State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024 as fans make their way to the last home game of the season.

The rapper seamlessly weaving people’s outfits and actions into his lyrics as they pass is 25-year-old Deyton Jackson, also known by his stage name, KiddFriendly.

“I made a transition from cursing in my music to not cursing at all,” Jackson said. “So it’s like kid friendly music.”

All season, he’s been standing outside the stadium on game days, entertaining fans as they make their way inside.

“People are just so astounded,” he said. “I might talk about their whole outfit before they realize. Like they look down and go ‘he’s talking about my clothes.’ So it’s always fun ultimately to get people to smile and laugh and break the ice.”

Jackson’s raps aren’t just for the love of music, but for a cause. He founded his own nonprofit called Kids at Heart Foundation, focused on changing the culture of hip-hop. 

“So that it can not only be a place of destruction and perversion and death, but a culture that uplifts, speaks positivity, speaks love through the music,” Jackson said.

He has a basket set aside for donations when he raps on the street, and that cash helps fund his nonprofit.

“It’s crazy. I just had recently somebody donate a Rolex to me,” Jackson said. “They dropped it in the basket.”

fans pose in front of State Farm Stadium in Glendale
Bridget Dowd/KJZZ
Perry Quittenbaum (third from left) attended the last Cardinals game of the season on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024 wearing former quarterback Kurt Warner’s number 13. Deyton Jackson tied Quittenbaum's jersey into his lyrics as he walked by.

About three or four times a week, Jackson raps wherever he can, outside concerts, events and games in hopes of spreading positivity through his music.

“I wanted it to be pure, I wanted it to be able to touch the ears of kids and grandparents you know all ages,” he said. “I wanna speak about love and faith and family and stuff like that.” 

Jackson is able to do so with the support of his wife. He started a career in marketing, but the 9-to-5 office job wasn’t for him.

“After about a couple of weeks I’m like ‘Babe, this is totally not it,” Jackson said. “I’m like ‘I think I can make just as much money rapping on the corner’ and she’s like ‘I believe you.’”

So in December 2022, he quit his job, got some equipment and started rapping outside various venues.

“I think I performed maybe five times the first week and I made more than I made at my job, like barely,” Jackson said. “So I did it again, but the next week I doubled it.”

His financial success with rapping is fairly new, but he’s been working on his freestyle skills pretty much his whole life. Jackson said it all started when he was a young kid and he and his brothers would entertain their mom.

“She would have her friends over to kill some time, you know drink some wine or whatever and she would yell out ‘introducing Deyton Jackson’ and each one of my brothers, individually, we would come out and dance and rap and entertain them,” Jackson said.

Later on he got into poetry and found ways to get creative with school projects.

“I think fifth grade was the first time that they let me perform a project for the assem- It was the constitution. So they let me make a wrap to the 'Fresh Prince of Bel Air.'”

Fans walk toward State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, passing Arizona rapper Deyton Jackson (AKA KiddFriendly) on their way.
Bridget Dowd/KJZZ
Fans walk toward State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024, passing Arizona rapper Deyton Jackson (AKA KiddFriendly) on their way.

His mom, Michelle Jackson, said she always knew her son was smart and witty, but didn’t realize how good he was at rapping until he was 17. She said he came from school one day, went into his room and wrote and recorded a song.

“And I listened to it and I was blown away,” Michelle said.

She said Deyton’s always been an out-of-the-box thinker who didn’t want to work a regular job. So it didn’t surprise her when he started rapping on street corners.

“He’s so driven and so passionate about what he does that I just don’t see him not being successful, because he doesn’t have a plan B,” she said.

Deyton’s Plan A is to keep climbing up in the industry and use his influence for good.

“If somebody’s favorite rapper tells them to do drugs, they’re gonna do the drugs,” he said. “So I just want to capitalize on that and be the change I wanna see.”

He said that means teaching kids that things like love and being sober can be cool too.

Just because I’m not a detriment to people’s health and minds, doesn’t mean I can’t still thrive in this industry,” he said, “because I am thriving.”

A crowd gathers around Arizona rapper Deyton Jackson (AKA KiddFriendly) outside State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024.
Bridget Dowd/KJZZ
A crowd gathers around Arizona rapper Deyton Jackson (AKA KiddFriendly) outside State Farm Stadium in Glendale on Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024.

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