The previously more monolithic Irish hip hop scene is benefitting from an increasingly more diverse range of artists. Percy Chamburuka AKA Jafaris is at the forefront of a crop of artists knocking at the door of the international music industry.
His debut album, ‘Stride’ [see our review here] represented trying to make sense of life’s journey; reflecting on past experiences, learning to exercise self-care and pre meditating potential pitfalls. Jafaris’ potential is frighteningly evident; his pop infused hooks, rapid fire flows and charismatic nature suggests he has the tools needed to weather the competitive storm of the music industry.
Despite his obvious talent and potential, Jafaris maintains an admirable sense of humility.
“Going into this tour I was so oblivious I had people in Limerick and Galway really listening to me. It felt so real in Limerick, the energy was real. It felt like the headline show, the support was crazy and people knew the lyrics.”
“As an artist its always just been the passion for music and it’s always been a dream. It never felt like it was going to be a career, it was just for fun but now I'm in that dream I have to make it grow. I’m coming into my own where I’m having to push this album forward”.
A strong sense of self-awareness radiates through every thought that transpires; he is very conscious of the collective effort required for success and pays homage to Diffusion Lab.
“That’s the only reason I am where I’m at. I was doing music 3/4 years before Diffusion Lab, I was a different person, I was Profound. I was getting better but it wasn’t moving or piercing through the way I wanted, it was very underground. When I met them, the instant thought was 'ok let’s get this on radio, let’s keep moving forward' and it’s been full steam ahead since. Everyone has a part to play in Jafaris, I don’t even hold Jafaris as my thing, It’s more like a team effort.”
"Everyone has a part to play in Jafaris, I don’t even hold Jafaris as my thing, It’s more like a team effort.”
This reflective undertone was present throughout the interview and there was a real sense of gratitude embedded in what he had to say. The album’s conceptual fabric consists of deliberately relatable material; and the piece continues to live through these inquisitive notions that still remain relevant.
“I’ve had these conversations that have kept the album alive. The album still affects me. Things that are real, that are real challenges and are things that happen. Songs like ‘Silver Bullet’ and ‘Ghost’ and others that talk about procrastination are still ongoing things.”
The ‘Stride’ experience stretches beyond the relatable lyrical content; It’s the visuals that flesh out the immersive experience. Through the help of visual artist and Director Nathan Barlow, Jafaris has been able to bring the messages to life.
“When we talk about videos we always mention ‘Jafaris’ World’ and that’s something we want to portray. I want be a visual artist, the music is one aspect of it and the visuals add a whole other dynamic. People are resonating more with them because the videos maybe show things that people miss in the songs.”
"Now it’s like nah forget the UK they have their own thing, forget America we need to build our own thing."
This incredible production value demonstrated in both the album in visuals has created a sense of expectation; however rather than shying away from that expectation Jafaris is keen to use his platform to uplift the scene as a whole.
“I want to take on that challenge and be more of an advocate. When I started the conversation it was always when are we going to get out of Ireland? Now it’s like nah forget the UK they have their own thing, forget America we need to build our own thing. The problem is we haven’t made our culture cool enough for the outside to be like what’s going on there, why aren’t we invited.”
“I feel very connected to people in the scene. There’s a lot of light on me and I feel like it takes away from others, but I don’t want it to stay with me, I'm just one of a huge sea of talent. I'm blessed to have diffusion lab and if I can shed light on others that don’t have the help I have I will”.
As the conversation ends it really produced some food for thought. In asking Jafaris how the culture needs to move forward in Ireland, it only produced more questions. Questions that will persist until more Irish hip hop artists break out internationally. This incremental process will no doubt be supported by one of the emerald isle’s most supportive stars.