Jevon’s ‘Paranoia’ proves he’s one UK hip hop star-in-waiting you should be across
In a post- STORMZY and SKEPTA world, UK Hip Hop has gone from strength to strength, sprouting a seemingly endless and diverse stream of talent, as if the next generation were always there simply waiting for the levee to break. A brief and by no means exhaustive list might include the likes of OCTAVIAN, YXNG BANE, AJ TRACEY, AVELINO, SLOWTHAI, J HUS, FLOHIO, STEFFLON DON, RAY BLK, and so on. Most, if not all, of these artists were featured on last year’s ‘New Gen’ compilation put together by XL Recordings’ to showcase the future of UK hip hop, grime and dancehall. One of the leading producers behind that compilation – and one of the artists helping to shape the sounds of the UK scene moving forward – was 24 year old West London rapper JEVON, who, up until this year, has been content to make most of his moves behind the boards via his production work. But now he’s ready to shine the spotlight on himself, joining that list of future stars of UK hip hop with the imminent release of his debut EP, Judas, later this month.
His latest single, ‘Paranoia’, is the third to be lifted from the EP and builds upon the stylistic versatility displayed on previous singles, ‘Judas’ and the uplifting, gospel-infused ‘Redemption’. ‘Paranoia’ makes yet another pivot – this time towards slinky, sleek, narcotic-induced R&B music.
The glitchy production combines looped, R&B-inflected guitars, a choir of chopped up vocal samples and drums which are practically tripping over themselves. It’s giddy, excitable and dizzying, but, beneath everything you can sense that it’s also kind of lethargic and sleepy and distracted at the same time. It’s the epitomisation of wooziness, as Jevon takes you from despondency to apathy to intoxication to paranoia to poor decision making and back again.
You can feel this all swirling around in his head throughout ‘Paranoia’. Clearly, Jevon is an artist who’s just as comfortable speaking with his music as he is with his lyricism – and what’s most impressive about ‘Paranoia’ is that Jevon can use his music to suffuse you with this woozy sensation, even if you didn’t hear a word he was saying (which is to say nothing about his vocals on this track, which deftly moves between styles and flows to deliver his most vivid and thrilling performance to date). This is what distinguishes rapper/producer hybrids from your standard rapper, and it’s what the best artists working in that mould have always done, from KANYE to Q-TIP to DRE. And for as talented and as exciting and impressive as each of those artists of the UK’s next generation roster are, I don’t think any of them are working in a similar artistic space to Jevon. So you can feel free to add him to that list.
IMAGE via Twitter