Between utilising a Bugsy Malone hook and featuring the lazy cuisine of cold beans on toast in his videos, That’s Juvey? is an artist willing to use humour to get his serious message across.
Indeed, one of the most intriguing things about the young Ellesmere Port-born rapper is the snarling understanding of the industry that runs through his tracks. That is to say that for someone so young, That’s Juvey? (real name Kyle Owen) recognises that the music industry is a contrived and dangerous place: one he dissects and raps about with precise slices of spitting sarcasm. Speaking to him, he declared that he had “incorporated the idea of being the underdog in a competitive scouse scene into my music.”
He is part of a burgeoning scene of rappers who use the internet and YouTube channels to air their beats and bars. Channels such as UKUS and his own channel Little Raskal TV (based in Little Sutton and Ellesmere Port) co-ran with Blu Beatz are important mediums and representative of a changing industry.
On one such channel, the increasingly influential Lab TV, he successfully analyses the temptation to slip into a commercial coma “Downing beer, wearing chinos, rapping ‘bout my massive ego” before intricately outlining what might be considered his manifesto: “I am just me” – and this “me” is someone whose environment bleeds into his creative output.
This is music built on a foundation of Mersey-wit and grey boredom “They say we’re free but where we’re living makes it hard to succeed” and the two, wit and boredom; intertwine smartly in a series of shrewd tracks that fuse retro samples and modern concerns into an exciting sound, rooted in a rich heritage of influences. He commented “I value intricate patterns, complex rhyme schemes and originality as essentially important components of a good piece and thus artists such as Ghetts, Fliptrix, Jam Baxter, Big L, Big Pun, Rhyme Asylum were definitely people I looked up to.”
Interestingly, another influence on his sound came from stations on Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas – a particularly current way of discovering music, and another sign of the contemporaneity of his lyricism. Morrissey got his inspiration from Oscar Wilde, That’s Juvey? finds it in video games.
Twitter, the horse scandal, Britain’s Got Talent and hipsters are referenced in rhymes that twist and turn in quick seconds and though the temptation is to dump every young British rapper into an invented lump of hooded thugs, there is a deft intelligence in That’s Juvey?’s lyrics reminiscent of an ‘Original Pirate Material’ Mike Skinner.
If Skinner was The Streets then That’s Juvey? might well be considered The Street Corner, a place where humour and heartbreak collides on cold evenings in crumbling British towns.
We should gather round and listen.