- Words Ryan Cahill
We get to grips with the East London's rising rap star.
Jay Prince is the UK’s rising rap icon set to make his mark on the industry. He was recently handpicked by Chance, The Rapper to support him on tour, joining the likes of Major Lazer, Mura Masa and Mick Jenkins – a stellar line-up to say the least. He’s also enjoying a wave of positive reviews on the back of his recent EP, Wonder, which he dropped at the end of January. Consisting of 7-tracks, it proves that he’s one of the most gifted rappers of our generation, and will undoubtedly joining the likes of Skepta and Stormzy in the top tier of British rap acts.
“Putting together this body of work was a time (and still is) where I had to face truths about myself,” he says of Wonder. “Understanding my personal growth at a time where Iʼve had to adapt to a lot of change as I get older, honing into the artist that Iʼm becoming.”
“It became about channelling a freedom for myself in a society full of constraints, where people are judged and feel like they canʼt be themselves or feel like they have to live up to a standard where expression is so limited and tamed. ‘Wonder’ is about breaking those boundaries and false ideals that we think we need in order to survive or get by in this world. Understanding that you are the centrepiece to life itself is how I believe we truly flourish; having the strength to be yourself and dig deep trying to figure that out.”
As he continues to ride the wave of his new-found success, we grabbed a hot minute with Prince to quiz him on everything from his favourite albums to the best advise he’s ever been given…
Tell us, what is your first memory of music?
I remember being a kid and my father always playing music in the house – he did this everyday, I remember always vibing to it: from Congolese Gospel music to Bob Marley. As a kid heʼd ask me what I thought was being said in “One Love” by Bob Marley to see if I was really listening.
Tell us one thing nobody / not many people know about you.
I’m really into film photography and films in general – I love to write, and score ideas for my own potential movies. I also love sports – football is something I wanted to pursue growing up as a kid – that was the number one dream at the time but for obvious reasons things changed and took a different direction now that I make art.
What was the first song you ever wrote?
The first song I wrote, if Iʼm correct is one I did years ago – on one of my first mixtapes called LOUNGE IN PARIS called “Chilled”. To be honest all those songs there were something I did for the first time so take your pick, haha.
Whatʼs the best advice youʼve ever been given?
Staying true to myself always, in everything I do.
"BEAMLIGHT" by Jay Prince
What has been your biggest achievement?
Seeing my family proud of me, and seeing my music being able to inspire others.
Which fictional character do you most relate to and why?
This was a tough one, but Iʼd say Naruto Uzumaki [from the Japanese manga ’Naruto’] – he’s a tenacious character, he’s got a big heart but stands strong in what he believes in. He’s determined to become the best he can be and will fight and is even willing to die for what he believes in, to get to where he needs to be. I respect that.
How was high school?
High school was one of my favourite times growing up, I enjoyed going to school, especially in Newham, East London: there were so many people from different countries, backgrounds and cultures in that school, it was really a melting pot and you could just learn so much about everything, and on top of that it was just a great time – I’m grateful for those days for sure.
Which super power would you most like to have, and why?
Understanding and being to speak every language on earth. I just feel like we communicate to a certain level; I speak 3 languages and the way I express myself in those 3 languages, there are certain things that canʼt be translated or understood if I were to say it in another, so that fascinates me. But I also think that’s a super power thats achievable…
What is one album that totally changed your life?
There are many albums that have really touched me and Iʼve been able to relate to and grow with, but Mos Def “Black On Both Sides” is the one for me.
Where/what will you be doing at the end of the world?
I guess weʼll have to wait and see.