Bursting with slick flows, intricate rhyming, and – wordplay, ‘Bread & Wine’ is a vibrant re-introduction of the rapper, J.Eka . With the help of producer TwinTwo (Headie One, SL, Ms Banks), the single is bursting with the best elements of UK Rap. We speak to J.Eka, formerly known as Jayo, about this game-changing release…

Hey J.Eka, we love Bread & Wine here at Urbanista! It’s so great to be able to interview you on your amazing debut release.

It’s so good to talk to you!

‘Bread & Wine’ marks your return to the music scene. How does this single set the tone for your upcoming projects and what message do you hope to convey to your listeners?

The tone is ‘evolution’. I have grown as a person and my music, my knowledge has grown with me. I wanted to come back with high energy, I feel like ‘Bread & Wine’ shows the beginning of that. I am quite literally ‘back and better than ever’. Everything I release now is intentional and well thought through with a purpose and meaning. Even the way I create music is different now. I’ve truly elevated as an artist and I intend to show that with my coming releases.

This debut under the moniker J.Eka marks a new chapter in your career. How does this phase differ from your earlier work as Jayo, and what prompted the change in your stage name?

I made the decision to step back, analyse and then elevate, not only the quality of the music I was making, but my environment and surroundings. During that process, I realised that in order to transcend, I needed to change my name. Changing my artist name represents my rebirth in the music scene. It even goes beyond just the music, it’s now my outlook on life and the art it imitates that has changed. It felt like God’s plan and timing. Sometimes when you know, you know. It feels right.

‘Bread & Wine’ is such a vibrant re-introduction of your music. Can you tell us more about the creative process behind this single and what inspired its themes?

I wanted something that had that UK energy! It felt like that song that’s perfect for every occasion, every playlist. Once we’d sorted the drum pattern, which was drill inspired, we sorted the melodic elements of the beat which brought it to life. After that, it really set the scene. That’s all I needed to begin writing. I often find that I need to feel something in order to create, so that’s what I did. Initially, all I had was one verse, but we already knew it was special. I took it home, wrote and recorded the rest then sent it back to TwinTwo for mixing/mastering. Then the rest is history!

Working with producer TwinTwo must have been so exciting. How did this collaboration come about, and what was it like working with him on this track?

We actually met for the first time at a networking event in South London a couple of years ago and clicked instantly, especially when discussing music and creative inspirations. We’d hit the studio a couple times that year but didn’t really leave with anything that felt release worthy. But God’s plan.. We linked up again last December and created Bread & Wine.

In what ways do you think your South East London roots have shaped your musical style and the stories you tell through your lyrics?

Well, I was born and raised in South East London. It’s filled with a wide range of culture that emanates wherever you go. The culture and energy is just infectious. I believe there’s a lot of talent in South, some of my favourite artists, both known and unknown, are from there. A lot of them were and still are often overlooked because of the rough stigma South is associated with. Nevertheless, it’s got an undeniable energy that wins everyone over once they give it a chance. In a way, it’s an analogy for how I view my music. Most might not get it at surface level, but it’s my aim to make sure it’s appreciated at a much deeper one.

As someone who has been active in the music scene since 2012, how do you see the evolution of UK rap and hip-hop, and where do you see your place within this evolving landscape?

I think a lot has changed since I started making music back then. I find that more and more you get people hopping into the industry for a quick cash in/cash out. The rise in social media and bit sized content clips has also impacted the music industry significantly, often confining an artists work to mere seconds or “content”. With that being said though, I do think things will loop back around to authenticity and unfiltered truth in the rap industry and music in general. We’re living in hard times with lots going on, sometimes escapism feels patronising to those going through real life. As artists, we almost have a responsibility to speak on current events and life through our eyes or perspectives. I see myself being that voice of authenticity and inspiration when the world needs it.

We’ve heard that your live shows are truly something special. What do you enjoy most about performing, and how do you prepare for your shows to ensure they leave a lasting impression on your audience?

I love the idea that something I wrote in my bedroom could be elevated and brought to life to people in front of me. There’s something about visually seeing your music resonate with people that’s electrifying! It’s been a while since I’ve performed, I can’t lie. But I often prepare for my shows by going over my lyrics repeatedly, I make sure I know everything inside out, to the point where it’s muscle memory. I never drink before a show, I’d rather be anxious with an edge instead of too relaxed or sloppy. When it’s showtime, I give it my all and try to remember to stay confident, an audience can tell straight away if you’re nervous and it can make the atmosphere awkward. I remind myself that it’s MY music they’re about to hear, so I can stand by it. I know that the music I make is of high quality and from a genuine place. I have faith in my work and I have faith in my preparation to showcase my work.

Do you have any shows coming up where we can hear ‘Bread & Wine’ live?

No shows lined up yet where you can hear Bread & Wine but I recently did a short live cypher at ‘Balamii’, the footage should be released pretty shortly. For the meantime, I’m focused on releasing more music before doing any live sets again. You guys need the full J.Eka experience and trust me, you can’t get that out of one song.

As someone who is not only a musician but also recognized for your fashion sense, how do you see the relationship between music and fashion, and how do you use both to express your identity?

Music and fashion have been intertwined since the birth of rap/hip-hop music. They’re practically inseparable at this point. I think that partaking in fashion was always meant to be. Image is everything in this industry. Fashion is an extension of who I am and a visual representation of my art. I have to thank my partner Lala Roswess, who is my Image Architect and stylist. She always finds a way to bridge the gap between the music, my personality and the fashion.

Thank you so much for talking with us J.Eka! Can’t wait to see what the rest of this year has in store for you after this incredible debut. 

Listen to Bread & Wine Here

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Lauren Webber

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