The endless versatility of MC JoKen
Emerging MC JoKen is a young hip hop artist straight out of West Kentucky who has been making music for close to 2 years. At the prime age of only 19-years-old JoKen’s versatile sound has been compared to the likes of Logic and Mac Miller which has made him hit waves across the globe.
We spoke to the 19-year-old MC about his work so far, dream collaborations, playing live shows in the USA when you are under 21 and doing it all so you can buy a mansion for your mum! Harry Upton writes.
How would you describe your sound?
I like to describe my sound as versatile. One song you may hear me and think, "That guy sounds like Mac Miller," then you might hear me on another song and say, "He sounds like Logic." I like to think my sound is unique and I hate when people try to limit me as an artist like I can't step out of the box and make something no-one is expecting.
So would you say Mac Miller has had an influence on your music? Who else has influenced you?
I love this question. Yeah a lot of people tried to compare me to Mac Miller when I first started making music, but that's starting to happen less. So of course, Mac Miller is one of my biggest influences. I watched him go from being that "K.I.D.S. and Best Day Ever" artist to dropping "Macadelic and Watching Movies With The Sound Off." I feel like I've seen the evolution of him as an artist. There's four other artists that are big influences on my music as well; Starlito, J. Cole, Audio Push, and Logic. It's weird because all four of those artists make different styles of music, but it all has an influence on the kind of music I make.
Ok cool. Talking about the hip hop scene now, I've never been to Kentucky, what is it like?
In West Kentucky the hip-hop scene is really just starting to take off. There's no big cities or anything around West Kentucky, unless you drive two hours and go to Nashville, so every town is pretty small, but they're all so close to each other that it's nothing but a drive to get there. I link up with artists from around West Kentucky all the time and we've got some dope artists and definitely some dope producers on the come up. The talent, creativity, ambition, and passion in artists is all here, it's just not here in the same volume as bigger cities or areas. As for central Kentucky and eastern Kentucky, I don't know a whole lot about what's going on with the hip-hop scene there, but I hope to find some dope artists ready to link up and put some work in out that way.
Yeah, you mention linking up with other artists and producers, I've noticed you like to collaborate with other artists on your tracks, tell me about that process?
Yeah, I feel like it's always good to mix it up and throw in other artists on some tracks just to give the people something different. I was a fan of hip-hop long before I was an artist, and I usually enjoy hearing multiple voices and styles on a song if it's the right song. Not all songs need features, but if it's the right song a feature can help. That's kind of my thought process when finding people to feature on songs.
And if you could work with any artist, who would it be and why?
This is a tough question. There's so many artists I want to work with right now. I've got to say it would have to be Audio Push or J. Cole though. Cole dropped the best album I've ever heard hands down with 2014 Forest Hills Drive. I still play a lot of those songs daily. He's just such a big inspiration for the direction I'm trying to go with my music. I feel like I could learn so much from him. Then Audio Push, they just dropped ‘The Good Vibe Tribe’ a couple months ago and I'm still banging that. That mixtape is like my everyday mentality put into a bunch of songs. When it comes down to it, I'm still a kid trying to have fun and kick it with the homies, but I'm trying to find myself too. That's my outlook on life right now and that's what I got from that tape, so I feel like I could really connect with Audio Push on a track.
How long have you been making music?
I've been making music for about two years now. I recorded my first song in October of my senior year in high school, which would have been 2013 then. I was 17 when I first started recording and I just turned 19 this past week, so a little under two years.
So with 21 being the drinking age in USA does that effect your ability to play live shows?
Yeah it does. There's a lot of bars and other places that serve alcohol I could have performed at when I was 18, but like I said I just turned 19 and there's some bars where you can get in if you're 19, so that should change some. But there's still those places where you have to be 21 to perform so right now I've been trying to find festivals and showcases to perform at.
Ok great, good to hear you can still get out there! Tell us about your live shows?
All my live performances have been local so far. I've done two shows in my hometown of Paducah, Kentucky and two shows in Murray, Kentucky. The most memorable one was performing with my homie Callon B at Terrapin Station in Murray. It was a small place but we packed it out and had that place going nuts. The energy was great.
Sounds like a good time! Now the final question we ask all artist that we interview, what stimulates your soul?
The music man. I live for music. Oh, and my mum. I'm gonna put her in a big house on a hill