PHOTO CREDIT: Roxanne Haynes
THE captivating and charismatic Rivah Jordan...
has been telling me about his musical tastes and his particular sound; what the story behind his new track, Shoebox, is; whether there is going to be more coming from him and what sort of influences go into his arsenal.
Rivah Jordan talks about the challenges he has faced in life and his philosophy; what sort of music captured him young; whether there are any rising artists to look out for – he picks a great song to end the interview with.
Hi, Rivah. How are you? How has your week been?
Oh, man. Today, I’m trying to bend with the breeze like a tree, for my week has been character building to say the least. I like to think I’m dealing with it well. Thanks for having me, I appreciate it.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m the guy that effortlessly goes from Sean Paul to Skepta in six seconds...Rivah Jordan, the big artist with the big label in London, Sound Killaz Music. I’m a bit of an advocate for mental-health awareness and financial education. I write my own songs, make my own music; mix and master, will do my own artwork and shoot my own video if necessary and can and will do those things for other people. I’m a handsome, tall; light-skinned guy with dreadlocks and streaks of grey. I’m an entrepreneur and an educator. I’ll give you food. What more can I say?
Shoebox is your new track. Is there a background to the track?
There most certainly is. It’s like the background music to my life. Call my line-up when you’re tripping, please don’t do that…I have to set boundaries every day; manage expectations, keep my business running which allows me to continue to live and grow; make music and stack the pinky in the shoebox. It’s a delicate balance.
I have to count up my blessings when unexpected expenses jump up on me as I can now afford them mostly. I can drop a rack (£1000) or stack some money, it’s kinda calm now. That hasn’t always been my position: I remember it taking me almost three years to save £1000. Nipsey Hussle said “That’s why they follow me, they think I know the way”.
I can feel a lot of people gravitating towards my energy. I really want to share something of value with them. I think Shoebox is the beginning, the first lesson; ALWAYS PAY YOURSELF FIRST. You pay the bills, the bank; the car loan, everybody else. Start loving yourself, start paying yourself; start saving. You’re worth it, you deserve it. I LOVE YOU!
Might we see more material coming out this year?
I have a single called P.I.C. (Partner in Crime) ready. The song is finished. I have a remix or two; artwork is ready. I just need to finalise a mix and master. I’m late for Valentine’s, I’ve accepted it. I’m still coming with it, though. I have ten-twenty songs and am still creating so I want to finish up an album for this year. I have singles I produced by Prezident Brown and Cookie the Herbalist.
I recently mastered an E.P. for my brother Matthew Radics. I have an album of Dubs or Instrumental Reggae versions of original songs. I’m ambitious. I’m trying to get busy. I’d be really disappointed with myself if you didn’t see more material this year, let’s put it that way.
When did music come into your life? Did you have favourite artists as a child?
My father is Jack Radics (Google Twist and Shout (Jack Radics with Chaka Demus & Pliers - it’s fun!). With him being a musician, I think it’s appropriate for me to carry on the tradition. I was in studios, just being fascinated by the equipment and the lights from before I had any idea of the relevance of those experiences. I grew up in Jamaica so, as a child, it was popular artists in the dancehall from the late-'80s and early-'90s such as Bounty Killa, Shabba; Buju Banton and Beenie Man. Moving to the U.K. and getting into Hip Hop, I was a massive 2Pac fan.
I think it was 2Pac lyrics my friend heard me reciting that got him excited about me rapping. He was convinced I’d be great at it: I had no idea what he was talking about at the time.
I love your style and the way you bring Trap music to new heights. Does that blend of Trap and Reggae come very naturally?
Thank you (smiles). I think it does come quite naturally. I often compare music with cooking and it’s about a meeting of styles and flavours. The dynamic of the population and the motto of Jamaica is ‘out of many, one people’. The cultural explosion coming from that place is the result of the diversity. We like it, we take it; we make it our own. We turn our hands and make fashion. We continue to compile all that has come before us and is around us into new and original stuff be it from Reggae, to toasting; to rapping, to Hip-Hop; to Dub, to Jungle; to EDM and beyond and then a little bit further.
Trap is just one of the things I blend with Reggae but I think my superpower is turning everything into Reggae. Hahaha. First, I like to understand rules; then it’s about bending them and pushing their limits with a view of creating a place and sound of my own. I think that’s always my aim.
You have seen troubles and faced challenges in life. Do you think that has impacted your ambitions and why you bonded to music?
That is 100% how it goes. I recently recorded a rapper diagnosed with diabetes. He dropped a line, which was something along the lines of: “I used to think of success as having the newest reg (car registration plate). Now success is about having the use of two of my legs”. Them bars hit me hard. As much as I advocate financial education and financial freedom, they are in my mind; an aspect of mental-health. There are people who have mental-health problems from suffering financial abuse - many people reading this may be unaware something like this exists….
I had no idea it existed either at a time or that I was being subjected to that kind of abuse. I once thought abuse was only really physical and maybe verbal, just a little. I now understand the scope for being abused is much broader than that...you could be emotionally or psychologically abused - and there is more that I don’t need to get into.
PHOTO CREDIT: Roxanne Haynes
Drill music captivates the frustration of an entire generation and, if you listen to it, it’s really sad; really afraid and really angry. Millennials are trapping out the bando. When I listen to popular radio stations, they aren’t really playing a bunch of new bands like Oasis or Blur like when I moved to the U.K. The fact that the music is changing and the ways in which it’s changing says a lot. Different experiences are being shared; different problems are being solved and addressed.
I think the realignment of your ambitions is natural. I like music with a message, I like music with powerful feelings and emotions but try never to discredit music which I may not perceive as being powerful as it can be a different medicine for a different ailment, from which I do not suffer.
Sometimes, mindless music can be good as it works your mind less and gives it time to rest - that’s valuable too. I remember just wanting to sell drugs and be rich like Dipset. Given the money I actually bought studio equipment though, not chains or clothes. Now, I still want chains and clothes but I’m getting a better understanding of the values I have as a person and the values I want to bring across as a musician. I want to help people, I want to help myself; I want to heal people, I want to heal myself.
I want the platform to show people what they can be, to help people to become more; I want the Bentley for inspirational purposes and the Rolex for motivational use only. Hahaha. I want to help people identify with issues, find solutions and work through them. So, where some aims remain the same, some are completely different.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Probably headlining the Montenegro Sun Reggae Festival in 2015. How rotten drunk I got the next night and how I have not arrived at that level of intoxication again since. EXIT Fest in Serbia is always a blast, though and the West Coast of America is crazy.
I have a few…
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Rivah Jordan - Jah Works (2012, Sound Killaz Music)
My first self-produced and self-released E.P. on my own label. This was really the beginning for Rivah Jordan.
Rivah Jordan - Hustlers World (2015, Sound Killaz Music)
My first self-produced and self-released full-length album on my own label.
Fido Guido - Realtà e Cultura (distributed by Sound Killaz Music)
I think this may be the single-highest-grossing product I have released. I worked on one song and licenced the product for distribution on my label. Eye-opening experience.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I’d love to open for the Migos. That’s a show I’d enjoy watching every night.
My rider needs would be water, weed; fruits, nuts and probably something strong/warm to drink if the vocals need warming up. I don’t think we need to talk about per diems, meals; transport, accommodation and all that mandatory stuff.
Right now, I think for a professional it’s all pretty routine.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
My Instagram: @RivahJordan. D.M. me, innit (laughs).
If that’s long, just be confident and remember: the music business is 10% music and 90% business. If your music is doing bits, just focus on improving your business. If your music isn’t doing bits, just focus on improving your business. D.M. me, tho, for real. It’s love.
Do you think there are going to be any tour dates coming up?
I think there are going to be loads because promoters are going to be all in my D.M.s offering me money to sing and I’ll be more than willing to do business. They may email firstname.lastname@example.org to book me. I’ll put my own shows on too when the time is right.
How important is it being on stage and performing to the people?
I don’t know if there are words to quantify how important live performances are. So, let’s just say it’s of the utmost importance. Imagine asking a footballer how important is it to go out and play games? It’s about the number of appearances, how you well you performed and statistics. Seeing people react to your music or hearing about their reactions is completely different from being in their presence while they are reacting. Crowds let you know what you’re doing wrong or right, where and how to improve.
IN THIS PHOTO: Lil Baby
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Getting human contact and interaction, hanging out with friends; socialising. Getting in contact with nature. I love walks and driving down country lanes when I get the chance. I play basketball. I like video games. I read. I run a property management business, an independent label and I’m pursuing a career in music. Sometimes, I just want to sit in silence, smoke a joint and contemplate. Hot baths are great, too.
Downtime is essential though and being self-employed and self-motivated, a lot of the time I need to remind myself downtime is needed; it’s healthy and that it’s ok to have it. I like to embrace downtime when it presents itself.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Play Future - Crushed Up...no, no, no: Meek Mill - Respect the Game or, hold on...try Frostbite (Remix) with Offset and Rich the Kid...or one of them. I don’t know. Thanks for having me. All the best!
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PHOTO CREDIT: Roxanne Haynes