NYC based rap artist Jirias and producer RKG talk to Dopecausewesaid about their new joint EP "New Year", their musical goals for 2017, and much more. After reading this exclusive Q&A be sure to stream/download "New Year" here, and listen to Jirias's new single "Oh Jeez" below!
When did you first start writing raps? And what attracted you to the art form?
Jirias: I started writing lyrics in senior year of high school. It started out as just a way to get out some ideas. To be honest, I love wittiness and “cleverness” in song lyrics and felt like the best way to do that in music was to rap. Before that, I had been studying jazz saxophone for the majority of my teen years, so that was actually my premiere musical outlet. It was a very weird jump to start rapping, and for maybe the first 4 months I kept it completely to myself. It was something that I felt I wouldn’t be allowed to do or “get away with,” but I felt a connection so I went with it.
If you had to describe yourself as an artist and/or your music in three words, which ones would you choose?
RKG: Introspective Old School.
Tell us about your recently released "New Year" EP. How did you and producer RKG connect and how was it decided which songs appeared on the EP?
Jirias: It’s funny - RKG and I actually went to the same high school but never even spoke to each other before our final college years. I was putting out some freestyles and song covers on my own around October, he took notice to some of them and decided to contact me on Facebook. He sent me some instrumentals, and we ended up clicking together musically. He would send me a bunch of beats and ideas in the coming months, and eventually we nailed a couple ideas down really well and decided to release a joint project. We ended up becoming good friends through this project, which actually had its origins in something as fleeting as Facebook messenger.
With "New Year" released on January 1st, what are your goals musically for this year?
RKG: We're both hoping that our upcoming EP, Castle, blows up and gives us some recognition in the rap community. Once we start making some headway in the industry, I'm looking to improve my music setup and get some more expensive software. Hopefully Jirias and I keep collaborating throughout the year and we can embark on this journey together. Even though we're just getting started, we know we have the potential to usher in a new wave of hip hop.
As a Palestinian-American artist, do you feel obligated to address in your music the issues taking place in the Middle East, specifically in Israel/Palestine?
Jirias: It’s interesting. Honestly, despite my being Palestinian on both my mother and father’s sides of the family, I don’t think I have credibility speaking on behalf of the experiences of those living on the Gaza strip or West Bank. There’s a weird juxtaposition, or rather, some type of survivor’s guilt that comes along with having a background like that, but not experiencing it firsthand. A lot of children are being affected, and I always think about how at some point there were probably kids that looked like me and my sister that were at some point killed in the violence. So, I have a responsibility to do something about that here where I live, and hope that at some point I have the resources to make a difference overseas. Sometimes I feel like my culture got wiped out. So I feel like I have to make a new one here in America. Otherwise, my parents made a lot of pointless sacrifices immigrating here. It’s about having a personal legacy, and also standing up for the legacy of your people.
If you could choose nine free beats from three famous producers, who would you select?
• Gold digger
• Heard em say
• Drop It Like It’s Hot (i think this is Pharrell?)
• Fed’s watching
• Father Stretch My Hands Pt 1
• Bounce Back
Thank you very much! Also, here is a link to my recently released song "Oh Jeez" from my upcoming EP https://soundcloud.com/jirias/oh-jeez