Meet Brissie’s hip hop artist tapping into his Kenyan heritage
Ben Jones started rapping to impress a girl – when it didn’t work out, he made it his mission to prove everyone wrong.
With 24,000 Instagram followers and millions of streams on Spotify, you get the feeling that a little heartache in eighth grade paid off.
Jones has been shooting since 2018 when he released his debut album Hard. It scored a major hit with a remix of “Hi Bitch” racking up over two million streams on Spotify alone. Building on the momentum, Jones kicked into high gear – he dropped eight more singles ahead of the 2020 follow-up Too much stress. Another five track EP dark sunrise followed by this year alone (we’re really digging work ethic at this point) followed by another series of singles, and his 2022 effort Won’t look back.
His latest release, single ‘Nintendo’ – a collaboration with fellow Brisbane talent Taro and Vilan – has made new waves in what he calls a very supportive local Brisbane scene, so we caught up with the up-and-coming rapper to chat. of his past, noble ambitions, and his rather interesting coming-of-age story.
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How did you start and what attracted you to hip-hop?
I started making music when I was in eighth grade and I did it because I wanted to record a song to impress a girl I liked. I was rapping and singing for her in class and she asked if I could record a song using just Garageband and $10 headphones. When I showed her the song she laughed and didn’t even want to hear the rest and before you know it the whole school wanted to give a shit about the song. Still, I found that making music was the most fun and relaxing thing I could do. I came straight home from school and decided to write another song to prove everyone wrong and from then on it would become something I did every day after school.
How would you describe your sound?
I’ve been told by others that I have a very diverse sound. I never allow myself to stick to sound or style, I understand that at different stages of life you have to learn to change and adapt and the same goes for my sound. You often hear me create hip hop or pop music involving different forms of singing and rapping. I also like to tap into Afro-beats from time to time as it brings me in tune with my Kenyan heritage.
What were your inspirations and who would you appeal to the fans?
My biggest musical inspiration has always been Drake. I have studied his music for a few years now and am inspired by how well he has managed to keep his name. Tory Lanez would be another inspiration as well as the late XXXTentacion. These three artists I believe my target audience would appeal to.
What are the biggest challenges you have had to face throughout your career and who have been your biggest supporters?
I’ve faced many challenges throughout my career, but I understand that’s how life goes and those things come with the game. I’d say the hardest time I’ve had in my career is when I decided to leave home a week after graduating from high school. I was leaving my mom and sister all the way [up] from Cairns to Brisbane in hopes of becoming the greatest entertainer of all time – for me this was one of the hardest times of my life as I was living virtually alone in the city without a dollar in my name . I mean, I had just quit my job at Dominos. My mother has always been my biggest supporter, she never doubted me or questioned me on my choice of career in music, despite what other people close to her thought. It’s like she always knew I was going somewhere.
What’s the local scene like in Brissie? You get a big following, how did you break through?
Brisbane has such an exciting and supportive hip-hop community. I love how people always come to my shows to support their local artists and generally have a good time. I once did a show on a Thursday night – when most people have work the next day – and people still showed up for a good night’s sleep. I have also met and collaborated with a few of our local artists from the Brisbane scene such as iiiConic, Day 1, Vilan, as well as worked closely with one of Brisbane’s top video makers – Coco Zhong from Glass Hearts.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are great! This year I’m really focusing on connecting with my fanbase on a really personal level. I’m going to tour all over Australia, playing and meeting old and new fans across the country. This year will really lay the foundations for the explosion that is about to take over in the near future.
Finally, what releases and upcoming shows do you want to plug into?
Towards the end of September, I’m about to release my biggest record of all time. It’s a song called ‘Ride For Me’ with Drippy K and I promise it will be a good song when summer comes. In terms of shows, they just keep coming! The Glass Hearts All Stars festival takes place in November, but the date is not yet fixed.
Follow Ben Jones on Instagram above to keep up with his latest releases, or check out all of his latest tunes and more here.
This article was produced in partnership with Ben Jones