- Words Malvika Padin
- Photography THOMPSON
- Production Studio Notion
One of the most authentic young voices in Ireland’s growing hip-hop scene, JyellowL’s career has been an uphill battle that he has triumphed over.
Championing authenticity and encouraging everyone to represent themselves proudly, Dublin rapper JyellowL delivers socially conscious music that draws inspiration from within and from those around him in the wider world. Whether on his singles “Mademoiselle” and “Tunnel Vision,’ the 21-year-old rapper has worked to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with.
Born to Jamaican and Nigerian parents, and with his formative years spent growing up in Ireland, the rising star – who considers his go-getter mother his biggest inspiration- channels his own experience with having a misplaced sense of belonging within the Irish rap scene into his lyrics combining it with rich, diverse musicality.
JyellowL is relentless in his pursuit of finding a place for himself in the music scene and he’s achieved it through sheer hard work and pure talent. With his musical goals on the right path, he is working to grow as a person and view himself in a positive light that shines with pride in his identity and self-love.
Speaking to Notion, the rapper – who recently featured in the BBC Three series Rap Trip – tells us about his experience, delves into the changes he’d like to see in the Irish rap scene, and exclusively reveals the release date for his upcoming LP ‘2020 Division’, among other things.
How was your experience being involved in Rap Trip? What was the important lesson or memory you took away from the experience?
It was a great experience seeing what goes into the making of a TV show like that, especially on a platform like the BBC. We had so much content over a week of filming that didn’t even make the final cut. The most important lesson I learned was to always be aware and on top of how you’re being portrayed and depicted in the media so as not to allow for misrepresentation.
Despite being part of the Irish rap scene, you have found it difficult to be accepted as an Irish rapper. What changes do you wish to see in terms of acceptance and growth within the genre?
I think the misplaced sense of belonging runs way deeper than the genre. I’ve had so many encounters, physical and virtual, that have really made me question my Irish identity. The change I’d like to see is idealistic and probably never going to happen because you can’t control how people view you but you can control your view of yourself, I’m more so trying to create change and growth within myself and get to a point where I’m unbothered by people not accepting me as Irish. I’m getting there for sure.
Your latest single “Tunnel Vision” dropped today and is taken from your forthcoming LP. What can you reveal about the LP?
Well, the one thing I can reveal about 2020 D|vision exclusively for Notion is the release date, which is…20th of November !
How would you describe your sound? How do you hope for it to evolve over time?
I’d describe it like a pack of Skittles, a combination of flavours that create a sweet sensation, but when you dip blindly into it you never know what you’re going to get. The flavours and combinations represent my versatility and rich musical ear.
In terms of songwriting, your lyrics have been described as “socially conscious”, where do you draw your inspiration from? Would you say your songwriting is more introspective or is it influenced by the world around you?
I get inspired by everyday life, it could be a conversation with somebody, something I see while driving on the motorway, things going on in my personal life or bigger issues going on in the world. So I’d say it’s definitely a balance between introspective and being influenced by the external world. However, I spend most of my time with myself, and that allows for a lot of self-reflection and understanding which I typically document through my music.
Who inspires you both professionally and on a personal level?
My mum is a big inspiration to me, in her personal life and her professional life. A real Go-getter who never forfeits her responsibilities. Watching how she’s overcome so many challenges and excelled in her career simultaneously really motivates me to be relentless with my work ethic and resilient in my career.
If listeners could take away one message from your music, what would you want that to be?
I want them to get and internalise the message of authenticity, being themselves and taking control of their own narrative. My whole vision behind the album was to set out a blueprint that young aspiring artists, where I’m from, can refer to. I want artists to be able to represent themselves, truly.
For you personally, what’s the best part of making music? What’s the most frustrating part of it?
The best part of making music for me is hearing how an idea in your head comes to life in the studio. I also love getting people’s initial reaction to songs I play them, that always gets me gassed. The most frustrating part of it for me is when a song you put so much of yourself into goes unrecognised and falls under the radar.
If you had to describe your musical journey so far in three words, what would they be and why?
An uphill battle! It’s been a grind. Trying to make it from a place where people don’t make it out of through Hip hop & dealing with a unique strain of crabs in a barrel mentality in your hometown because they’re not accustomed to seeing people make it on a large scale. Creating my own opportunities through trial and error because I had no relatable reference points. However, at the end of the battle is triumph. That’s what this next chapter is called.