21-year old Newbridge local, Percy Chamburuka, also known as Jafaris, breaks down his latest project, gives us the low down on his music and the Irish music scene.
As I reached my destination for the interview, Percy, also known as ‘Jafaris’ had just finished a session in the diffusion lab studio in Dublin’s city centre. He looked totally drained. From what could be seen, it’s easy to tell he’d been going for it in the booth.
He wiped his brow, grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and sat down on the couch next to me. I let him know that the interview shouldn’t take too long, as I know that his studio time is precious to him. I gave him a few minutes to cool off and to get his breath back.
His friend was the first person that got him into the music scene. From free styling with his friends in his bedroom, he discovered that he had a hidden talent for rapping. It started out as something he did just for fun and gradually evolved into a fixated love for the art of it all.
When he first started out rapping, his father heard what he was rapping about. He guided him onto a better path and to rap about things that are actually meaningful to him. You can even tell by listening to his lyrics, they are topics that he genuinely cares about and stuff that’s going on in his life at this moment in time.
With his sound, he believes that he’s definitely ‘not boxed in’. From listening to his EP, ‘Velvet Cake’, he displays an array of sounds and flows that show he’s definitely flexible in his sound, almost without a genre. The fact that he has this fluidity definitely helps him create whatever sound he’s feeling at that moment in time.
His thoughts on the Irish rap music scene as a collective were that, “the scene is very fruitful, I can see it coming up”. “Everyone is making good music right now, but nothing be identified as Irish yet”. Realistically, Irish rap music doesn’t have it’s own identity yet. Irish rappers sound similar to U.K or American rappers. Jafaris goes on to say that ‘Irish rappers change their voice to make it sound like they’re American or from the U.K.” This is unfortunately because the beats that producers over here adopt, are American or U.K beats. If producers made their own beats, Ireland would definitely be more identifiable. “Right now, the only artists that could be identified as an Irish sound would be Loah and Rocstrong.”
He’s now played every Irish music festival, that’s definitely something not a lot of Irish artists can say. His favourite festival that he’s played at is Electric Picnic and it’s not hard to see why. It’s the biggest festival in the country.
His favourite song from his EP is ‘Like Drugs’. The way he wrote he felt “felt real” to him, as if he was re-living the whole experience. Experiencing those emotions all over again. From a writers perspective, he thought “it represented me well. It was a good song to drop for our generation.” Talking about drugs at his age is something we need more artists to do. Especially because of how regularly teenagers and young adults use drugs now.
Emotions undoubtedly influence his lyricism and if you listen closely, you can see how they’re implemented. “He asked what she wanted’ and she said love, but he don’t do drugs baby, love is a drug baby.” When asking him this, he said that at the time of writing this, he was going through an emotional time with his girlfriend. It’s very mixed emotions. There’s happiness but also sadness. They intertwine well together and that’s what make this EP great.
“It was genuine love and genuine frustration at the same time for me, accompanied with different perspectives of both emotions. Obviously her view of both emotions also.” These two emotions work well together to make this EP. Emotions are big parts of any musical project. They’re a driving force behind any great piece of music, whether that be an EP, an album, or even just one track. When you open up to someone in a song, people gravitate towards that, because they’re leaving themselves vulnerable and people appreciate that vulnerability.
The popular rap songs nowadays just talks about sex, drugs and crime. Fair enough if that is actually what some rappers go through on a daily basis. But listening to a suburban rapper, rap about the struggle is just a bit of a joke to be honest. No one can take them seriously and they just look ridiculous. By implementing emotion into your music, it’s definitely one way to get your audience invested in your music and when performing, the crowd.
As of now, Jafaris still refers to himself as a rapper, although he hopes to be known as an artist in the future. He believes that being an artist “gives you more fluidity to create music”. He thinks that he still needs to “find the formula” for himself. I feel like he’s being too modest here. From knowing Percy for a good while now, I believe that he’s genuinely talented, in his writing ability, his voice and his flare. In terms of the Irish music scene, he’s definitely established himself.
In the next five years, he definitely sees himself having headlined tours under his belt, as well as performing abroad being a regular thing. He also sees himself having at least two albums out, if not more, have featured on other artist’s albums and tracks and to have a few accolades to his name. All these achievements are definitely within reach for him, if he keeps moving at the pace that he’s moving at and stays on this creative pathway.
Author: Jack Carolan