West Yorkshire emcee 1Jack has dropped his second edition of ‘throwaway’ tracks on Bandcamp. Rough Tapes 2, released in March, is the perfect introduction into the world of the 22-year-old creative who, although residing in a town notorious for its wool production, creates products on the colder end of the thermostat.
(I caught up with 1Jack via some Instagram voice notes on the day the world received news of the passing of rap legend DMX. We spoke before either of us learned of the news, which made his inclusion in Jack’s inspirations even more notable.)
Just like most 20-somethings, Jack was raised on his older brother’s CDs. These just happened to include DMX’s ‘It’s Dark Hell Is Hot’ as well as 2Pac’s ‘All Eyez On Me’, staples from the formative years of hip hop- from which most rap artists you know now will owe part of their sound to. “That album ‘It’s Dark Hell Is Hot’ straight up I’ve probably listened to hundreds of times. Mobb Deep ‘Hell On Earth’ is probably the biggest one. It made me use my voice in a different way. Prodigy as a rapper is heavily one of my favourite rappers. He’s just cold with it man, that H.N.I.C album, especially ‘You Can Never Feel My Pain’.” Jack had no problem relaying his earliest inspirations, artists that he had listened to as young as five, whilst also showing disdain towards artists who are not so open about their musical motivations. “People try to hide that shit cause they’re tryna bite off it as their own, but I like to say who I’m influenced by. It’s something more people should do rather than tryna cat it as their own steeze.”
He touched upon UK artists too, more recent influences, and some he has gone on to work with. “Thought I gotta mention some of the UK ones… like Jack Danz I used to listen to his shit, and now I’ve gone on to know him, it’s all good shit.” Danz is behind the beat for ‘twisted up’, which also features esteemed spitter Jack Jetson; all share a similar direction in their sound. The usual suspects from the UK scene were also mentioned: “I was put onto Jehst, Farma G, Chester P and Skinnyman when I was like 12 or something, so like ‘Council Estate of Mind’ and Jehst’s albums were heavy influences.”
When it comes to putting tracks together, words over beats, it’s all as and when. “It changes every tune I write,” says Jack, “a lot of the tunes on here like that, 04:16 AM’ I’m just high as fuck in bed, playing beats, thinking about my life and writing about it.” Although not all tracks were put together at dusk, ‘twisted up’ resulted from Jetson staying at Jacks for a couple of days before going over to the White Brick Mansion. “That’s where the magic happens basically. It’s where we all go to spit, the two guys Arlee Loops and Selrok who produced my last two tunes, it’s their yard basically”. Every label, or group of artists, needs a creative space which they can set fire to; a safe space where minutes become hours and hours days, but ultimately bars and beats become future tunes.
The future was where the voice notes took us next. Jack has done this alongside a regular job and hopes to continue in this manner. “It’s something that I’ll always do; obviously, I’ve made a little bit off shows or whatever, but I’ve never looked at it as a career.” He hopes as his following increases, and if the right time did come, he could put out a ‘proper album’. “If it got to the point where enough people are listening, I could drop a solid what I’d call a proper album and have people streaming it, then maybe it could work, but still you gotta do bits and bobs to get by. I dunno if I’d ever been living off just music.”
Artists’ authenticity is something that wears thinner and thinner the more reputable they become. 1jack, self-releasing music recorded on his laptop mic in the early hours of the morning, really could be the epitome of authenticity. He’s going to do this whether he makes money or not, that is secondary to the love of the art, and I’ll tell you what, he is making some lovely art. Rough Tapes 2 is out exclusively on 1Jack’s Bandcamp.