I recently sat down with Kai Jones, a 21-year old artist from South East London who has been making music since 2008 and has just released her project “This Is Not A Mixtape”. The project showcases Kai’s ability to rap and sing over production by her go-to producer Damien Cooke and Negus Beats. In this detailed conversation Kai opens up on the decision she made to do what she loves, her thoughts on the term “female rapper” and also her future plans.
Hello Kai Jones, how are you doing?
Hey I’m good thanks.
Congratulations on the recent release TINAM (This Is Not A Mixtape) , how long did you work on it?
Thank you! It’s been a longtime coming *laughs* – me and Damien worked on the project for just over a year but some songs are about two years old.
You said you quit your job recording TINAM, do you feel like you made the right decision? Or was your old job getting in the way of pursuing your dreams?
Yeah I did that was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make so far, but it was a risk I knew I had to make to move forward and it 100% was the right decision. I just got to a point where I was really down and I realised life is too short to spend time doing something you don’t love.
I agree. The project itself is one of the best I’ve heard this year, so I’m glad you didn’t give up on it. Now, you’re in a male dominated genre, as an artist what message are you trying to convey?
Wow thank you I am too! You know I don’t really like to focus on conveying a certain message just because the industry is male dominated, at the end of the day we’re all artists no matter our gender. My aim is to inspire boys, girls just everyone! I want to show the youth there is more to life than the area you were raised in.
Do you feel as though as female rappers are often overlooked?
Ermm that’s always a difficult one because on one hand it’s a bit easier because there is less people to compete with, but I really do feel like the UK industry is a bit confused about how to market female rappers and don’t really know what to do with them yet. I’m not a female rapper so I’m cool though *laughs*.
Yeah that’s something I really wanted to introduce people to on this project. I have been singing for as long as I can remember, I would say over 10 years.
Wow. So you’re on course to be a triple threat then, is producing something you’d like to do in the future as well?
*laughs* That’s the plan, that’s definitely something I am learning at the moment I started producing in secondary school so I’m getting back into the swing of things.
That sounds cool. Most of the project was produced by Damien Cooke of Neo Chic, you flow effortlessly over his production, how did you two start working together?
That’s my big brother not by blood, but he is family to me we just click, he just gets me musically and I get him. It’s a really long story but he is my big cousins friend so he has known me for most of my life and when I started to take an interest in music seriously, I approached him to work and after ringing him 100 times, he finally agreed to have a session and the rest is history now we’re like a dream team *laughs*.
100 times! Well, I’m glad he finally answered *laughs*. Can I just say, everything about “Underwater” is flawless. It’s my favourite track on the project as it’s very relatable to me. What inspired you and Damien to record this track?
Ah thank you that’s actually one of my favourites as well if I had to show someone just one of my tracks it would be “Underwater”. At the time of writing that song I was in quite a dark space I just felt stuck in life. I wanted to quit my job but was scared and was doubting myself, it was a weird time for me but what we created out of that situation was amazing. Everything happens for a reason I guess!
I couldn’t agree more. Alright, as most people know you as a rapper, can you name us your top 5 dead or alive rappers?
I always dodge this question, ermm let me see in no order: 2 Pac, Kanye West, Nas, Wretch 32 and Kano.
Why those rappers?
2 Pac for me was more than a rapper he spoke for the people and that’s what I loved about him. Kanye, I just love Kanye, his creativity and ability to reinvent himself. I’ve always loved Nas as my cousins used to be obsessed with him so I really had no choice *laughs*. Wretch and Kano if I had to show anyone from outside of the UK our best rappers, I would show them these two for me they are the best.
Cool! When did you start rapping?
I starting rapping at around 14 possibly before because I started spitting on grime beats.
Okay, imagine you were given a chance to record a track with two rappers and to choose a producer of your choice to produce the beat for it, who would it be and why?
Whoa this is a hard question. I work off vibes, you know how people say you shouldn’t meet your idols? I just don’t know. Right now I’m thinking me and Kanye would sound good but what if I meet him and he’s an a**hole? *laughs* – that would mean we can’t work.
*laughs* I’m sure he’d be cool though. Let’s get into your singing, name us 5 singers you looked up to growing up?
My mum listened to most genres so it’s difficult to pin point five but I would say: Lauryn Hill, Bob Marley, Aaliyah, Chris Brown, Craig David just to name a few.
Would you ever release some sort of EP where you only sing?
It’s funny you ask that, it possibly could be what’s coming next.
*laughs* Interesting! So, what else is next for Kai Jones?
What’s next? God willing 2016 is a big year for me, I am really focused on pushing and doing my best with the “This Is Not A Mixtape” project because I believe in the music so much. So you can expect visuals, shows and a lot of new music theres no breaks now.