WHY I RATE: Tay Jordan

Selected by: Dwayne Wilks

Name: Tay Jordan

Where He’s From: South London

When He Started: “Late 2016. Before rapping I actually used to sing; I was on an R&B flex! [Laughs] I didn’t really have the voice for it—I was no Chris Brown—but the first thing I ever released properly was a political rap song called ‘Molotov Cocktail’, produced by Selecta Suave.”

Genre: UK rap

File Next To: Joe James, Sainte, Ashbeck

Sounds Like: “True to the roots of this thing, but progressive at the same time.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “The era when 50 Cent was popping, as well as Kano, Wiley, and all those guys… I think it was just before Channel U launched that I wrote my first lyrics. They were mad greazy, so when my mum saw them, she ripped them up [laughs].”

Norwood’s Tay Jordan has a style that can’t be mistaken for anyone else’s right now. Through his patented blend of nonchalant flows over Bay Area-inspired beats, his lowrider-ready sound (see: “Real Shit”, “Ain’t Flexin”, “Salute”) have positioned him as one of the scene’s best-kept secrets. When asked about the one song that made him want to take up music, the rapper explains that, in many ways, music was his first language. “My dad’s a producer so I’ve always been in the studio,” he tells TRENCH. “I’ve seen Leona Lewis come through, the Sugababes come through… Like, the Sugababes used to babysit man [laughs]. From those days, I just knew I wanted to make music.”

Although he was raised in the studio environment, it was a run-in with the law that pushed Tay to take this music thing seriously. “I got arrested at one festival,” he explains. “I swear to God, as the cuffs were going on, as the whole thing was going down, I looked to the stage and it was my favourite rapper coming out to perform. But there’s me, getting carried away by the jakes, and I’m thinking to myself: ‘Damn! I’d rather be there, on stage, than in this police van.’ And as I was pacing around that cell, I started plotting on how I can really get stuff cracking.”

That fateful day in 2016 eventually paved the way for Tay to drop his debut EP, Have A Nice Trip, on June 1, 2023. Its 7 tracks rubber-stamps the Larry June/Jay Worthy-inspired, Bay Area bounce as a key feature of the Tay Jordan sound and showcases his disarming charisma as the crutch of his appeal. Tay reveals that he already has eyes set on his second project: “Have A Nice Trip was produced mostly by Lowfades; it’s the sound that everyone is used to from me, but the one after that? That’s the one that’s gonna make things shake for me.”

Describing the sophomore EP as “a whole project of ‘70s and ‘80s samples cut up,” it will draw inspiration from the sounds that filled his childhood home. “My parents are big into Rare Groove,” he adds, “so a lot of that stuff was playing around the house: Parliament Funkadelic, Glenn Jones, and all sorts of other funk music.”

Making the most of the present while crafting designs for the future, Tay Jordan is set on making a lasting impact in the scene. As we finish up the interview, he outlines his short, medium and long-term visions: “My plan is to keep throwing out projects, man. I can make high-quality music, like the Curren$ys, Larry Junes and Jay Worthys of the world, so it’s just about staying consistent. But the ultimate plan is to stay independent, tour all over the world, and open up some shops for my new clothing company, Players Club.” Watch this space.

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Posted on August 30, 2023