Meet Jafaris, the up-and-coming dynamo beckoning in a new generation of Irish hip-hop and putting Dublin on the rap map.
Dynamic wordsmith Jafaris is making a name for himself thanks to his high-octane raps and hard-hitting flow. Selected as one of Spotify’s RADAR artists, he’s quickly making his mark.
Since releasing his first single “Love Dies” in 2017, Jafaris has been finding his feet through a steady release of songs, EPs and last year, a 13-track album, ‘Stride’. The record earned him a nomination at the RTE Choice Music Awards for Album of The Year 2019. Having played at festivals such as Electric Picnic Festival and Longitude in Ireland and Eurosonic Festival in Holland, Jafaris is ready to go global.
Hailing from Dublin, Jafaris’ accent acts like a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, giving his music an extra zing. Coupled with his mile-a-minute rapping ability, it’s no wonder the young rapper was snapped up to collaborate with Joy Crookes for their song “Early” last year. It’s no wonder that the buttery-smooth single has amassed more than 5.7 million streams on Spotify.
Whilst Jafaris still seems to be shaping his trademark sound, he’s been flexing his musical muscles with each subsequent release. Shapeshifting from a smooth summer’s breeze on “Early” to the bouncy and upbeat “Found My Feet”, his unique skill is in his adaptability. As he tells me, “I just make what I make and I release what I’m connected to.”
With a new single set for release in September and an EP in the works, we spoke to the up-and-coming musician about the burgeoning Irish rap scene, his latest single, “Glue”, upcoming projects, and much more.
What led you to start making your own music in the first place?
It was a friend of mine who showed me his music back when I was 16. At that time, I was experiencing a lot from family to relationships that I didn’t really know how to speak on or speak about until I started writing. It became extremely therapeutic and I didn’t realise how therapeutic it was until about a year or two later.
You’ve got a new project coming out soon – what can you tell us about it in terms of the themes you’ll be touching on?
This project I would consider my closure piece. Something I couldn’t help but get off my chest. It’s the before, during and after stages of breaking up with my first love/ long term relationship.
Your debut album ‘Stride’ was released last year. How do you feel about the record a year later?
To me personally, I kinda feel like it was a premature release to do because of how I’ve progressed musically but without that album, I don’t think I’d be in the position I’m in right now. It’s opened a few doors for me to progress.
What parts of the album do you want to take with you as you move forward, and which will you be leaving behind?
The parts I’ll vouch for wholeheartedly from my project are the last three songs ’cause I made those songs when I finally had a clearer understanding of what I wanted the album to be and how I wanted to present it. Everything before it was me still trying to figure out what it all meant to me.
Your recent track “Glue” feels like a shift in sound, it’s a bit more pop than your previous releases. Was that an active decision, or did that sound come naturally as you were making the track?
I understand the pop comparison because of how happy the chords sound and even my delivery might be interpreted as poppy but nah, I wasn’t consciously trying to make a pop song, I often than not try to run away from pop. I just make what I make and I release what I’m connected to.
You’re part of a new wave of rappers coming out of Ireland. What’s the scene like there?
The scene is growing more and more by the minute. As part of the first generation of people doing hip hop music in Ireland so we still have a whole lot to learn but considering our lack of knowledge we’ve been fortunate enough to break down some doors with our music and the world is slowly but surely paying attention. If you’re curious to hear what Irish music sounds like check out people like, JyellowL, Hare Squead, Andre Fazaz, SoberSeven, Danny Bones, A Kay, Monjola, Evans Junior, Reggie B, Soulé, Uros and Rushes to name a few.
What’s been the biggest factor in terms of propelling this new wave forward?
I would say the fact that we’re Irish is somewhat of a factor in itself. It’s unchartered territory, no one knows how to react to it but everyone’s lowkey intrigued by it but I can’t say for sure. It’s almost easier to pinpoint the factors that make it harder for us to propel. Our industry is too far behind, it’s like they haven’t quite figured out how best to exploit us, so most of the talent just keeps leaving to make it elsewhere. That keeps the scene crippled because by not supporting or being able to facilitate it keeps running out the people that could potentially put the country on the map but aside from that is growing.
What energy do you want to give off when you perform live?
I have sections in my set where I dance to my music and I have sections in my set where I give a back story to a particular song or project of mine and I also have sections in my set where I dance with the people and interact with them with call and response. All of these things are my attempts to do nothing but connect. Music is just my way of being in front of people so that I can have the opportunity to connect with someone beyond the music. Sharing experiences and perspectives in hopes that I may sow a seed of hope or passion or purpose into someone I don’t even know but may have really needed it in the moment. That’s the energy I’d like people to feel when I perform, just a strong connection.
You’ve previously collaborated with Joy Crookes. Who else would you love to work with?
Shout out to aunty Crookes. Emm I’d love to work with Col3trane, Pa Salieu, Kojey Radical, Wretch 32, Hamzaa etc. A lot of people tbh from the Uk and a whole lot from the US, like Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Sza, Lucky Daye, Dominic Fike etc.
Where do you hope you’ll be in 5 years time, career-wise?
In five years I’m seeing myself having dropped like 2 classic albums, having sold out a European tour for my own projects. Having landed a few of my dream features and also being in a better position to put some of my people on.