The UK VIBE With Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson: Joe Black


Yo! Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson here, back once again to drop some UK music knowledge on y’all. I know it’s been a while since I was last in touch, but there’s an artist whose music I think you outta check out. North London’s Joe Black is a rapper who supports his own, often putting his friends before himself on the music side of things, but now it’s time that some of the spotlight was shone on him. So, please let me introduce one of the most lyrically deep rap artists I know, Joe Black…

Joe Black: I’ve been spitting from youth club days, the days when it was all about garage. I’ve been into music from a very young age, from when I was like 12 or 13, and we just used to MC for joke. People soon started to tell me, ‘If you put work in, you could do well.’ I went jail when I was 15 and when I was in there, I would listen to a lot of rap music because it was more relevant to my situation than garage or grime. After that, I never went back to MCing to garage. I started writing rap lyrics and the first batch of lyrics that I wrote were written with an American accent, but I eventually found my way and started putting my own British accent into it (laughs).

A lot of rappers have inspired me, the whole rap scene as a movement inspires me, but it was Big L back then. The way that I rap now is from when I used to listen to Big L and the way Big L used to break down his words and just make as many words in the line rhyme and make it all make sense. Maybe not even punchlines, but making sure that all the words rhyme. So, I could be telling a story and I’m trying to make sure that the story makes sense, but making sure it rhymes as well. That’s what I took from Big L and Jay-Z; they’re the kind of lyrical rappers that I learnt from. I’ve been rapping for a minute now and I like anything that will push it forward. I was there before YouTube was around. Before I started rapping, it was just for a hobby because I was thinking ‘right now, you need a major label to get yourself on the radio and to get yourself heard’. Now there’s the Internet and it’s much easier to reach people.

I don’t really like using the term ‘UK rap’, I’d rather use the term ‘rap from the UK’. It’s no different to any other rap from anywhere else, whether it’s Brooklyn, London, Toronto, Germany or wherever. It’s just rap! It just happens to be that I’m from the UK so I might sound a little different, but it’s the same. What people don’t realise is that people from the UK are saying the same thing that US rappers are saying, it just sounds different. The same way an East Coast rapper might sound different from a West Coast rapper, it’s the same way you’ll sound different to a London rapper. Certain London rappers rap about the struggle, certain rappers rap about parties and some rap about stars, but that happens everywhere. It’s all one game, though. I make songs for the roads, but I make songs for the girls as well.

My last mixtape release, ‘Realionaire’, got the most feedback I’ve ever had. Everything has been a progression since I released my first one in 2004, which I only pressed 500 copies of to locally promote myself. I went to jail and came out in 2007 and that’s when MySpace blew up. I came out and everyone was on my MySpace, that’s when I made ‘Business As Usual’. But that’s when I was selling it, because I was marketing mixtapes like they were albums: getting posters done, putting them in barber shops, etc. But it worked! Every mixtape I’ve done has been better than the last. ‘Realionaire’ might not have made me as much money as any of the other mixtapes, but it has given me exposure and more people have tapped into it. Because it was a free download, people downloaded it and listened to it and now they know more about me.

I’ve realized that there are more things that I can do for myself where I don’t need to rely on a record label for a song. It’s all about progression, man. If I bring out a CD tomorrow and it does better than ‘Realionaire’, I’ll be happy. If I get signed tomorrow, whatever’s meant to be will be! I’ve just got to keep playing my part and leave anything else to God. I’ve always thought that I was the best. I always think that I’m the best rapper in the UK, so getting mentioned in the list for The Source and The Mixtape Awards makes me feel like, ‘Okay, so it’s not just me thinking that I’m doing something.’ When I get recognition, it just motivates me to keep going. I haven’t come into the game thinking, ‘Right, I can make some money out of this’. I’ve always been rapping, going studio and making my friends hear it, so if I can blow up and get successful from doing what I love doing, then so be it.

I’m currently working on an independent LP and just testing the waters to then fling it on iTunes and see what it will be like for me to push out a project by myself, rather than just sitting around. I’m in the studio right now, getting beats and just rapping, trying to get things done. To be honest, it’s all trial and error right now. I’ve never had a manager before so me working with Ashley McDermot, it’s the first time I’ve been working with someone. It’s not always happy days, but it’s the grind. Until we put out the project, we’ll see how it goes. It’s always better to have two heads than one. You know who I’d like to work with in the UK? Wretch 32. I’ve worked with most of the UK artists, so I’ve been lucky, but Wretch is someone who I haven’t worked with yet and I think I could make good music with him.

The UK scene has grown and the people who I feel are getting recognition are starting to get what they deserve. As much as I wasn’t personally happy about not being in MTV’s best MCs list, there were people like Blade Brown and DVS who I respect as artists and know personally and have gone through the same struggle as myself. At least I know that people are looking in the right direction. I just want to big up the whole UK music scene – I could just sit here and big up my people, but I just want to big up the UK scene as a whole. This is the UK movement. This is us! –As told to Joseph ‘JP’ Patterson 

Photography: Liam Ricketts