NJE's new single, featuring Unchained, is titled 'Pay Attention'.
From the street to the stage, Brisbane hip hop artist NJE peddles philosophic wordplay that will make you stand up and pay attention.
NJE has released a new track 'Pay Attention' that features Sydney rapper Unchained, and is the third single to be taken from NJE’s upcoming fourth album titled 'The Evolution Of One's Self'.
A familiar face on-the-mic busking in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley, NJE has also cut his teeth performing live supporting and playing shows with the likes of Ice Cube, Xzibit, Public Enemy, Chance Waters, Illy & M-Phazes, Spit Syndicate and heaps more.
Here, NJE talks about the new single and album while sharing his street-spun wisdom on everything from inspiring new talent to the advice he wish he'd received when he was younger.
How did you and Unchained come to work together on 'Pay Attention'? Unchained and I are very good friends, and have been for over 15 years. It's been a long time since we’d done something together, so it was great to reunite for this one.
It's the third single taken from your forthcoming album, 'The Evolution Of One's Self'; what can you tell us about the album and what you want to achieve with it? That's correct. The album is a very deep and personal look into my life. I touch on many topics. It's about how we all grow, change and evolve. I want people to relate on their own level to it. I know many will and have from the singles alone.
'Pay Attention' is one of the most upbeat, feel-good tracks from the album. I think people will really appreciate and enjoy this album. It's definitely a special body of work to me personally.
How have you seen yourself evolve as an artist over your releases? Oh for certain, just like I've evolved in life. I think reinventing yourself is important. I still keep my core style but the production, topics and message just gets better and better. I'm very confident this is my best work to date.
Is there a message or philosophy that helps guide the music you create? Yes! So many. Two of my faves would be: 'You need to invest, to progress' and 'believe and achieve'. I'm a very deep soul and I invest so much of my time and myself into this music. Music to me is life. It's therapeutic.
You're also running workshops for young creatives – what do you want to teach them about? Yes, I'm about to start doing some workshops at Ipswich High School (QLD) and then I'll be expanding to do songwriting and mentoring talented kids in my area. I want to take this all over, and through my travels I'm confident I will.
I'll be teaching them about my experiences and what it takes to make this more than a hobby. I will be also telling them about how it got me through being a teenager. I have so much to say and share. I can't wait to make a difference.
A piece of advice you wish you'd gotten when you were younger? Just to believe more in myself. To stick to my guns more. You know you can achieve anything if you work hard enough. I also wish I started my own movement sooner. There's nothing like just doing it and being proud because you're doing it well.
You can often be spotted busking in Brisbane; what does performing hip hop on street level like that teach you about the craft? That's awesome that you know this, haha! Yes, you can spot me in [Fortitude] Valley often. It's very therapeutic for me. It teaches you so much. You meet so many cool people and you meet some not so cool people.
I'm very good with people and personalities though so I enjoy it. I love taking it back to the street. It's a rush to me. . . It's always so much fun.
A common misconception people have when you tell them you're a hip hop artist? Haha, I usually say I'm a musician. Then if they ask more I tell them more. Most hip hop is wack. Even us artists will tell you that. However, I break it down for them and tell them I have a message in my music. I have many older fans because of this. My music is also pretty clean, so all ages can enjoy it.
What else are you working on at the moment? ATM, I'm focusing on showcase shows I'm hosting via my independent label, The Essence Entertainment. I've been running / hosting showcase shows all over Australia. We just sold out an Adelaide one on the weekend, which was so fun. I take a lot of pride in giving back to the new cats who want it.
Besides that, I'm doing the workshops and wrapping up the new album. I'm a busy man just doing what I love.