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Music Spotlight: Jirias, the Palestinian hip hop Artist

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Welcome to a new feature! We are creating a new series where we highlight some lesser known artists who absolutely are worth a listen!

On this edition (of what is going to become a more regular feature), we are going to look at the New York and New Jersey-based rapper Jirias. My first exposure to Jirias came from Soundcloud, the veritable ocean of self-produced music. One could even say there is TOO much music on Soundcloud, but that is why we are here, to wade through the mediocrity and dull instruments and return with only the best and most worthwhile music!

What brought me to give Jirias a chance, besides the unique name, was the icon he used for one of his songs: a screencap of Charizard from the original Pokemon games on the Game Boy. That turned out to be an instrumental, but the deeper I dug, it became quite clear Jirias was a talented lyricist as well! Yes, I came for the Pokemon, but I stayed for the surprisingly deep and personal lyrics and absolutely fire flow, which is not unlike a Charizard using flamethrower. A Super Effective flamethrower, at that.

I reached out to Jirias, I had to get into his head a little, find out where this genius comes from, what drives him. He was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions, which you will find below:

NYR: When did you fall in love with rap?

Jirias: I fell in love with rap in high school. I had been playing saxophone for a few years before that, and actually I really liked a lot of the Odd Future beats that were around then just because they sounded actually jazzy. I started developing an ear for lyricism after being introduced to Childish Gambino, but I didn’t truly appreciate flow and wordplay until I listened to older guys like Biggie and JayZ.

NYR: Who is your favorite current rapper? All time favorite?
Jirias: My favorite current rapper is Kendrick Lamar. He’s undeniably the best at rapping right now. All time favorite flow is Snoop Dogg. All time favorite lyricist might be Mos Def or Eminem, both guys are straight militant.

NYR: If you could collaborate with a rapper, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

Jirias: Donald Glover has been my favorite artist for maybe the last 5 years. I would love to collaborate on a song with him, or Vic Mensa, who I think has a really important voice right now speaking out about discrimination and police brutality.

NYR: If you could collaborate on a song with any non-rapper, dead or alive, who would it be?

Jirias: It would probably have to be Cory Henry. He plays with Snarky Puppy right now, and the guy is a genius pianist. Currently one of the best soloists and most unique voices in the fields of jazz and funk.

NYR: Who is your biggest influence?

Jirias: That’s a hard question. I have a lot of respect for rappers like Childish Gambino and Mac Miller, they were the original internet sensation rappers. In terms of career, I model myself after Donald Glover. I would love to have a hand in every industry, and Glover (deservedly) is the most prominent renaissance artist this present day. His music is something I listen to privately when I need to be motivated and keep pushing forward towards realizing a multifaceted career. A lot of people used to hate Gambino; now he’s practically universally loved. I kind of want the same to happen to me.

NYR: Do you create all your own instrumentals? 

Jirias: I create some of my own instrumentals. There are certain projects I like to keep to myself and have be my own brainchild of sorts. Any solely instrumental song you find on my SoundCloud was self-produced, and in cases where I collaborate with other producers, I give credit where credit’s due. I’ve collaborated with Engelwood, who’s music is currently getting thousands of plays and downloads. I also frequently collaborate with RKG and SpoilDaKid. Both of these guys have great musical taste and ability.

NYR: What is it about Rap that you love?

Jirias: Storytelling. My whole life feels like it’s been one long, dramatic novel so far. Rap is a very human art form. A lot of people invest their whole lives into 16 bar verses. I hate rap that doesn’t have a point, regardless of how technically good it is. You can tell a good story without stuffing dozens of syllables and internal rhymes into a verse. Simple is sometimes better. Say something unique.

I would like to give Jirias my thanks for answering my questions, they were incredibly helpful and painted quite the picture of his  mindset and outlook. I couldn’t think of a better choice to highlight for this feature, Jirias is everything independent rap should be, and hopefully, he finds wider success soon, if anyone deserves it, it is him. Jirias and RKG have an upcoming EP due out this winter.

Featured Image by VisionsByGuike

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