Issued by: Staff writer Joan Hendricks
Cape-Town born rapper and musician, Jerome Rex hails from Kuilsriver and recently scooped two Ghoema Awards (April 2019) in Johannesburg. We chatted to him about how he juggles life in the spotlight, winning two Ghoemas and what’s next for him.
Please tell us more about yourself and what you do.
I’m a rapper, singer, songwriter and performing artist born and raised in Cape Town. I have high ideals for what I’d like my music to achieve – the aim is contribute to culture and challenge the norms around mainstream content.
That includes the themes you expect to hear in popular music, as well as prevailing social standards of beauty and opinions about concepts like absolute truth.
Musically, I love creating art that is relatable, honest and good!
How did it all start for you?
Growing up in a musical family I’ve always been singing – first around the house at home, then in our church and youth choirs.
My first exposure to hip hop was at high school when someone played me a KRS-One tape and I was hooked! I started getting involved in the culture and writing my own lyrics.
From there I would perform with the crew I was involved in at the time at school concerts, carnivals and bazaars. That whole experience helped shape my musical voice and identity.
What does winning two Ghoema Awards mean to you?
I was nominated in 2 categories – Beste Afrikaanse Hip Hop Liedjie and Beste Hip Hop Album, and won the best album accolade. The award is a great validation of the effort that went into producing the album. A big team of people devoted many hours to creating the best project they possibly could. The Ghoema award is a recognition of the artistic merit we believe the music holds. To have an independent panel confirm that is a great feeling.
It was especially humbling to be nominated alongside very talented and successful artists in Early B, HemelBesem and YOMA. We’ve been contemporaries for a long time and I have great respect for them as lyricists and musicians.
How do you juggle being an artist/musician, dad and husband?
With great difficulty! There’s no magic formula for getting it right – even if someone else seems to be managing, it won’t necessarily work for you because everyone’s situation is different.
I try to work from the reality that our time is finite. I’ve learned to say no and not to double book my time. I also try to prioritize husband and dad time, because those are the most important relationships.
Who are some of your role models?
Shaheen Ariefdien of POC was a huge influence in my formative years as an emcee. He remains one of the greatest lyricists our country has ever produced.
I follow Eric Roberson because I love his music and his business acumen in managing his own career independently.
DJ Ready D is a great role model for his longevity as an artist. He just turned 50 and, if anything, he seems to be gaining momentum instead of slowing down. I love how artists like him rewrite the rule book and defy expectations of what can be achieved in their field.
What is next for you?
I’m currently planning the release events for my latest music video off the Al Jerome album. The song is titled Ek Sal and features George native Hakkiesdraad Hartman and a guitar solo by Allou April.
To celebrate the Cape Town/Garden Route partnership, we’re hosting 2 events – one in Mossel Bay and one in Central Cape Town.
Beyond that, the intention for the 2ndhalf of 2019 is to tour and promote the album. I have so many open doors around the country and I want to honor the support I’ve been getting by visiting those people ‘at home’.
Any words of wisdom to young aspiring artists trying to make it in the music world?
Before you do anything, you absolutely have to sit down and define what you consider success. This will differ for everyone and in large will determine the musical and business decisions you make regarding your career. The music industry will present you with many opportunities and choices, and if you have a solid idea of who you are and where you want to be, it will be a lot easier to navigate that maze.