NORTH LONDON RAPPER JBEE ON HOW TO SHAPE VIRALITY INTO LONGEVITY
As London’s JBEE walks into Laundry Bar in the heart of Fitzroy, Melbourne, it’s clear that at just 21 years old, he’s living an unfathomable dream.
The Ghanaian-UK-based rapper is among a new generation of artists who’ve weaponized social media to their advantage and garnered a fan base from all over the world in the process. For some, it can be a negative stigma that hangs over one’s career for years, and for others, it’s just a temporary categorisation and tool to propel them further.
Despite being London-based (and most-definitely having a big fanbase back home), Australia and European countries like Belgium and Holland are huge on his music—he’s encapsulated an entire audience who actively follow him and listen to his music away from TikTok. In other words, he’s turned virality into a fully profitable music career that’s going to set him up for the rest of his life.
As he walks into Laundry Bar accompanied by his Mum, DJ, and tour manager, JBEE takes a moment for himself and puts his headphones in after saying “hello” to everyone. It’s been busy adjusting to the Australian lifestyle—let alone the feeling of being on the other side of the world just to perform music, and JBEE finds time for himself wherever he can.
Not too long ago he was fresh out of high school and working in factories, now he’s touring and performing at festivals like Listen Out, it’s hard to fathom the amount of work that went on behind the scenes. “When I started working in the warehouse, I got fired from like three different warehouses because it’s physically hard. But the fact I kept actually going back, trying to get to different places to earn money is something I’m using in music now.”
“I feel like you don’t really think this far. You just think about the main aspects of making it. You don’t think about all the other things you can be doing like travelling the world, meeting different people, and all the other stuff that comes with it.”– JBEE (2023).
He was still working in a factory when he released his biggest song to date, the Shiloh Dynasty sampled ‘4AM’, back in late 2021. The breakthrough hit found him putting his life on wax through raw and honest storytelling – a skill that he says “I’m still showing that, still.”
In the single, he raps “Dad weren’t really around, so it’s only Mum that made me a man.” Growing up in a single parent household is what shaped him into the person he is today, and to see his mum at his right hand side all this way from home is heartwarming.
“For me personally, it’s a big factor. I learnt the type of person my mum is, and have taken her attributes she has onto myself.”
In July of this year, he released his debut mixtape HBK consisting of eight tracks including some that have already dropped. It’s a project that sees JBEE further develop his signature style while also giving him the platform to try new things.
It’s an exciting time for UK music. There’s a lot of great things happening right now—plenty of artists are getting their shine and for the youngsters watching like JBEE, knowing where you fit in is important. Looking ahead, JBEE aims to drop another mixtape before releasing a debut album at some point in the next year or two. He knows beauty is in the struggle, and he knows the journey is the destination. JBEE is all too familiar with the keys to success, and now, it’s up to him. “I feel like it’s better to have a journey than just a quick moment.”
Once you have that quick moment, you never know, you might not have a moment again. So having that story is better than just going straight from point A to B. I feel like it’s good to just have patience, and take the time to nurture your craft and just become a good artist.”– JBEE (2023).