Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1098

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Feature

Random Impulse: âI Play Guitar And I Rap â Get Over It!â

Jovel Walker aka Random Impulse. Photo copyright: Simon Redley
Jovel Walker aka Random Impulse. Photo copyright: Simon Redley Random Impulse aka Jovel Walker. Photo copyright: Simon Redley Random Impulse aka Jovel Walker. Photo copyright: Simon Redley Random Impulse aka Jovel Walker. Photo copyright: Simon Redley Random Impulse aka Jovel Walker. Photo copyright: Simon Redley

If you know what grime MC Random Impulse, a.k.a. North London rapper Jovel Walker got a degree in, it is not surprising his music is a splicing together of several types of urban styles, to create something no one else is doing.

As a kid he always wanted to be a genetic engineer and eventually went to university to pursue that dream. After graduating, he took a different path and made his music hobby into his career.

Rising from the ranks of grime crew G-Fam, he put out his famed mix tape CD âWord on the Streetâ in 2008, and it sold over 10,000 units in six months. His next project âFull Metal Alchemist,â took him up to another level.

But the grime police were not at all happy with Jovelâs direction, mixing live instrumentation he played, with grime. They turned their back on him. Meanwhile his appeal was spreading across a wide fan base, as diverse as Goths, punks and skaters.
The digital release of Random impulseâs six track âOverloadâ EP, soared to number five in the Hip-hop charts within a day of release, and went to # 76 in the national UK album charts on iTunes - the ONLY unsigned act in the entire top 200 iTunes chart. His recent EP âWild Cardâ reached number nine in the UK mainstream charts in August this year, one track featuring rising star Mikill Pane.

A guitarist, songwriter, MC and producer, 27-year-old Random has written and produced for Lupe Fiascoâs âWe Are Lasers,â on A&M Records. Randomâs tracks have appeared on US TV series âBones,â âEntourage,â and âNCIS,â and on the US Superbowl.

He landed US management and spent time there, making music with a very strong guitar background with grime MC âspittingâ on top. He did US shows supporting 3oh3 and Katy Perry, but he wanted to return to his home town when he felt the US folk did not really know what do with this grime boy from Norrff Larndan.

He has performed support for Tinchy Stryder, The Wombats, Professor Green & Ed Sheeran (his best mate). Random signed Chipmunk to his own imprint Reignasance, engineered for Tinie Tempah, Wretch 32 and Wiley, and remixed Tinchy Stryder.

He is currently working on his debut album, due to drop in 2013 (Top 10 chart hit say I..), with producers as diverse as Guy Chambers, Future Cut (Lily Allen, Kate Nash), Semothy Jones (Little Boots, Plan B) and Brian West (K'naan, Nelly Furtato).

Speaking to me backstage at the V festival, he exclusively revealed to Blues and Soul readers the albumâs title: âShambolica.â

The turning point for his music, he knows well. âA song on âFull Metal Alchemist,â called âThe Heroine.â I had sampled a track from the Vines with a metal riff, and I wished I could play it without having to sample, so I thought, yeah; I am going to teach myself to play live instruments. Everyone on the planet thought I was mad, and every single person said you cannot just stop rapping and start playing electric guitar. I took half a year out, practising eight hours a day until my fingers were bleeding. I learned to play bass, drums and electric guitar.â

âThe worst moment was when I first released âFull Metal Alchemistâ and because it was so different; everyone in the grime scene really shunned it. But six months later, the same people that shunned it, were saying it was one of the best things to come from grime. But that feeling when everyone was slating itâ¦it hurt manâ¦I worked so hard on it, and I know the difference between good and bad.â

âA lot of people who made music were dissing it, but the ones who listen to music all loved it. Funny; the day I was going to sign my record deal, four labels I had visited over the last year, all put in offers.â

âI used to be primarily a rapper and grime artist, and I saw an interview with Jay Z and he said his music sounded like it did because of all the things he listened to. I started to feel myself being a lot more honest â I taught myself the drums, guitar and bass and I do it all myselfâ¦rapping is 50% of your expression, but get the music down too and that is 100%.â

âI want to represent an idea that the guitar is just an instrument. Just because I play electric guitar, it is suddenly something else other than hip hop to some. Iâm a grime MC that plays and produces my own music. But grime and hip hop fans expect a certain sound, and if thereâs a cuckoo in the nest â a guitar â they ask what the f*** is going on? I like to think lyrically I am still the same as I was when I was just grime; so now they accept it.â

So where does Mr Impulse get his inspiration? The answer is surprising: Japanese anime. He watches it constantly and has been âobsessedâ since he saw it on the sci-fi channel aged five. This is actually where the fascination for genetic engineering came from too.

Yeah, nothing at all predictable about Jovel Walker the man, or Random Impulse the artist. You know that saying: âthey broke the mould when they made so and soâ¦.?â Well he takes the mould, smashes it into thousands of pieces, glues it back together and then sticks it on a shelf to completely ignore it. Now thatâs randomâ¦â¦

See Random Impulse on 28th Feb 2013 @ Cargo, London.

All Photos Copyright: Simon Redley
Words SIMON REDLEY

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