Embracing Change: Clash Meets Jafaris

Embracing Change: Clash Meets Jafaris

“This is a closure piece, it’s the end of a big chapter of my life and the start of a bigger one...”

In the years to come, as the world looks back at November 2020, the word ‘change’ is sure to be one of the first that comes to mind. No matter how hard one tries, this November will be much changed from previous iterations of December’s older brother.

If we look to our West, we’ll see the United States of America in the throes of a Presidential election which, under mounting legal challenges against the electorate from its own president, is much changed, while if we look closer to home, we’ll see Great Britain if anything will change at all, as they battle once more with a defunct economy.

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For Jafaris, who began releasing music as Profound in 2015, the release of his six-track EP will also bring a change. In the past, such projects would be accompanied by a tour, both of venues and radio stations. In this of all years, that is no longer a possibility. This year has, however, given Jafaris an opportunity for reflection. “It was good to pause and re-focus and find myself again,” Jafaris says of his year away from the spotlight following 2019’s release of his debut album ‘Stride’.

‘I Love You But I’m In A Bad… Mood’ is a project which brings together both visuals and audio to create a unique journey through the protagonist’s psyche. It tells the story of the days, weeks and most after the break-down of a long-term relationship. It’s a time, Jafaris openly admits, that wasn’t always the easiest to look back on. “I didn’t know what to expect,” Jafaris explained, “It was a decision that had to be made but I didn’t know what it would bring. The growth and the lessons and the ups and downs after that decision conjured up all of this music. The situation was just so deep it kept coming out in the music”.

With the release of ‘Stride’ came a period where Jafaris was able to experiment with his music a little bit more. “When ‘Stride’ was finished I started on the next thing, and because ‘Stride’ did what it did and it made the mark it made, it felt as though I could do whatever I wanted,” Jafaris recalls of the time. “It wasn’t a weird project (Stride), but even the context in the subject and the themes, I wasn’t sure how it was going to be received”.

With the opportunity to experiment that came following the release of ‘Stride’, the chance to develop further into the visual artist he’d always seen as his truest self. “For what I make, my music feels more like a train of thought, it’s basically me explaining a piece of my life from start to finish” In comparison, the visuals are “what drives the message home, and what makes people realise ‘Oh, that’s what he’s on about”.

When he started production of the EP, Jafaris recalls having to keep reminding himself of the visual motifs he had concocted to tell the story of the tracks. “I had to keep reminding myself of what colours I see with the project, what images, symbols, have come to capture this moment. It changed as it went along but there were core colours, ideas and messages throughout”.

There were plans to have a video for every track on the project, but due to a combination of government and budget restrictions filming was made far more difficult that previously expected. Regardless, with four videos from the six tracks, it’s a testament to creativity and a willingness to push for one’s vision no matter the obstacle.

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‘I Love You But I’m In A Bad …. Mood’ is Jafaris’s first EP since the release of ‘Velvet Cake’ in 2017, the EP that brought him to the attention of music aficionados across the country, and who’s track ’If You Love Me’ came to soundtrack the summer Irish hip-hop music broke through to national acclaim. So, what’s changed artistically since then?

“One drastic change is that I know why I’m doing what I’m doing,” Jafaris considers, “At the start I just loved making music, but from then until now, although it’s a passion and a love, if I want to make this a career I need foresight and it needs to be going somewhere”. ‘Stride’ obviously played a big part of his realisation as an artist, but it also gave him the confidence of vision and the willingness to make music for himself rather than the listener alone. “I’m not trying to please anyone else” Jafaris adds, to emphasise the point.

November is looking like being the month of Irish hip-hop releases, with Nealo’s incredible ‘All The Leaves Are Falling’ released last week, Jafaris this week and on the 20th, JyellowL releases his much-anticipated debut ‘2020 D|Vision’. Dublin artist management/production company Diffusion Lab released both Nealo’s and Jafaris’s projects, but it’s not what links that artists that's important, it's what makes them different.

What differentiates them is their perspectives, and with unique perspectives comes the importance of authenticity, of being yourself and not putting forward a character or a persona. On this, Jafaris adds: “When people connect with music, I feel that they connect to who the person is rather than what the song is saying”.

“People can sniff out when you’re faking it, and if it’s not real or people don’t feel your music is real, it won't last, it’ll be here today and gone tomorrow.”

And that, in essence, is what makes ‘I Love You But I’m In A Bad….Mood’ so special. A willingness to be vulnerable, to admit feelings of uncertainty, frustration, confusion, and being open to sharing those experiences in music. Where would music be if we didn’t talk about our failures? We’d be missing out on the vast majority of the human experience. In hip-hop and R&B, genres where braggadocio is almost a requirement, being authentic carries a risk, but if done correctly, carries with it much reward.

“This is my most authentic self,” Jafaris notes of the EP, “and it’ll only attract the people it's supposed to, it won’t attract the whole world”.

“This is a closure piece,” Jafaris explains, “it’s the end of a big chapter of my life and the start of a bigger one”. Which brings only one question, where to go from here?

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'I Love You But I'm In A Bad...Mood' EP is out now.

Words: Cailean Coffey

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