There are many seasoned spitters in the city of trees, our local scene is killin’ it with gifted emcees. London rhymer, Shad, perhaps the most known, is one of a few rap artists that helped put London’s hip-hop culture on the map. Among other contributors, including Casper The Ghost and JR Fillion, there also stands local vet, Ngajuana – an incredibly humble individual and accomplished artist in his own right with a very respectable hustle when it comes to the game.
“Everyday I – see someone I don’t recognize, nose looks familiar, and the eyes look weaponized,
How many mirrors have I looked in, searching my own face, for clues to my history and still I got no trace”
– Ngajuana (from the track “Whose Face Is This?”)
Purists rejoice – hip-hop heads tired of contemporary mainstream offerings will feel rescued when bumping Ngajuana’s tracks. A succinct way to describe Ngajuana’s pen game is “articulate“ with emphasis on ‘art‘, deviating from the incoherent, dumbed down, played out topics prominent in commercial mumble rap (do we really need to go there?). Given the breadth of his catalogue, we’ll be focusing on his more recent material. His ability to convey complex concepts and emotions, ranging from heartfelt personal experiences (like “Whose Face Is It?”) to flat out body tracks (similar to “Omni-Sexual”), is done with razor sharp expertise. Ngajuana’s bars are intricately constructed of raw, rhythmic lyricism – delivered with tongue-in-cheek punch lines and witty wordplay. It makes for a breath of fresh air for traditionalists that prefer the style and feel of mid 90s-00s hip-hop.
This guy lives, breathes and bleeds the culture, igniting the mic with every breath! I was able to catch him perform along with Sons Of Boom Bap last February at The Outback Shack (opening for A.F.R.O. and international underground heavy hitter, R.A. The Rugged Man). His mind, body and soul get locked in to the performance with an unbreakable focus. Ngajuana’s flow wasn’t so much riding the beat as it was working in tandem with it, altogether lending an unrivalled energy I haven’t seen in most emcees, whether on stage or in front of the camera.
His moves pack clout in the Canadian hip-hop scene, having founded the Dreamsters Union, collaborated and/or performed with (but not limited to) Celph Titled, Choclair, Classified, Shad (also from London), Method Man & Redman and the aforementioned R.A. The Rugged Man.
Ngajuana just can’t seem to put the pen down. Upcoming projects are teased on his Facebook wall with posts of new lyrics and concepts. He’s written hundreds of tracks, released a steady stream of albums and EPs as well as being featured on countless mixtapes across the country. In recognition for his hard work, the Fanshawe College Music Industry Arts graduate has received the Jack Richardson Music Award Winner for “Best Rap/Hip-Hop” and CHRW Radio’s (Radio Western) Fan Favourite Award (both in 2013) as well as the Music Industry Arts “Best Hip-Hop/EDM” Award in 2017.
Ngajuana’s latest feat is releasing two independently written/produced EPs within two months, dropped in June and July, titled SickSongs and SickSongsToo respectively. Both of which are incredible listens front-to-back and set a bar in quality, considering how little time these two projects took to complete. Standout tracks include: “Clap Your Hands”, “Biodegradable”, “Broke Neck feat. Bobbi Redd” and “The Juggernaut” – however, I’ve given both EPs a few solid listens already so, with all due respect, it was hard to narrow it down. With a third instalment on the way, he’ll be wrapping the season up with SickSongs Triplicate. Rumour has it, a new album is also in the works with an anticipated release said to be later this year.
His grind is steady, holding it down in dad mode while making moves as an artist in the Canadian hip-hop scene. He took a few minutes out of his busy schedule to shed some insight on some questions relating to the craft.
LDN_Reverb: You’re always posting new bars on Facebook and make frequent allusions to both upcoming projects and those you already have on the go. While life is busy, what keeps you inspired behind the pen and motivates you to keep your grind strong?
Ngajuana: Passion. I want to be the best I can, at everything I do; it just so happens I tend to do this more than most other things in my life. I obviously could never be sure of this, but I feel that I have a sense for the language, that I think is probably not common and, as such, feel I have a responsibility to the craft/London/myself and those I represent. I’m lucky to have found (what I believe to be) my purpose on Earth. Not everyone gets to do what they love, and some people never even figure out what they love. I’ve always had a drive within me, that won’t allow me to do less than what I feel I’m capable of, as well.
Potential is a fickle thing, in that, the opinion of one’s potential is completely a matter of perspective, timing and (lastly) skill. The reality of potential is that, you can have as much or more than anybody else, but it will never be actualized without ‘sticktoitiveness’, passion, strategy and skill. Also, to put it simply, I want to be remembered. I want my work to mean something, when all is said and done and my time has run the clock. Everything I do, I do with an eye on my legacy.
LDN_Reverb: You’ve been at this a long time and saw London’s hip-hop scene go through many changes. You’ve experienced how other cities hold down and represent their scene. In your opinion, what’s one thing London’s hip-hop culture has been able to do consistently well over the years, and what’s one thing the scene could do to improve?
Ngajuana: Love for the foundation of Hip-Hop. Not love because it’s expected, but genuine respect for where it came from, mixed with passion for where the art is headed. London could accurately be described as an “old-school hip-hop” town. That’s not to say that no one is making contemporary, “up-to-date” hip-hop…, it’s more to say that, London is probably the most diverse, across-the-hip-hop-spectrum place that I have rapped. I never have more of a sense that, people understand what’s going on and why it’s happening, than I do when I’m at home.
LDN_Reverb: Being a new entrant into the hip-hop scene can be daunting, due to its at-times apprehensive nature. What gave you the confidence to face potential haters and what advice would you give to aspiring emcees who might be facing those challenges?
Ngajuana: Do you. When you’re looking back on your career, the most important thing is whether you can respect the work you’ve done, the time you’ve put in and the message you left behind. View hip-hop as your “message-in-a-bottle”, or your contribution to a time capsule. You should, as an emcee, represent your era; further learning within your community; respect the tenets of the craft; represent yourself, your beliefs and the next step, in an evolutionary process of which you are only a small part, or the next step of.
As for myself, being black in a mostly-white hip-hop scene, was a boost to my confidence. I’ve never had a problem being honest (as I see it), or saying what I think, so the biggest hurdle was getting past the instant-credit I kind of inherited and earning my spot, undeniably. Haters have never been an issue, for me. Mostly because I don’t care what other people think (it’s freeing, I find). I make what sounds good to me and hope others agree. If they don’t, they don’t and that’s completely fine. You have to have thick skin to be a performer/artist. If you don’t have that, develop it, or quit. Life is short; but it’s got a way longer shelf-life than an ignored opinion.
What he’s up to next is anyone’s guess. Keep tabs on this LoCity flowist on his social media, then hit up his Bandcamp page and crank the system!
Facebook – www.facebook.com/ngajuana/
Instagram – @ngajuana_the_pot_fried_prince
Bandcamp – ngajuana.bandcamp.com/