Jehst Interview (by DJ Moneyshot)
Currently one of the UK’s hottest underground rhyming talents, Jehst is riding a wave of success at the moment following the recent release of his “Return Of The Drifter” EP, and his appearances on the new Low Life “Food” compilation. Peep it as the talented rapper slash producer chops it up for a second with DJ Moneyshot about his inspirations, his label and Shakespeare.
So Jehst, whats up?
J: Its really getting hectic for me at the moment, man. I pretty much manage myself. It’s really getting out of hand at the moment. I’m so busy. Like today I’ve had radio in the morning, T.V in the afternoon and I’ve gotta interview with Big Smoke magazine tonight.
It’s like you’ve won Pop Idol or something.
J: For real! I just aint got no money (laughs)
So, a lot of press interest at the moment?
J: Yeah, it’s good for the label. It’s a necessary thing. I’m on and off the phone, sometimes it’s crazy. I was talking to Braintax about it.
He’s an artist and label head honcho too, so he’s in the same boat.
J: Oh mate! He’s worse! He’s even more hectic.
You’ve still got time to kick back on some ‘Riviera Hustle’ type ‘ish , as described in your last collaboration with him on wax.
J: That was just some, you know, having a larf on that one, man. That’s some different shit for me.
A tad more up beat I’d say. Truer to life of the word ‘jest’.
J: Yeah, mate. Lyrically not something I would have written normally. Braintax had the beat there, and he just kinda came with the idea and I started writing. It just went from there. We did a part two, which is on the “Delegates of Culture” C.D. Which I really like. I wanna put it out on a white label.
So, is that how it works then? Do you come with a lot of pre-written stuff or does the beat inspire the way the rhymes turn out?
J: Errm, a lot of the time I write to the beat. ‘Cos I produce, so a lot of the time I start with a beat. I walk around with a beat tape or what ever, so if the inspiration strikes I’ll just write to the beat. More times I’ll be inspired by other peoples beats. When you listen to your owns beats your like ‘the hi-hat needs tightening’ or what ever. You know, your listenin’ to it technically.
What style of production do you like the most?
J: Man : Diamond D, Finesse, DITC : who’s that new guy: Amed, he did that Molano 12″. He’s incredible.
Buckwild? That moody but engaging flow.
J: Yeah, he did stuff like ‘Times Up’… licks,licks. All them people. To me there’s a certain connection between DITC and then, like Pete Rock, Premier, early Beatminerz. That’s the stuff that inspires me to produce. That’s my classics there.
The melancholic funk…
J: Yeah, heavy drums, raw samples : just RAW! Raw in the sense of stripped down. I love Cannibal Ox. That’s raw : atmospheric. Putting you in a movie scene, you know. Or the pages of a comic book or what ever.
(I mention that DJ Shadow sound-tracked the movie ‘Dark Days’, but neither of us has seen it)
J: Anything where you put different elements of the art together interests me, to me that’s the major reason why I got into Hip Hop as a kid. Every element was there: the music, the art, the dancing : I’ve just grown up drawing since I was a kid.
That’s right, didn’t you finish an illustrations degree?
J: Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to say I finished it! I studied illustration, and English Literature. I was really into my Shakespeare in my A-Levels, I’ve got a lot of imagery from that.
What kind of subjects do you touch upon when you write?
J: The dominant subject matter is me! I’m quite self-indulgent as a lyricist. It’s very observational as well.
Also you touch upon the rhyming itself as an art and the way you deliver. I quote:
My stream of consciousness is liquid tranquility
A turquoise pool of limitless calligraphy
(Jehst – ‘Carpe Diem’)
J: Oh yeah : that’s… no. That’s not as old as I thought. That lyric was blatantly inspired by the nature of the music it came with. For me a good song has to have a certain atmosphere. If your gonna marry music and lyrics they’ve gotta connect. It don’t wanna be the kind of marriage that ends in divorce in six months. It’s surprising, the people I know who are into real hardcore shit really felt that tune. I musta done something right.
Is that the kind of stuff you want to be putting out on the label you run, YNR-Productions?
J: YNR, the mission really is to facilitate artists. It started by me just putting out my own E.P, off my own back, ‘Premonitions’. And from that moment on a lot of self-funded 12’s by Evil Ed, Nmonics and by this point it was like ‘this is getting out of hand’. It became bigger than just getting a few things out there just to be heard. It’s crazy. Breaking down the money between everyone. It got to the point were we had to start doing it right as a proper label. Now we are in the position where we can facilitate the next artist in line. We’ve got Usmaan coming out with ‘Stay Focused’, he’s not gonna have to fund his own record. We can put it out for him, you know? It’s really not a money making thing. Down the line, yeah. At the moment any money made is pumped back into the label. So the next release can be bigger and better. I had no ambition to be running a label, but sometimes you have no control. In the U.K you’ve gotta handle your own business to some extent.
What have you got dropping in terms of material next?
J: I’ve got this new single on Low-Life records, “Return of the Drifter”. I’ve dropped a CD version, ‘cos a lot of people only buy CDs. With some older stuff on, the vinyl only releases, a kind of compilation. So look for that.
I’m sure we will. Well thanks for the interview. Now get back to work, do you think record label bosses/successful rap artists sit around chatting all day? You’ve got pens to push and lyrics to spit. So be off with ya!