For some acts in hip-hop, R&B is often seen as a softer genre, not to be indulged in beyond the occasional feature verse. However, over time, more high-profile British rappers are dabbling in the sound sonically. Stormzy, for example, sampled the R&B-tinged Big Brovaz single “Baby Boy” on his recent effort ‘Heavy Is The Head’.
For Croydon-based lyricist Jords, R&B anchors a large proportion of his music to date and serves as a crucial ingredient to his sonic concoction. Formally debuting in the mid-10s, the hybrid-act has released multiple singles and projects, testing and evolving his sound as time presses on. Something that remains constant, however, is his ability to marinade his numbers in components of the past, in turn, making them feel nostalgic. Whether it’s the skits and adlibs on “Tek Time,” or the samples on “Swing”, Jords is committed to painting the whole picture for listeners.
As the multi-talented act prepares to release his currently untitled next project, slated for later in the year, GUAP caught up with Jords to discuss his journey to date.
GUAP: How would you say that your sound has evolved across both “Before We Begin,” and “After The Ends”?
Jords: I think at the time, I started to produce stuff myself, this process was hard at first, so I’ve learned more as time has gone on. I’ve become so much more myself now too, now I have complete control. As you can hear, I’m playing a lot more with samples, because I know how it all works and how to do it right. Before it was way more lyrically based, I would focus on that more, but having full control helps me to feel good about what I’m making all the way.
Speaking of samples, “Swing My Way” features a sample by KP and Envyi. Is old-school R&B a heavy influence on your sound?
I pretty much grew up on old school R&B and I love the genre as a whole, even more than rap. Even though I’m primarily considered a rapper and make rap, [R&B] influences my sampling choices; it just allows me to give my own little spin on things.
Who are some of your favourite R&B acts over time?
Oh, I absolutely love Donell Jones, Playa, Alicia Keys [pauses]. I also have to shout out Jon B and Anthony Hamilton. You know, I know it’s hip-hop as well but the Ashanti and Ja Rule 2000s moment was cool too.
You’ve had a string of singles out now, are you readying an EP?
It’s longer than an EP, it’s a full project. I want this out before June, because I turn 26 then [laughs]. It’s got a few more samples on it as well as a general hip-hop feel throughout.
What’s something that you’re looking to convey on this upcoming project?
I spent a lot of time doing this in my room by myself, I self-produced a lot of it. I’d say that this is my most eclectic piece of work. I got in touch with my insecurities and vulnerabilities and found the real strength behind bearing my soul. I want to show that I’m a deeper person and in touch with my emotions, this will show who I am as a whole.
Coming from Croydon, how did it feel to perform at the inaugural Ends Festival last year?
That was such a surreal and crazy experience. I went to school around the corner from the park it was held in actually. It felt mental because I got featured in the Croydon’s Guardian newspaper around the time. These are dreams you have as a kid, but when you’re in the moment you don’t think about how big a moment these things are. It was really special to see my friends, family, and girlfriend support me doing my thing.
Are there any techniques that you use to mentally and physically prepare you for performances?
I try to zone out, so turn my phone off — there’s always someone on your line about guest-lists or things you don’t need to hear at the time [laughs]. I get a bit of a crabby feeling before shows as I get uncomfortable being vulnerable, so I like to be around either my team or myself just getting mentally in the zone.
Outside of rapping and singing, you have also learned how to self-produce. How did this come to fruition?
I actually learned a lot from Jae5, so much love for him. I used to watch him work and emulate that when I went to college. I would always practice beats and never listen in lectures. I used to get in so much trouble, but eventually, I found the rhythm with producing and was able to churn out complete productions. Youtube also helped me a lot. I’ve been fortunate enough to produce for people like Bonkaz now.
You also write songs, how do you approach this?
I voice note a lot [laughs]. I’ll be walking and get a melody at first, but it won’t just be that I’ll hear the whole beat and voice note everything. When I get home, I put the production melody on top and do things quite freeform. I’m learning more on the production side of things than songwriting because the songwriting process is easier for me right now. But, you need lived experiences or close friends’ lived experiences to write songs.
Being a fan of R&B, do you think the UK has an issue with R&B consumption right now?
I don’t, it’s funny though because everyone says this. Artists can sometimes get frustrated at the consumer. For me, I just come out and make quality music, the music will always win. When people say this to me I look up at the Shae Universe’s, Tiana Major9’s and more. Maybe it’s not as prominent right now, but these things happen in cycles and things will always evolve.
Photography: Shenell Kennedy | Styling: Mh’ya McLean