The sex symbol of Stones Throw Records on how his quest to get laid led him to a rap career.

Jonwayne doesn’t really seem interested in the bullshit. I first spot him browsing through the book section of Brick Lane’s Rough Trade Records. He’s here to do a Q&A, after a viewing of Stones Throw Records’ new feature length film, ‘Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton’. This is only his second time in England and yet his fan base is growing exponentially with each visit. After stealing the show at Giles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards in March, he’s here headlining his own gig, and it’s proving popular. “I tried to get some friends in myself but even I couldn’t ‘cause it sold out months ago” he says. “Shit’s got crazy over here since my last visit.”

After his Q&A session, he ambles back over to the book section to continue browsing while we talk. So what does he read on tour? “At the moment I got this Ray Bradbury [classic Sci-Fi author] book of short stories on my iPad I’m reading a lot, it’s good on-the-road stuff.”

It seems fitting that an artist many consider to be the future of hip hop, knows a lot of good Sci-Fi and when asked about the future of the written word, he’s equally forward thinking. “I see a probability of a resurgence in the written word and rappers are gonna be the ones to bring it back because the public doesn’t trust nobody else. Nobody’s gunna listen to an 80 year old whose won the Pulitzer [Prize] except other 80 year olds who read that shit, rappers are known as the poets now.” With Dizzee Rascal recently being included in the national English syllabus he may have a strong point.

As we talk, I can’t help but notice how each question is answered in that same distinctive yet nonchalant baritone he has on tracks. At some points he seems to meander through an answer but then at others, he’s as concise and punchy as his lyrics. When I ask him how he first got into writing he again cuts the bullshit with a naked level of honesty; revealing it was all simply to impress a girl. “When social media was blowing up, I saw she liked poems and I was like, ‘Shit I can do that’. Then I noticed I could do it and it was easy, so I kept on doing it. All this was around the same time I stopped doing sports…so it was a very neat transition from physical violence into mental violence.”

This is an extract from the Summer 14 Issue of Viper Magazine. Read more from the magazine here. Buy physical and digital copies here.


Words by Thomas Usher.
Photos by Mehdi Lacoste.

New Issue

Subscribe to the Viper Newsletter for the latest news, events and offers

Top Stories