Ben Jones: Meet the Brissie hip hop artist tapping into his Kenyan heritage

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Ben Jones: Meet the Brissie hip hop artist tapping into his Kenyan heritage

Ben Jones

Ben Jones started rapping to impress a girl - when that didn't work out, he made it his life's mission to prove everyone wrong.

With 24,000 Instagram followers and millions of streams on Spotify, you get the feeling that a bit of pivotal eighth-grade heartbreak has paid off in spades.

Jones has been firing away since 2018 when he dropped his debut album Hard. That drew major success with a remix of ‘Hi Bitch’ racking up over two million streams on Spotify alone. Building on the momentum, Jones went into overdrive – he dropped a further eight singles before 2020’s follow-up Too Much Stress. A further five-track EP Dark Sunrise followed that year alone (we’re really digging the work ethic by this point) followed by another spate of singles, and his 2022 effort Won’t Look Back.

His latest release, the single ‘Nintendo’ – a collab with fellow Brisbane talent Taro and Vilan – has been making further waves in what he calls a very supportive local Brisbane scene, so we caught up with the emerging rapper to chat his background, lofty ambitions, and his rather interesting coming-of-age story.

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How did you first get started, and what attracted you to hip-hop?

I first started making music when I was in grade eight and I did it because I wanted to record a song to impress a girl I liked. I was rapping and singing to her in class and she asked me if I could record a song using nothing but Garageband and some $10 earphones. When I showed her the song she laughed and did not even want to hear the rest of it and before you knew it the whole school wanted to take the piss out of the song. Despite all that I realised that making music was the most fun and mind-relaxing thing I could do. I went straight back home from school and decided to write another song to prove everyone wrong and from that moment it would become a thing I did every day after school.

How do you describe your sound?

I’ve been told by others that I have a very diverse sound. I never allow myself to stick with sound or style, I understand that in different stages in life you must learn to change and adapt and so the same applies to my sound. You often hear me create hip hop or pop music involving different forms of singing and rapping. I also like to tap into Afro-beats every once in a while as it puts me in line with my Kenyan heritage.

Who were your inspirations and whose fans would you appeal to?

My biggest inspiration in music has always been Drake. I’ve studied his music for a couple years now and I’m inspired by how relevant he’s managed to keep his name. Tory Lanez would be another inspiration as well the late XXXTentacion. These three artists I believe my core audience would appeal to.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced throughout your career, and who have been your biggest supporters?

I’ve faced alot of challenges throughout my career but I understand that’s just how life goes and that these things come with the game. I’d say the hardest point I’ve had in my career is when I decided to leave home a week after graduating high school. I was leaving my mother and sister all the way [up] in Cairns to Brisbane in hopes of becoming the biggest artist ever – to me this was one of the hardest points in my life, as I was pretty much living in the city on my own without a dollar to my name. I mean, I had just quit my job at Dominos. My mother has always been my biggest supporter, she’s never doubted or questioned me about my career choice in music, despite what other poeple close to her have thought. It’s like she’s always known I was going places.

What’s the local scene like up in Brissie? You’re getting a big audience, how have you been breaking through?

Brisbane has such an exciting and supportive hip-hop community. I love the way people always turn up to my shows looking to support their local artists and just have a good time in general. I once did a show on a Thursday night – when most people have work the next day – and people still turned up to have a good night. I’ve also met and collab’d with a few of our local artists in the Brisbane scene such as iiiConic, Day 1, Vilan, as well as working closely with one of the top video directors in Brisbane – Coco Zhong from Glass Hearts.

What are your plans for the future?

My plans for the future are big! This year I’m really focused on connecting with my fan base on a real personal level. I’m going to be touring all around Australia, performing and meeting old and new fans across the country. This year is really going to set the foundations for the blow-up that is about to take over in the near future.

Finally, what are some releases and upcoming shows you want to plug?

Near the end of September, I am set to drop my biggest record ever. It’s a song called ‘Ride For Me’ featuring Drippy K and I promise it’s gonna be a good song to when summer hits. In terms of shows, they just keep coming in! The Glass Hearts All Stars Festival is happening this November, but the date’s not finalised.


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This article was made in partnership with Ben Jones