“I have been struggling with this decision for years on whether to show my face or stay low key and I have chosen to finally out my voice”
If you look for the name Jo Know in the mainstream media, you may have to struggle and get some scanty details but if you ask on the streets, you will uncover a Hip Hop activist who has been around for sometime doing great pieces of work but chose to remain low key for personal reasons. Jo know, real name Jonathan has been in the local industry of entertainment for some time playing roles as a rapper, videographer, graphics designer and also a DJ since 2015 but has never been okay with the idea of stepping into the limelight.
Well, that is all about to change since he has at long last decided to get rid of his mask and present his art to the world. This media caught up with him ahead of his maiden presentation to the world through his six track E.P dubbed “Finally out”
Jo Know says his music journey kicked off back in high school as a big fan of old school Hip Hop and specifically hardcore. He admired the legend 2pac whom he tried hard to emulate in his hey days.
“A guy like 50cent used to sound weak to me because I was deep into the hard core culture”
The rapper admits that after a while, he noticed that being a fan of hardcore Hip Hop started taking a toll in his life as he adopted cursive language and culture whenever he was among his peers. This all changed after joining ‘A’ level at St. Peter’s Naalya where a friend introduced him to Power FM, a Kampala based station that focuses on gospel and contemporary rap music which completely changed his attitude on life. He says he realized the need to be a model figure in society and for his generation that mostly lacked mentors and people to look up to.
It is at this point that I realized Hip Hop can be used to positively influence society and I slowly started letting go of the hardcore Hip Hop culture. I listened to artists like Lacrae and couldn’t help but wonder what it takes to do what they do. These guys literally embed a whole sermon in a verse and that left me in awe.
Jo know opens up about how he started by guiding his high school friends in freestyle rap sessions, something that made them all believe he was a low key artist who did not want to expose himself.
I didn’t even have a recorded or written song by then but the boys thought I was lying, yet my music knowledge came from being a listener, I listened to a lot of music.
According to him, his whole story changed one time on holiday when he attended a church service and was taking notes from the sermon. He says that after the sermon, he looked at his notes and it hit him that they could form a verse.
I came up with eight bars that I practiced with and later did it on a freestyle in school and everyone went gaga… they couldn’t believe it was me but they were visibly proud.
He further presented his art to fellows in Arua notably Arnold formerly of the steppers dance group who did not doubt what he heard and kept spreading word about how good of a rapper Jo know is. This paved way for the sprouting rapper to be noticed by the industry as one connection would lead him to another.
I met DJ Dranix through Arnold who later introduced me to DJ Poppa and the link kept growing. Before I knew it, the big boys started inviting me for freestyle sessions and I jumped onto cyphers too. I had a good thing going on but never took it professionally till this year.
What changed for Jo know is the realization that one needs to be part of a system in order to cause change. For a long time, the hardcore Hip Hop culture has been perceived as the cool thing but his perspective had changed and he felt the need to be part of the revolution that preaches love and hope instead of hate.
Asked about the target audience for his music, Jo Know rules out the belief that music has to be done for a particular audience or confined to a specific style.
All I can say is that my music is a testimony on real life. The main genre is Hip Hop that defines my inspiration but I wouldn’t want to segment it further.
The rapper adds that he believes his music is a tool to teach people of his generation and transmit positivity in his messages that could help others who may be going through similar situations he talks about in the music.
About the maiden E.P in focus, there are six songs that will be released accompanied by visuals starting this Friday 8th July. Jo know says he has reached an agreement with Humblife under Jeff to handle his brand and distribute the music.
I am not going to stress about getting the music out. My work is to create the product and how it sells will depend on Jeff and his team”.
When requested to summarize the E.P in a sentence, Jo know simply points us back to his E.P title … “Finally OUT” it is. ‘Dear Jonathan’ is the second song dropping off the E.P on 8th July after ‘New day’ which is already out. All these will be available on streaming platforms and also right here where we keep you posted.
Below is the link to his You tube channel where all the E.P visuals will be shared.