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3rd October 2016

Interview: Jez Dior

Who is Jez Dior? Katie Shepherd speaks to the unflinchingly honest rapper—who has seriously invigorated the genre—about his music, his contemporaries, and why you should remember his name

Jez Dior is a name that has been throwing itself around for a while now, yet I am ashamed to admit it took me until quite recently to get around to listening to them. Once I did however, it was clear to see why Jez Dior is at the forefront of an eagerly anticipated movement in hip hop.

Dior’s sound is a uniting of rap and rock, threading the two together with melodic choruses and thrilling guitar in a way that manages to evoke Nirvana-esque grunge layered with cathartic rap.

“We coined the term ‘grunge-rap’ when we were making the EP prior to the new one,” Jez tells me, whilst we’re sat in the dimly lit basement that is Club Academy, the venue in which Jez Dior would later be performing ahead of poet and rapper, Watsky: “The grungy guitar sounds we used while I was rapping was definitely influenced by growing up with rock n roll.”

It’s a masterful marriage of the two, resulting in a sound that both feels fresh and exciting, yet so brilliantly produced I’m left wondering why it hasn’t been done before. Jez Dior manages to destroy the barriers of both of these genres, whilst maintaining a resolute respect for them.

Sobering lyrics meet intoxicating beat in his most recent EP, Youthanasia.  There’s a slight departure from the moody tones of previous releases, many of which focused on Dior’s own personal struggles. From the silkiness of opening track ‘Separate’ to the infectious beat running through ‘Forever’ featuring Elijah Blake, there is a definite feeling of growth as an artist, lyricist, and person.

“When I was recording The Funeral it was a much darker place in my life and when I was recording this one it was a much brighter place in my life. I feel much happier than when I was doing the other project,” Jez confesses, and it shows.

Despite this transition out of the darkness of previous tracks, Jez Dior’s lyrics still maintain a refreshingly pure and intent honesty so rare in mainstream music. “The only thing I know how to do with my music is be honest… It’s always been an outlet for me, that’s the reason I started making it.”

Having already collaborated with G-Eazy on his track ‘Old No. 7’ and opened for Kanye, Jez Dior has already established himself as an important name in the ever-evolving hip hop scene. “G-Eazy is a good friend of mine and the Kanye thing was really nuts, I probably look up to him more than any other artist so that was crazy for me.”

He’s also just signed his first artist, 12AM: “I’m really excited about him and this project,” he tells me, and his enthusiasm for this up-and-coming rapper is clear. But in terms of what people can expect from Jez Dior in the future? “More music.” He nods, “And not [being] afraid to always be honest.”

“I don’t know how to do anything else, so hopefully I’ll keep touring the world and making music. It’s the only thing in the world I like to do.”

Judging by the sheer quality of the music Jez Dior has produced, combined with his humbling integrity and his intense passion for what he creates, there is no doubt that his imprint on the music scene is only set to get bigger.

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