Since picking up the mic for the first time in 1999, NJE has been leaving his mark on the Australian Hip Hop scene, spreading positive vibes and music one verse at a time.
Like all creatives, NJE started out as a fan of hip hop music, following artists like 2pac, Biggie and Nas. At the time, the Australian hip hop scene was hard to break through, with very few rappers gaining commercial and mainstream success that they do today.
Starting out was a struggle when NJE first picked up the mic. Being laughed at the idea of a white rapper, but that did not discourage him. He started to write his own verses and his love of the game has only gotten bigger.
With three albums and a mix tape to his name, NJE’s doesn’t show signs of slowing down. His music explores everyday life, using his experiences and the things he has been through to influence his lyrics.
“I try to write music that people can relate to or take something from. I try to have a message in my music, make sure that fans can relate to and may help them through tough times,” NJE said.
With lyrics that have gotten fans out of tough times, his latest album, ‘Like food for the soul,’ was written straight from the heart.
“I’m glad it can make a difference to people’s lives, to inspire young minds, is a great thing,” NJE said.
“You feel like you have accomplished something regardless of how much records you sell. It’s real self-fulfilling to know that you have reached a fan and you may have helped them through a tough time.”
NJE’s music has taken him right around Australia, collaborating with Australian vocalists like Florelie Escano and other rappers like Untaymable. He has been to America, where the scene is bigger, working with some of the games not respected and influential artists like Solomon Childs and Kool G Rap an old school hip hop veteran who has been a major influence to rappers like Jay-Z and Nas.
“I think it’s important to connect with your scene, so working with Australian artists has been a blessing and I think fans love it too,” he said.
“Collaboration all depends on what a track has to offer and what it shows. I like to blend it out a bit.”
NJE has supported some of the biggest names in the game. People like, Mind over Matter, 360, Bliss n Eso, Ice Cube, Xzibit, Bone Thugs and Harmony, the list goes on.
“To me, it’s great supporting all these names, but I prefer if I had my own show and people can and paid to see me,” NJE said.
“I’d rather my own people, it’s just more rewarding when people come up to you and congratulate you on a great show, it feels good.”
NJE started his own label, Essence Entertainment, two years ago because he wanted more control over his music. With an industry that tries to mould artists to be a certain way and known for taking the rights to the music away from the artists, NJE felt it wasn’t for him.
“I like the control and it’s just really great to have your own movement and you make the choices and decisions, you put the artists on and you have the shows,” he said.
Having come close to signing with a label and been stuffed around in the past by digital distributors where money hasn’t come back to him. Started his own label seemed like the next step for NJE.
“My main drive to start the label was to help up and coming rapper,” NJE said. “I wanted to help young people; I wanted to give back to my community, to my scene.”
“We try to put young, hungry talented guys that no one may give them a chance and a lot of these kids come back to me and say, ‘Thank you very much you kick started me,’ and that’s very rewarding to me.”
There is a misconception that rap is associated with violence, drugs, sex, prejudices against homosexuality and the over sexualisation of women.
“A lot of hip hop these days is very positive. But there are a lot of artists who carry on negatively,” he said.
“We try to come with a positive good vibe, so don’t assume, press play and judge for yourselves. I need people who represent something positive, as we are all about positivity.”
“We’re representing what we are all about, positive music, and positive vibes and hopefully we can build something good here.”
When NJE isn’t working on new music or his label you will find him practising and improving his sets in the central tunnel, busking.
“For me it’s very fulfilling. I might be having a bad day and I’m just out there doing what I love and sometimes people will stop you and go ‘this is amazing brother’ and shake your hand,” he said.
“Sometimes you have a conversation with people who are homeless, who have nothing, but they go to you this is great and it’s great to connect with your city.”
You can find out more about NJE on Facebook or catch him in the central tunnel working on his sets and new music, say hello or you can buy a ticket to his end of year party at the Agincourt hotel.
“We just like to unify people and have a goodnight and it’s all about constantly helping people out there and just expand and build the labels reputation,” NJE said.
Photography Ben Williams