NJE On The Evolution of Hip Hop in Australia & Mental Health

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NJE is a hip hop artist you may have heard over the years, with over 20 years in the game, the rapper has returned stronger than ever with a new single that sheds light onto mental illness. Whether it is the incredible avant garde production, or the all-encompassing lyrical content. Nothing comes out of this experience unscathed. The reliability of his music is what makes NJE the artist he is today.

Over the years he has supported shows with the likes of Ice Cube, Xzibit, Public Enemy, Bone Thugs N' Harmony, Bliss N' Eso, Horrowshow, Seth Sentry, Kerser and more. We sit down with NJE and chat about the progression of hip hop, seeing more Australians of colour in hip hop and dealing with mental illness. 

You've been in the game for a while, how has hip hop progressed in Australia?

Yes, I have been around and active since 1999. So in the 20 years I've been around I've seen so many come and go. I've also seen the genre grow so, so much. A huge change was when the Hilltop Hoods got commercial success with their single ‘The Nosebleed Section’. That one right there was the game changer. So many doors opened from that song. These days it's so good to see so many different styles as well as artists from so many different cultures cracking through. It's a beautiful thing!

You're going on tour, with proceeds going to charity, what can we expect?

Yes, I'm in the middle of booking a single tour for Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne with plans to reach out to some charities who help people with depression. My aim is to spread awareness and to hope that people reach out to each other a little more. I also want to touch on the importance of this at each show. As for my live show, you can expect a lot of energy from me. You will also smile and you will step away feeling good. 

How do you take care of your mental health?

For me personally I always have a positive outlook on life and where I'm going. Sometimes we go through some hard times but you need to take from that experience and try to better yourself. I try to always smile and smile towards others as you never really know what someone might be going through. I keep myself in balance by doing my music, hitting the gym or playing some basketball. To me these are all things that make me feel good. I think to find your purpose is very important. Life should be enjoyed to the fullest.

How do you see yourself in hip hop now, have you changed over the years?

I see myself as someone who has been active for a very long time. I've been touring city to city and state to state now for over 10 years. I've always been a very driven soul. However I remain humble and appreciate every opportunity I've had. It's been an awesome ride where I've met some great people. At this stage I really try to show young people who want to learn the do's and don’ts of the game. I also remind young up and comers to stay humble and appreciate anyone that shows love to their music.

I am sure you have noticed more people of colour in hip hop in Oz, what are your thoughts on that?

I think it's a great thing! I remember when I started and being a Kiwi with English parents growing up in a very multicultural community in Campbelltown (NSW), I just wasn't accepted by so many people in the "scene". This was a huge part of my drive though. To break barriers down and to make a difference. So many multicultural emcees have actually came out of Campbelltown and it makes me incredibly proud. 

How do you deal with heartbreak?

Like most musicians I vent through music!. Nothing like getting through hard times by writing about it. I'm a very deep soul so this is sometimes my way of speaking about what I'm going through. Some of the best music ever made was by musicians going through heartbreak and hard times.

Margaret TraNJE, Hip hop, Rap