Five Minutes with Jeshi: The London-based lyricist providing a voice for the unheard

Ahead of his debut Glastonbury performance on the Lonely Hearts Club stage this Saturday, we revisit our January interview with rising rap star Jeshi.

London-based rising rap star Jeshi released his debut album Universal Credit at a time when the country was witnessing one of the worst cost of living crises since the 50s. In its essence, Jeshi’s work speaks to a disillusioned generation and proves a musical companion to the times. His poignant and reflective debut cemented him as one of the new voices of British hip-hop, infusing different genres and a lyrical clarity rarely seen before. His exploration of classism is the head-on confrontation music so desperately needs, and his tunes are holding up a mirror to British society.

In a Dizzee Rascal meets The Streets-esque approach, he keeps storytelling at the forefront of his work. Jeshi’s production is varied, vibrant and provides the perfect canvas for his vividly detailed stories to come to life. Take ‘Hit By A Train,’ for example, which offers up a heart-wrenching insight into just how hopeless and misery-filled life on the dole can be. And although Universal Credit can be dark listen, it’s an essential UK project, never once shying away from the often ignored realities many in Britain face. The artist is a storyteller for a generation, and his pen game is only getting sharper with each release. Here, HUNGER sits down with Jeshi to discuss his musical evolution and much more.

How would you describe your sound in five words?

 The new sound of London.

What kind of music were you inspired by whilst growing up?

Dizzee Rascal, The Streets, Amy Winehouse, and the Bristol trip-hop scene have been big inspirations for me and what I’m doing.

What was the first album you bought/listened to?

Pretty sure it was Justin Timberlake – Justified, which still sounds so good. 

How would you describe your creative process at the moment?

At the moment, the biggest thing for me is exploring new sounds and feelings – I love everything I’ve done with Universal Credit, but I have no intention of recreating that. 

How would you say your music has evolved over the last few years?

I’ve become more in touch with who I am and the stories I want to tell the world. Sonically I think the sound just keeps getting bigger and more expansive which is what I’m constantly pushing for. 

Is there any artist whose trajectory you’d like to follow? 

There are so many artists I love and whose journeys have been good to watch, but I’m really only interested in carving out my own trajectory. It’s something that’s been important to me for as long as I can remember.

What’s the most surreal moment of your career so far? 

Getting into playing shows off the back of the album release last year gave me some pretty surreal moments. It’s the most satisfying feeling connecting with people in real life who the music has really connected with and meant something.

What’s been on rotation in your playlists recently?

A lot of Audio Bullys and At the Drive-In right now.

Are there any other sounds or genres that you want to experiment with in the future?

I want to keep pulling a load of different sounds and genres together and breaking new ground with them.

What advice would you give to your younger self who’s just starting to make music?

Don’t listen to anybody; nobody knows anything.

What would you say is your end goal within music?

Just continuing to make what I love and have it mean something in people’s lives; anything else is extra.

Is there anything you have coming up that we should be aware of?

The next phase is coming. 

WriterElla Chadwick
Editorial DirectorDevinder Bains
StylistLucy Parker
Beauty EditorMarco Antonio
Hair EditorNick Irwin
First AssistantCharlie Cummings
Photography AssistantsAlex Heron, Bethan Evans, Chelsea Nawanga, Olly Dundas
Fashion AssistantEmily Leeson
Hair AssistantAlex Sarghe
ProducerSarah Stanbury
Creative Direction and DesignKat Beckwith
Digital ArtworkTrue Black Studio
Head of PartnershipsCherelle Chambers
Social Media ManagerJamilah Rose-Roberts