East London rapper, poet and observer Jay Prince has just released a soulful, melodious new mixtape. It is called ‘Smile Good’, invoking the kind of feel good groove that you feel through the entire project.
The artist, hailing from Newham, Camden Town grew up in an area dominated by the burgeoning grime scene. At school everyone talked about Wiley, Skepta and Chipmunk, and grime was a local love, not the global genre that it has become with the rise of Stormzy and other huge acts this year. Surprisingly however, these surroundings don’t seem to have influenced his sound, which is more of a gospel - funk inspired hip hop / soul vibe.
Much of the sound on the album can be explained by his influences. He said “I listened to a lot of RnB, very low-key music. I was born in the 90’s but mostly grew up in the early 2000’s. I listened to all the Ja Rules and Nellys. I did my homework and listened to J Dilla, Slum Village and DJ Premier. I’m a fan of that old school, it was my vibe for a long time. Ultimately, my music comes from the 90’s, to the 2000’s to right now. Outside of music, it’s just my life, family and friends that inspire me.”
This is the first project he has recorded and released since finishing university. When asked about the environment he was in and the differences between recording while at school and university he said “At university, I worked on Beautiful Mercy and Before Our Time [his last two EPs]. Luckily, I studied Music and Media. All I ever did everyday was music, so it kind of helped. Except for the rhyming, that was only for fun. So I had to prioritise. I always put school first and handed my assignments on time. But I made sure to make time for music. The same way you have to eat food and sleep.”
Since graduation the artist has amassed a considerable following on Soundcloud, currently at 47,000 followers on the platform. He has gone on to pen several collaborations with the LA record label and DJ collective Soulection, and is set to support Chicago’s golden boy Chance The Rapper later this month in Europe.
The 8 song long mixtape follows his 2015 release ‘Beautiful Mercy’. He teased of the release a couple days ago by sharing the lead track ‘Father, Father’, co produced by Mile Riley. It is a mostly self produced project, but includes features from the likes of Danny Seth, Michael Christmas, Raheaven and Jordan Rakei on the tracklist. In a recent press release accompanying the project, Jay Prince had the following words to say about the project: “With this mixtape I wanted to highlight the hard times in my life, my background, my upbringing, relationships I have been in and also my religion. All the pivotal moments that have made me who I am at this moment in time.”
The pain he speaks of is evident in heart tugging songs such as ‘All In’, with the piano heavy sample and in ‘Go East’, a track that sounds like it could have been influenced by the US RnB superstar Ty Dolla Sign.
If the past is anything to go by, then this mixtape should be very successful as a proponent of the internet generation. His EPs last year amassed over 4 million streams and led to support collaborations with the likes of Major Lazer and Jess Glynne.
NME Presents … Future Sounds of London
The artist isn’t going to rest on his laurels. Next week he is set to headline the NME Presents … Future Sounds of London gig. He joins a strong line up including the likes of A2, the Nova Twins and Wanderlust. The show will take place in Croydon, London, to celebrate the opening of a new Boxpark in the area. The event is currently being hyped as a showcase of the hottest new talent in the capital. Tickets to the event are free, but balloted.
In a recent interview with the NME, Prince said that “as an artist you should always push yourself to do something that hasn’t been done before.” This is something that is really evident in this new project, one that continues to champion a soulful sound, but has heavily experimental undertones.
Jay Prince is indeed one of the hottest new artists in the UK scene. Listen to ‘Smile Good’ now and you’ll see what we mean.
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