"Jack Flash is an incendiary hip-hop act creating a huge reaction in the UK urban music community. Regarded as northern hip-hop’s l’enfant terrible, Flash is a skilled lyricist with an acidic wit – combining biting social comment with eclectic, original beats to generate music that falls outside of standard hip-hop parameters".
A vibrant and popular live act, Jack Flash has garnered widespread support throughout the UK and the debut Jack Flash album will be available nationwide in June 2007. Press release over, I caught up with Jack Flash at the first birthday party of leading urban music event, Brand New Beat. Held at The Social near Oxford Circus, Flash performed the single ‘Living Legend‘, alongside other new tracks from his debut album ‘Union Jack‘, due for launch this June.
Representing Huddersfield, original home of Jehst and Asaviour, who feature on the album, he is part of the Groundwurq collective and is partners in crime with producer Apatight, who is creating some fantastic J Dilla tinged beats at the moment (check him on Myspace).
Jack not only shoots from the hip with his lyrics but is also a really nice, genuine guy without the ego and attitude of certain other the-government’s-out-for-me, or I-have-been-smoking-weed-too-long-in-the-studio rappers and I eagerly await the full album, ‘Union Jack’ due for launch June 2007, or did I mention that already?!
You go by the stage name of Jack Flash, is that your real name?
Jack Flash: My real name is Rob. My stage name comes from the days when I smoked a lot of weed and there was a strain called Jack Flash. When I first started rapping I went by the name of Jack the Rapper, but there were lots of other people going by the same name so it evolved into the Jack Flash.
What did you look like in the ’80s?
Jack Flash: Like a four year old boy!
How would you describe your look now? What are you wearing?
Jack Flash: Same shit I woke up in really! But I like whatever is fresh especially on stage… Some clothing labels I’m feeling are LRG and 84Fresh, and Klinik Records merchandise is FRRRESH too!! You can donate clothing to me just drop me an email on Myspace!!
Do you borrow any ideas from pop stars?
Jack Flash: Don’t do what they do… A lot of the time these artists are led by their labels. Pop stars come and go and what we are doing is planning for longevity. I like a broad range of underground UK and US hip hop especially older stuff. ‘Pop’ stars I feel are people like Bobby Womack, some good samples there. I’m into Latinmore, Sade, Billy Joel, but overall I like well made music, music with meaning, and that tells a tale. I feel what a lot of underground rappers say but a lot of the time when they go mainstream it seems they no longer mean what they say.
Is there any rap you hate?
Jack Flash: I don’t detest anyone, however, some of the rappers in the limelight today wouldn’t have been given any exposure 10 years ago. People like 50 Cent are watered down. Not that I have anything against him, but the way he’s represented is too much. Sometimes people need to take their foot off the peddle and be themselves not "ultra gangster".
Are you a hit with the ladies? What do you think turns a woman on?
Jack Flash: I’d like to think I am! That must sound arrogant. I just try and be myself. Turning on a woman? A good compliment, attention, treat her well… cat and mouse, treat her mean to keep her keen. The biggest turn on would have to be my new album, Union Jack!
The industry can be pretty sycophantic. Do you get sick of people around you telling you what they think you want to hear?
Jack Flash: Some do, but as an artist it’s important people tell you what’s true, especially the people around you, otherwise you’ll never improve what you’re doing. I’m lucky to work with people who aren’t afraid of being truthful. Ultimately that’s how you keep on ground level and without a massive ego to delude you that you’re hot when you’re not.
How do you keep in shape?
Jack Flash: I used to run. I’m going to get in shape again. I try not to eat shit… a lot of water and a lot of fruit. I’m an extremist, I’ll have a few weeks of getting fucked and then balance it out with a good diet and lifestyle.
Describe a typical day in the life of Jack Flash.
Jack Flash: Get up and turn on the PC, loop the beat, write a rhyme, go to Apatight’s flat. There’s normally a project on the go so we’re usually mixing or recording something. In the evening maybe go for a few drinks. Go to bed, wake up and do it all again.