Daily Discovery is a feature that highlights a new or recently discovered artist who we’re excited about. See the rest of our Daily Discoveries here.
It’s time for Keita Juma. He’s been releasing music for years, but trends are shifting in his favor, and elements that would have sounded completely foreign years ago make perfect sense in today’s soundscape. In other words, the world is catching up.
Keita Juma is a rapper/producer/DJ based in Mississauga, Canada (a suburb of Toronto), born in Bristol, England, and with Jamaican roots. He blends styles including but not limited to: hip-hop, grime, dub, reggae, house, alternative rap, and jungle. But before you imagine a mess of wave-riding, forced genre-mashing, or trend-hopping, listen to Keita Juma. There’s nothing unnatural about it.
Juma’s Nights In Space A Short Film is out now, and he’ll be releasing more this year.
Can you introduce yourself? Where are you from? When did you start making music?
I am Keita Juma, born in Bristol and now I live in Mississauga. I started trying to write raps at 11 with my cousins. Was in a few groups growing up until I started making music by myself at about 17.
How have the places you’ve lived affected your music?
I draw inspiration from wherever I am and what I find special about that place. That usually comes from spending a lot of time outside taking in the area. Putting the sounds over a different backdrop allows me to hear and see it in a different way, and new cities usually inspire new songs.
Are you always aware of your influences and where you get certain things from, or does it all just come together for you?
I’m pretty aware of my influences in that sense, whether it’s a word on a piece of paper or the bass line of a song I remember from when I was a kid. A lot of the ambition behind Chaos Theory was Saul Williams and Shabazz Palaces. I felt like that general sound and what I loved about grime, jungle, and house would go perfect together.
So you’ve been putting out music for a while now. What’s the difference between your older music and the music you’re making right now?
My production and mixing has changed just from how much I’ve used the programs. Making or hearing a beat I like makes it exciting to write for. I try to steer clear of wack beats, they do nothing for me. When I was younger, I would entertain it, try to write something, now I’m like nah, I’ll make another.
“F R E E L Y” is the song that really grabbed me. Can you tell me a little about that song?
I was at acres with my manager and Jahmal and they were having a convo about dunk gifs or just dunks in general. I remembered that disrespectful dunk Vince Carter did on some French guy. His feeling after that must have been what it truly means to be at supreme confidence, god level. Jahmal played the beat and it got my mind racing, also thought of that 12 O’Clock Boys documentary. Those slow motion shots is the exact same feeling—mindset dunk gif bike wheely. Jahmal also one of the only people I’ve met who has been into grime as much as me from when I first met him in like ’05.
What music did you grow up listening to? What music are you listening to now?
For the first 10 years of my life it was pretty much rap, R&B, reggae, and jungle. My dad was close with the owner of this record store in Bristol so we always had new music. 2Pac was my favorite when I was a kid, really broke my heart when he died—I was hoping I’d meet him one day. I love everything about rap. To this day, I’ve never been that person mad at where it’s going. “Original Nuttah” was the tune that made me fall in love with jungle, and Wiley made grime make sense to me immediately. I’m still listening to whatever comes my way. I’ll just pick a new album when I get in the car or when I’m about to take the bus and take it in from start to finish. I’ve had the new Chronixx tracks on repeat lately.
What’s your least favorite thing about music or the music industry right now?
Joss Stone getting reggae album of the year on Billboard doesn’t make sense to me. The AMAs don’t make sense to me. The Grammys don’t make sense to me. The usual stuff.
If you could be making music in any other decade, which would it be?
This one. Racism is way too real for me to have my expectations 10 years ago, despite what we saw on screens, the black artists of the past had to go through a lot. The crazy thing is it still isn’t over, but its way better than it was before.
What are your plans for 2016?
To take this new music on the road, bring the live show to people. I’ve been performing in Toronto for a minute now. Also got a few projects in the works, just started working on my album, 2016 should be exciting.
What else do you want people to know about Keita Juma?
Download a copy of Chaos Theory or Nights in Space a Short Film and play it for a loved one over a long drive or a candle lit evening. Just let staring at the computer screen be the last way you take in this project.
IN JUNE is the name of my next album out. I don’t know when.