Catching up with Nottingham rapper Juga-Naut
Juga-Naut has been a mainstay of the Nottingham hip hop scene for years now and as an artist gets stronger and stronger every year. Having been a fan of his vivid lyrical flow for a while now, it was a pleasure to have a chat with him about his brand new album Bon Vivant, working with Sonnnyjim on last year’s excellent The Purple Door album, his passion for both hip hop and cuisine, the legacy of Nottingham hip hop, sharing the stage with Rakim and DJ Premier, his work as a producer, the rap Mecca that is New York and what he had planned for 2019.
Your new project Bon Vivant just dropped, can you tell us about that?
Yeah, Bon Vivant is out now and its going down really well, it’s had a huge reception and good radio play. People are really latching onto what I do and it’s amazing.
Your collaborative album The Purple Door with Sonnyjim came out late last year. How did the creation and recording of the album go?
It worked well, I recorded the full album in three sessions down in London at Sonnys studio. It was smooth man, a lot of charcuterie meats, sourdough bread, beer, wine and weed smoke. Plus, shout out to Purist and not forgetting Kobe The Frenchie.
How did you and Sonnyjim link up?
Sonny reached out to me on Twitter probably about 2016 and it was 2017 that he sent me a pack of beats and I got to writing.
Were you a fan of his work before?
Yeah man, I knew of him from the battling days too and Mud In My Malbec is a UK staple album man.
Did you work together on the beats and rhymes for The Purple Door or did you bring them separately?
Sonny did all the beats separately, and I took them and wrote to them. Some of the tracks we did together in the studio on that spot. Duck Season was a special one.
The album includes features with Vandal Savage and Cappo. What did they bring to their tracks?
They brought their own flavour and flow, they are my VVV Bozo Boy OZOB yob brothers for life and when we form, it is a Notts Voltron.
What has the reaction to the album been like so far?
It’s been simmering and had a sick underground buzz, people absolutely love the artwork too so shout out to Matt Littler on that. The vinyl an tapes have been moving well too.
There is a big food influence on the album, especially on the track Duck Season. Is food and cooking a massive influence on your music?
Yeah, and Sonny is a big foodie too man. Its cool nowadays be we’ve been really into it for a while. Ive been rapping about food since 2006. I was always a fat kid, and it just transferred to the music. Decadence and Flyness.
How did you get into cooking in the first place?
Just through my love of food. My family have always cooked and eaten well and it spingboarded from there, plus I grew up with so many friends from all backgrounds. Being mixed race, multiculturalism is really important to me and food is the gateway to other worlds and cultures.
How is your Chef Jugz food delivery service going and can you tell us all about that?
Yeah, I have a catering service where I do private parties and even corporate catering, but when I do home deliveries I cook and delivery to you in person, it is once in a while but when it happens it’s a sell out, lemon pepper wings, mac n cheese, honey butter cornbread that kind of thing!!
What is your speciality dish?
I would say my friend chicken, I have perfected it over the years, every layer is seasoning from marination to the final dry season shake.
Do you approach your cooking with the same vivacity as you do to rap?
Yeah, Its pure art, the art form is about being free. Expressing, I give everything, I do a generous helping.
What is your favourite food related rhyme of all time?
BIG PUN : o, yo, champagne on the rocks, sporting a Fort Knox Lazarus. Shark salad with carrots, pork chops and applesauce.
How did the recent album release for The Purple Door at Rough Trade in Nottingham go?
It was sick, a lot of people I didn’t expect came out, other emcees from notts too so I really respect that and the support. It was a party, drinks, fun and I made some food and gave it out free. Boujee gourmet sandwiches. Shout out to Rough Trade, they support me so much and have really helped move the scene and my own career music/food wise forward.
What do you bring to each performance as a live performer?
I bring energy, I’m a big guy but I can move and I get the crowd participating without it being cheesy or forced. I give 110% whether its 3 people or 3000, which I did supporting the sleaford mods with VVV and Cappo at the London Roundhouse in 2016.
You have played shows with the legendary likes of DJ Premier and Rakim. That Rakim show at the Rescue Rooms was the first time I saw you live and witnessing him live was an unforgettable experience me. Did you get a chance to hang out with the Microphone Fiend and what was that like?
One of the best feelings in life and being able to chop it up with them before and after their shows, its a beautiful thing to share time with legends, especially when they are as humble as the GOD Rakim. Thats thanks to Joe Budha for putting me on a lot of these shows. Rakim just sat and talked with us for maybe a couple of hours man it was crazy, after he just did the show too! I never, ever will forget.
Who would you love to share a stage with in the future?
I supported Ghostface in 2017 so Raekwon would be ILL!! Griselda, Action Bronson, Alchemist, Yusef Kamaal, BONES.
Have you got any upcoming live shows?
Yeah, I have a few I’m waiting on dates for. I’m doing Beat The Streets a charity show on 27th January at Rough Trade in Notts, headlining!
Are you constantly working on new material and how do you find the time to fit everything in? It must be quite a balancing act!
Man, I’ve got so much on, it’s crazy but I make it work, somehow. Watch out for Twelve Bricks with Micall Parkinson, JUGA-NOVA with Tommy Nova, the VVV International Jeff tape, and I just started an album with Giallo Point, plus a bag of features.
How did you get into hip hop in the first place?
My Dad is a poet and drummer and he got me into Hip-Hop and I was exposed to amazing music from the day i was born by my parents.
What was the first hip hop album you ever bought?
The Low End Theory by A Tribe Called Quest.
What is about your home city of Nottingham that brings out the best if the artist in yourself?
It’s a small place and we have a lot to prove. Its grimy and we are all crazy! Plus the accent works for rapping very well. We don’t draw out our words. So we can fit a lot of syllables in.
You rep Nottingham to the fullest. Who could you recommend for us to check out from the city at the moment?
Cappo, Vandal Savage, Scorzayzee, Harleighblu, Yasmin Lacey, Joe Buddha, Kamar, Sleaford Mods, Snowy, Space City, Stan…. so many to mention! That’s just a few off the top.
Nottingham has obviously produced a multitude if influential MCs, DJs and producers from Joe Buddha, Mr 45 and Scorzayzee to the P Brothers and Cappo. Who are some of your favourite artists of all time to come out of Notts and what influence have they had on you as an artist?
All of the people you mentioned there are my favourite and the best in the country/world. I’m lucky enough to call some my friends and mentors. It’s just the want and need to be the best at the craft and truly respect the art form.
What spots can you recommend for any hip hop heads heading to Nottingham?
Rough Trade, Rock City, Rescue Rooms, Bar 11, Bodega all have Hip-Hop Events, but knowehere play consistently so you have to go when they’re on. I run a night called Fresh Out The Oven also at Yarn Bar.
You recently visited New York, was that to work on music?
Yeah, I worked on some and just had a holiday. It’s the place I fit in the most I have ever been in the world.
Did you hit up the whole of New York or were you based in one location?
I went to every borough which was amazing and i stayed in a family owned Brown Stone in Bedstuy. Shout out to Juices For Life that was just down the blocked and owned by The Lox.
New York will always be the Mecca for hip hop but what is the state if hip hop like in the city at the moment?
It’s still blossoming and the ‘underground’ is killing it, man. People like Meyhem Lauren, Crimeapple, Griselda and all the legends are still active it will always be the mecca.
Did you catch any shows while you were over there?
Yeah, I went to see Crimeapple at SOBs. It was a good night and I bumped into Icerocks who I met in London the December before and also met Your Old Droog.
What is your favourite New York MC of all time? Or if you could pick one each from The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Harlem, Staten Island if that’s easier!
Biggie, Big Pun, Nas, Camron, Raekwon/Ghostface. The list can go on but they were all on top. And MF DOOM/Roc Marciano from Long Island.
You produced a beat on the brilliant new Children Of Zeus album, how did that collaboration happen?
I have known Konny Kon since 2010 after doing a show in Manchester for Broke N English with Scorzayzee. Manchester is like a second home coz my jam are from there anyway. But we have just stayed friends since than and than got to know Tyler too. They asked me to send some beats and they picked that once for Respect Mine which was perfect. They are very good brothers and have helped my career a lot have all the time for them. Much respect.
Will you work with them again?
You also recently supported Children Of Zeus at The Bodega, how did that show go?
Fucking amazing! SO many people from Notts came out that I don’t usually see out too. A well rounded road 50/50 women to men ratio, very mixed, which never happens at a hip-hop show so that was wicked. I DJd for myself for the first time and that went really well. Everyone killed it. Thanks again for the opportunity CoZ.
Who else have you produced music for?
Not that many people but I’ve got loads coming up as I’m branching out.
If you could rhyme over a track by any producer, who would you choose and why?
Rhymes Like Dimes by MF DOOM. Its just perfect.
Do you approach beatmaking the same way you approach your rapping?
I respect it the same was as I do rapping, but my producing is more sporadic, I write almost everyday but producing I usually will make a batch of like 6-10 beats every three week in a day and thats how they come together.
What are your favourite hip hop beats of all time and what makes them so memorable for you?
We Gonna Make it for Jadakiss by Alchemist – 4,5,6 by Kool G Rap – We Got The Props by Black Moon – I Realiy Mesn It by Camron (Just Blaze) just off top. I could go on for ever!
What music are you currently listening to?
Yosef Kamal, Children of Zeus, John Coltrane, anything on Nervous Records. Black Sabbath always and to be honest I just listen to The Church of Whats Happening Now everyday. I love podcasts and hope to do one soon.
What has been one of your favourite albums released in the past year?
Glass by Meyhem Lauren & Harry Fraud.
What are your plans for the rest of 2019?
Everything. I’m trying to release four projects and I’ve got loads of catering gigs. And hope to tour, maybe supporting a bigger artist
I’m a music journalist based in the U.K. with a love for bass music in many forms from drum & bass and dubstep to hip hop and grime. Always looking to check out new music as well as digging back for the classics and attending as many events as possible.