Wesley Joseph

Selected by: James Keith
Photography: Rashidi Noah

Name: Wesley Joseph

Where He’s From: Walsall, West Midlands

Genre: UK Hip-Hop/Soul

File Next To: Jeshi, Joe James, DC, Kam-Bu

When He Started: 2011

Sounds Like: “Soulful, experimental, nostalgic, electronic, R&B, hip-hop.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “‘Feel Good Inc.’ by Gorillaz.”

A glance at Wesley Joseph’s Spotify page would suggest the Walsall-born rhymer is only just embarking on the second year of his career, but early releases like “Imaginary Friends” and “Martyrs” are actually the culmination of at least a decade’s worth of work. In fact, as it turns out, Joseph has been making music since 2011 when he was just a 13-year-old rapping over 9th Wonder Beats and calling himself J Willis.

Having laid the groundwork early, the 24-year-old artist is now a powerhouse of creativity. His sound is an accomplished one, slipping fluidly between rap, R&B and soul. There’s also a noticeable maturity in both his writing and his understanding of the classics. That, no doubt, can be credited to the records his dad used to play in the house. “My dad had all the oldies playing in the house 24/7,” he tells TRENCH. “A lot of Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Roy Ayers, Smokey Robinson and much much more—stuff I never knew the names of, but knew bodies of work by ear.”

Wesley Joseph’s talents aren’t just limited to music. He’s written, directed and scored his own short film, Pandomony, and directed the video for his second single, “Martyrs”. Again, that steadfast creative vision weaves its way through everything he does, taking nostalgic elements—whether it’s a piece of fashion or even lighting—and jetting them into the 21st century. Take his latest, “Ultramarine”, for example: the soulful falsetto and funk touches of the track were brought right to the forefront with the video’s soft ‘70s lighting, diamond-encrusted gloves and bursts of glitter—and yet it all feels completely new.

Looking ahead, Wesley Joseph has his sights on making “a timeless album that pushes things forward.” That may come sooner rather than later as he adds that he is currently sitting on an album that he’s “100% proud of.” If this recent run, particularly “Ultramarine”, is anything to go by, then ‘timeless’ could be exactly right.

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on May 19, 2021