Rooted… With Jimmy

Hiba Hassan

By Hiba Hassan

Hiba Hassan

30 Jul 2023

Producer: Hiba Zizenia / Akeal Iqbal / Remo Scott-Jones
Interview: Remo Scott-Jones
Photographer: Oliver Buckle
Videographer and edit: Mitchell Williams

If you know about UK Rap, you would have heard about Jimmy. Whether it be from his part in the renowned collective the 98s, through honing his own solo craft. Or collaborations with other music talents such as successful producer R14, who have released the joint project, Alchemy, that released on 21st July 2023.

Coming in as a heavy-weight rap champion of his own, it was this time last year when he released his debut solo mixtape, Risk It All, which is now sitting at over 10 million streams in just over a year. Arguably a project that cemented his name in the scene. His voice is distinctive and always finds a production that perfectly flows with his tone, so distinctive that true Jimmy fans can strip back the man behind the mask.

For our latest Rooted, we explored Jimmy’s ends, the place that started it all for Jimmy and the 98s, that is still and will always be a part of his journey

What does being here [Trelawney Estate] mean to you?

A lot of things went down over here, show my first few music videos here. Jimmy – 7 am, which was probably my first music video for Jimmy around early 2019, or late 2018. Then we came with another one which was shot down that road. That was like my second music video before I started wearing the white mask. And that’s where things really started picking up. And that’s when I was like, yeah let me do this music things.

Why did you go with a white bally and stuck with it?

I wore it in a video shot by teeeezy, I had one white mask and one black, me and teeeezy, were in a little place and just picked between the two. And from there I stuck with it. because no one else was really wearing a white mask, so I thought let me claim this from now.

Would you ever take it off?

If I thought it would get to the point where it would better myself, like I can’t reach further with it on, I’ll take it off. I don’t mind, I’ve always wanted to take it off at some point, but it’s my brand now. So, if you know me you know me. if you know me as Jimmy or my other self, you know me.

Do you think they can tell by your voice sometimes?

People clock bare times, I went to a show and this fan was looking at me so hard, looking me in my eyes like he knew something ha-ha, so I’m not trying to engage. And he went, “you’re Jimmy”, I tried to deny it but he was convinced he knew.

Where did you go to school and what were you like?

I went to school around East sides, I was troublesome I’d say. But at the same time, I was well-educated but I was in and out of trouble. But I lasted, through years seven to eleven. So I would say I was alright.

What did you grow up listening to?

I was on a UK Rap thing you know. You know like, Joe Black, Blade Brown, Giggs, all them sorts of artists.

What do you prefer making, Drill or Rap?

Ah… Rap. 100%. I don’t really listen to it much but if it’s the mandem, I’ll play it all day long.

Do you think rapping with your guys makes you want to do Drill more? As you said, most of the guys are on a Drill thing.

Yes and no. Like when I do hear the mandem on Drill it makes me want to get on it. But more time, I stay in my own craft, my own lane. But I do the Drill thing as well though. But it depends on the beat.

Was there anyone from your area that influenced you to Rap?

Course, the mandem. I was repping when I was young, but nothing serious. This was probably when I was 17-18 years old. But after the mandem started pulling through like Unknown T, V9, and Kay-O, I thought let me show my talent as well. and now we’re here.

How did the 98s come about?

Lockdown, us mandem we were always bredrins from when we were young but as the 98s, the music group. It was lockdown. Kay-O’s showed us to do the group thing, like we’re all hard kind of thing. So now we linked up, made a tape and dropped a few videos, that’s where it started. We shot our first video on this estate.

Outside of the mandem in the UK, who else are you listening to right now?

Potter, Headie, a bit of Digga, whatever comes out that is new, I just see what’s going on with it. But more time I just put on my Spotify playlist.

Do you feel like you’re underrated in the scene?

100%. All the time. I don’t know why though, I just feel like audiences don’t appreciate the music as much, but it’s nothing to worry about, we’ll get there. Like I want people to feel my music, what I’m saying is real-life stuff. It’s like painting pictures, you can visualise my music through my lyrics.  

What keeps you Rooted?

Friends, family, my manager – always on my neck to get the work done! I have pressure on my back, but not bad pressure, it’s good. The pressure pushes me to make music which my manager does more time. My friends rate what I do and encourage me to keep doing what I’m doing, so that’s what keeps me Rooted.