In 2005, London born rapper Jamieson took his hustle to the home of hip hop, New York and settled in South Bronx to develop his music career. Since then some he has released some impressive rap, including his “I Came, I Saw” three-part trilogy. He has also dabbled with some of the finest names in hip hop including Joell Ortiz, RZA and he also opened up from Mobb Deep. As he gets ready to bring out his latest EP “Nothing To Lose“, OTCUTV caught up with the rapper to get the low down with him.
So it seems like you’ve been away from the scene a little since you came back with music in January 2014. Give us an update about what you have been up to.
Basically the last year or so I’ve been busy putting together this project, “Nothing To Lose” which is the EP that I’m releasing and promoting now. In March last year I got the privilege to perform at SXSW. So at the beginning of the year I was really busy getting a band together for that because when I generally perform it’s with a DJ but at SXSW I put a band together and took the band out there to perform so to kind of give it more of a musical feel. For the first part of last year I was doing a lot of rehearsing and lot of live shows to solidify that aspect of my game and really also putting together this EP which was supposed to come out in August, then September, then November. There were so many hurdles in the way and the way it panned out we were just like, you know, let’s just wait till 2014 to put it out.
You decided to leave the UK and pursue your career as an artist in the US, which seems to have run in your favour. Why do you think the US has received your music so well?
I think, first of all, in the UK you’ve got grime and the drum ‘n’ bass kind of scene which is really massive and there’s a lot of great talent in those respective fields. But the kind of music I was coming out with was more like your traditional kind of East Coast American hip hop with a British accent and there wasn’t much of a lane for that over in the UK. Coming out here they really appreciate lyrics, and they appreciate it in London as well, but for me it seems like they appreciate more Americans coming back out to Europe who have an East Coast feel as opposed to kind of supporting their own rap artists. But within 16 bars they can always appreciate and respect what I was doing and I think I got a lot more attention because I was different but I was able to do it really well, without sounding too cocky. I also think they really respect hustle out here. I know everyone throws the “hustle” word out, but they really do respect when they hear my story and it locks them in.
Has being from the UK advantaged you, just because you are different and the differences create some curiosity?
I definitely think so. If it you put me in a room with five American rappers, I’m going to be the first one to stand out because of my accent. Again I don’t want to sound cocky, but if I was wack then it wouldn’t work. But because I can compete with what’s going on out here and it’s respectable, it definitely works to my advantage. I don’t look like your typical rapper either. I’ve also been told that people are able to understand me when I rap because if you look at Dizzee Rascal for example, or even someone like Tinie Tempah, a lot of the feedback I get from Americans is that they’re not able to understand what is being said and it’s a shame as there are lots of UK artists that are very good and they are saying something but they are not understood. Whilst I do have the accent people are able to understand what I’m saying, I think that’s a big benefit.
What do you think of the UK music industry compared to the US?
I think definitely for hip hop and urban music, there’s more of a lane. Like 8 or 9 years ago when I left London there was absolutely no lane for hip hop. Like now you’re getting a lot more commercial success with artists like Tinie Tempah who raps over pop-influenced beats. You’ve got Professor Green doing the same thing and they’re achieving great things. A lot of the labels you find in the UK, like Universal, EMI, Warner, Sony, they’re labels that are run from America. My mentality when I first came here was if I could come to New York and get some kind of hook up at the base of where everything happens, it could benefit me a lot, and it did thank god. But I definitely think the rap scene in the UK has opened up and it’s become a lot more commercial and it wasn’t like that when I left. If it did have that lane or that opportunity, I wouldn’t probably have come out here, because I would have been able to do it out there.
You’ve always felt there were limited opportunities for “your kind of hip hop”. What do you think of the UK hip hop scene now, where would you fit in?
When I first came out to America and I started releasing music, there was a lot of emphasis on just promoting out here in America. Obviously with the scene now expanding the UK, I would be stupid not to promote out in the UK as a UK artists. Now there’s a lane for me to promote out there. So I definitely think there’s a lane for me out there, I just think I’m so invested out here now and I’ve got a name for myself out here, and I’ve been working so hard out here that I’m able to be here, but still be able to do out there in the UK. I don’t think I’m just limited to just being in the UK. I’m always going to go where my opportunity leads me to and if that’s the UK, I’ll go back to the UK and if it’s out here, then it’s out here. But I still think there’s a lot more opportunity out here than there is the UK.
Who are some of the UK artists that interest you?
Right now, I respect what the Tinie Tempahs and the Professor Greens have done. I think it’s good for the UK, I don’t know if I’m a fan of their music. But I can respect the fact that I remember 10 years ago being at the Jump Off and seeing Professor Green battling and if you look to where he’s come to now, it’s something that I can really admire, but then again I’m not really a huge fan of his. Rap wise, there’s an artist called Kinetik, he’s an underground rap artist who I really like. Dizzee Rascal is cool. There’s not a lot of hip hop that is mainstream in the UK that I listen to. I don’t think there’s anyone in the UK that has been able to make a good rap song that is commercial. It’s a tough one
How important is it for you to maintain a connection with the UK scene?
Whilst my home for the last 8-9 years has been over here, London is where I from. I go back to London 2-3 times a year. I think it’s very important for me to still be in-rooted about what’s going on over there and I wish I could be more. I really wish if I could take the New York opportunity and take it to London, in heartbeat, I’d do it, but unfortunately, it’s just not the way the cookie’s crumbled. But you know I’m always still on UK websites, checking out who’s doing what and I always trying keep my ear out and see what people are doing.
Written by Nikita Rathod