Last year’s ‘New Gen’ hinted at what the future of UK hip-hop, R&B and grime looks like. Acts like Avelino, AJ Tracey and Ray BLK moved into the mainstream, Stefflon Don and Yxng Bane cemented their places as some of the game’s most important names.
For Jevon, it was the start of his latest journey. The musician produced several of the songs on the compilation and his breezy lead song ‘Man Of The Hour’. Production work on Nines’ 2017 album ‘One Foot Out’ (‘Love 2 The Game’, ‘Break Away’) followed, as did a thumping debut solo single in the shape of ‘Do The Road’ – but even bigger things linger round the corner.
On September 21, the London-via-Coventry rapper will share his debut EP ‘Judas’ – a bold introduction to an artist that can craft pop bangers (‘Judas’), slinky R&B numbers (‘Paranoia’) and uplifting soulful-inflected hip-hop (‘Redemption’).
You grew up in West London – what was that like?
It was a fun experience. I just remember fun times, a lot of unity, a lot of friends that would come together. Everyone just knew each other, everyone was like a family and I’ve got a big family as well.
How did you end up in Coventry?
I was a bit of a bad kid. I was a bit a naughty. I had a few warnings from my Dad and he was like, ‘Listen: if you misbehave one more time, I’m going to send you elsewhere.’ And then yeah, basically my Gran and Grandad packed up and moved up to Cov’, and I went with them.
Did you understand at the time?
I did understand it and I think that’s what made me rebel even more. It made me a very angry and aggressive child. I was forced into an environment that I didn’t necessarily really want to be in, when all my friends and all my family were down south. I felt like I was the one being punished. All my other cousins were way worse than me but I was being punished.
Are you glad about the way things panned out now?
I look back on it now, and since, it’s kind of worked. But it would’ve been weird to see how my life would’ve turned out if I stayed in them ends. It would’ve been interesting to see how that one would’ve planned out. As a Dad now, I understand why he would make that decision. Becoming a father was a humbling experience. I didn’t understand it, and when that happened, I understood why he did that.
Were you making music while you were still in London?
It was something that I tried in London, and then I brought it back up North with me. There was only a few people doing it up North. It made it a bit special as well at the same time, because when people saw it up North, they were like ‘oh wow’, because it wasn’t a thing really, I brought it up to Cov’ and then I started noticing more people doing music up and I started noticing some producers, and I was like, ‘Oh, ok. So there is a little bit of a scene up here.’
How long have you been working on the EP for?
The EP has been a bit of a six-month process, really. I’ve had one of the songs from previously before, so from like last year, and then just worked on it.
And you’ve been working on an album at the same time, right?
Yeah, I started the album and I went to Brazil for like three months to do the album. That’s been a crazy experience as well, but kind of just balancing it because they are two completely different sounds. So it’s been a different experience in terms of contrasting both sounds at the same time.
My Grandad was Brazilian and he passed away about three years ago now. In his will he left me his record collection, and it was all Brazilian artists. I had what I thought was the EP, but when I heard the Brazilian sounds, I just started making some Brazilian stuff. I was like, ‘This needs to be the album’. It was a blessing.
Did making music there change your mindset at all?
100%. It was a completely different environment and it tested me as a musician as well. It tested me musically because their whole process is all different. The whole kind of recording process was a bit of a challenge for me. The musicians back there play instruments differently and they have a different sort of rhythm, the way that they play which was something that I gravitated towards. It sounded so gravitating that I just wanted to hear more.
How are these records impacting you, then?
I think it was mainly just the inspiration but I got to work with two of the artists that were in that record collection. I got two work with two of them which was cool because they are like legends. There’s one guy and he’s calledMarcos Valle and another guy called Joao Donato.
What inspired you to write the song ‘Judas?’
It’s someone I grew up with, that I thought was my friend. There was a certain situation that happened – I think he was expecting me to react in a way that everyone else would expect me to react. But I was more hurt by this, because I looked at the guy like my brother. I actually was so hurt by it I didn’t retaliate. I think he then realised that I wasn’t the person that he thought I was, I think that hurt him even more. I’ve known him 20 years and it meant absolutely nothing to him and I think that hurt him more.