Wrap Up And Watch Out: Jade Dragon
The ability to think outside of the box isn’t something everyone is blessed with, and there are few individuals as driven and as forward thinking as Jade Dragon. The Wrap Up’s Tobi Oke caught up with the south London-born rapper to talk music, raving, acting and everything else involved in his brave vision of a new London...
The Wrap Up: Your bio lists a load of occupations: rapper, actor, model, label owner and club night promoter. Are these all roles you take completely seriously?
Jade Dragon: Yeah, of course! They’re all things that I’ve been doing since I can remember. They’re all things I’ve established and they’re things that I get paid to do. I pay tax, so I definitely take it seriously (laughs).
TWU: Which of these jobs are more important to you at this moment in time?
Jade Dragon: I’ve been ticking the ‘other’ box for my whole life – I’m mixed race, half Jamaican, half Irish – and people used to say, ‘Do you wanna be black or white?’ I could never figure that question out, I could just only do me! It’s the same way that most people didn’t think a producer could rap as well, until Kanye came along.
TWU: How hard is it to split your attention between so many interests?
Jade Dragon: It’s hard, man, but I think time management is major when you want to get professional with it. It starts with having a creative brain that never sits still and I’ve never tried to anything I couldn’t do.
TWU: Tell us a bit about your last release…
Jade Dragon: On Boxing Day, I released my first mixtape – ‘On The House Vol.1’ – and I called it that because it was free, basically. I’m just spreading the scene that I represent right now, which is New London.
TWU: How would you describe your music and your personal style in general?
Jade Dragon: I’m a mixed race London boy, but growing up in London, you experience different backgrounds and minorities, so it’s a melting pot. That’s definitely the style with my mixtape. I don’t sing or anything like that, I’m definitely a rapper, but I don’t limit myself to anything.
TWU: What influence did growing up in south London have on you?
Jade Dragon: South London is the part of London that hasn’t even got tube lines. When the tourists come to London, they don’t come here. What you must remember is that south London is half of London and it’s a battleground. When I was younger, I did get involved in negative stuff, but that was all part of growing up.
TWU: Tell us a bit about your acting and your ambitions…
Jade Dragon: Everything I do, I try and be the best at it. There’s no point trying to be Aston Villa, when you know that you want to be Barcelona. I plan on taking acting as far as I can. I’ll carry on acting until they put me in the grave.
TWU: So, what’s the current situation with your music camp, Market’Ting?
Jade Dragon: Market’Ting have put out acts like XO Man and I’m basically the next one. I’m from a little place in south west London called Mitcham, which is also where acts such as Startzy and Master Shortie are from. I reckon people have been getting into our sound, reluctantly, but with what I plan to do, I’m gonna be the poster boy for not only the new south London, but the whole of London.
TWU: You also run popular London club night, ‘The Bang Bang’. How did you come up with that?
Jade Dragon: It was probably about a year ago when I sat down with a good friend of mine and looked at how there were a lot of rules to raving. You’re more or less told what to wear, what to drink and where to go. We just thought there was way too much rules involved in having a good time. We went to loads of places to rave – because that’s what London is like, you can go to a different type of night every single night – and we just took the best elements out of each scene, invited everyone, took out the rules, threw in the odd blow up animal and a piece of jerk chicken and said, ‘Let’s party!’
TWU: Where would you like to see yourself in the short and long-term future?
Jade Dragon: In the short-term future, it’s gonna be music: more gigs, more visuals and the release of my long awaited EP, ‘Dragon’s Den’. I’m also working on my next release as we speak. So from now until the end of the year, it’s just shows. I’ll also be taking my play, ‘Boy X’, nationwide. In the long-term future, if I’m still alive (laughs), then it’s anything I can get myself into. I won’t cut myself short.
TWU: And finally, what would be your advice to anyone looking to get started in music, acting or promotions?
Jade Dragon: Just listen to your heart. My mum and dad got up every single day and made sure that there was a roof above our heads, without a doubt, consistently. It’s all about keeping the consistency, and the only way that you’ll keep up the consistency is if your hearts in it and if you love what you do.
Stay up to date with Jade Dragon on Twitter – www.twitter.com/JadeDragonMusic
Words: Tobi Oke (@TeflonTobz)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)