Now here is another talent the culture will definitely have to take seriously sooner than later. J.S.K XXVI is a pretty new name in the mainstream spotlight, and his art is about to stir up the game. With a unique hip hop sound and authentic delivery, J.S.K XXVI’s story is only beginning, and we can only wait for the impact. Having a score of 11,000 votes to make it as one of HYPE’s Freshmen, here is his story.
Before we discuss the journey so far, let’s talk about the beginning. How did
J.S.K XXVI get into this hip hop culture we love so much?
Honestly? The late Tupac Amaru Shakur got me into rap. That reads pretty much like a hackneyed rapper answer (as some would say), but if I ceased to mention it, I believe I’d be clinching a huge part of why I’m here. What kept me here would spill out a whole different answer though. I started off at a time when rap wasn’t even a topic at the table. Now one would need to understand that I’m a big fan of the English language, which saw me start off as a poet then later on into rap, producing, visual editing etc. Also what kept me rapping was not being stopped from doing it. None of this (apart from the English language) was taught to me, and nobody at the time had the patience to teach me, so I taught myself. That’s the ultimate drive: the willingness to learn.
When did that ‘I really want to do this music thing seriously’ moment hit you? Because people tend to do hip hop for the thrill of it, but for the selected few it becomes something bigger.
When people around me started listening to my records for the lyrics. That’s when I knew this was meant for the Taurus. I’ve always taken pride in writing and in the art of music creation, but for someone to listen to all that is a big ‘go ahead’ for an artist like myself.
You’ve come a long way with the music, from starting out in 2008 to those Frequencies EPs. Considering everything that has happened in your journey so far, the good, bad and ugly, what kind of artist would you say you’re finally emerging into?
An experimental artist. I find myself writing the craziest songs and being featured in a variety of genres. I’ve allowed music to work in me and groom the artist I’m becoming. Most who have stepped into the studio with me have told me that I’m “crazy” to say the least. Having my fair share of ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’, I love what I’m emerging into and giving the people the best music of this life.
Anybody can start something, but it’s keeping up the momentum that truly makes one stand out. Where does J.S.K XXVI find his constant flow of musical inspiration?
I draw most of my inspiration from what I learn. I love learning more than I love teaching, actually. I acquire as much knowledge as I possibly can about as much as I can. The ever-so-changing world is inspiration to me. I believe you cannot change the world if you know nothing about it.
We assume that you must’ve imagined SA hip hop would’ve given you the spotlight you deserve by now. I mean looking at your accolades and consistency, are there certain frustrations that you’ve experienced with regard to the culture’s reception of your artistry? If so, how have you managed to overlook them?
This is by far my favourite question of all time. One time for the interviewer. You can get all the advice you want in life, but nothing prepares you for the conflict between where you are and what you’re getting. That’s the ultimate frustration. I’ve had fans say: “How haven’t you blown up? Were you not number one on a few big radio stations? You make the greatest music and I think you deserve the spotlight.” To which I answer: if we compared fortunes, I would not know how special they are to me and how I am to them. Life is not fair, but who said it has to be? This is what I have to do for them and myself. It’s the journey that teaches you everything and not the destination itself. Consistency says “Fall down, get up and keep going.” The culture has had no problem accepting J.S.K XXVI, considering that the number one South African hip hop magazine (which is the biggest preserver of South African hip hop) features the Frequencies kid. The rest of the world will eventually catch on, but until then.
Word. S/O for that praise. When we dropped the Freshman link, the people really voted for you and kept you part of the circle. How did the support make you feel, and what do you honestly think of the selected? Real talk.
One time for everyone who voted. People really came through for the kid. Nothing beats the art of reaching out to people first physically and then through social media. More than anything, the smile on the faces of people who truly support you will save your life as an artist. I was overwhelmed by the support to be honest. I was selected among really hard-working people, and trust me, I am honoured to be part of the top seven. I also hope to hear more from the rest in future.
To conclude, what overall impact does J.S.K XXVI want to have in SA hip hop as a whole?
I believe the sole purpose of an artist is to spark a light of positivity among people. I chose to be part of a big culture and to moonwalk from peer pressure to leading hearts, which is nothing to take lightly. I’ve had people say they look up to me, and that’s another form of pressure, because now you have eyes on you. However, what you make of that pressure determines whether the pressure is positive or negative. One of my own favourite quotes is: “For every time you think of doing something, someone is doing it with you.” So if you chose to give up today, know that someone who looks up to you might give up too. As hip hop/rap artists, musicians, writers and creatives we have a responsibility, and as soon as we neglect that responsibility we gear up for a downfall. How are you going to bring yourself down when the world is already working on it? Lastly, I would want people to grow a deep urge for learning. Learn people’s cultures, how they think, how they manoeuvre and react.