He's just released The MengiBus Mixtape - mixed by DJ IQ, hosted by Sir Smurf Little of The Colony and featuring not just Jehst's own verses and production but also more than a few guest spots, including but not limited to the usual YNR / LowLife suspects. Which seemed like a good moment to ask him a few questions about this that and t'other.
Interested parties can check my review of the mixtape on the Straight Out Leodis blog . Quick precis – it's dope as fuck...
Tell us about the Mengi Bus Mixtape that you’re currently touting. What’s the concept behind it?
Jehst: I just set out to put together a sick mixtape that reflects my skills and the skills of those involved. A lot of rappers are putting out CD’s that are basically compilation albums and calling them mixtapes. This is a proper DJ mixtape! DJ IQ gets to show his skills but its balanced with the musical and lyrical content so you get to appreciate both.
You seem to have been fairly coy in the advance publicity as to what exactly “Mengi”means - any chance of an explanation?
Jehst: The Mengi Bus is just our preferred method of transport. A ‘Mengi’ is anyone who dares to ride! The whole point is that everyone will have their own interpretation. Just ask my Saturday Night In Frankfurt homies…
Sir Smurf Lil of The Colony hosts the tape and you’ve put out his solo album “MyAlpha” through your YNR imprint. How did you link with him?
Jehst: I first started to notice him on The Colony demo’s from the Champions Of Nature days. Lewis Parker and Apollo were both throwing them beats and I kept catching these crazy images in his verses that no one was really clocking. We first met at Lewis’s and then I approached him about doing an album ‘cos I felt my production could compliment his style.
How would you describe his style?
Jehst: Original. Simple as that!
Do you think there are any particular characteristics that YNR artists share? Is there anything you particularly look for in an artist that makes you want to sign them or work with them?
Jehst: Originality, honesty and creativity. Plus people have got to have their heads screwed on and be prepared to go all out. Artists are always cussing about the state of UK Hip Hop but we’re as much to blame as anyone else!
Amongst several acts you also have signed to the label are Leeds duo Double D Dagger - living in Leeds myself, I feel I should mention them! Can you again just quickly describe their style and how you came across them?
Jehst: I’ve been aware of both Danger and D Bizzy for a while now and Tommy Evans was always planning to bring them through on the label. I got to link one half of Ghost Town through IQ when we were in Leeds and he played us some joints they’d produced for them and I was like ‘Damn!!!” So from that point we got to talking and planned to put out their new EP ‘Packaged Fear’. It’s ridiculous! Its got the energy of a Wu Tang record and a Madlib record combined! That kind of raw collective energy that’s missing from Hip Hop right now. The way they bounce off each other just takes me back to like Organised Konfusion, Leaders Of The New School, Onyx, Das Efx, all that hi-octane type of crew shit you know? Definitely a future classic…
Moving on to the DJ side of things, you seem to have some strong links with DJ IQ, who mixed the CD. What do you feel he brings to the project?
Jehst: He bring his own flavour and obviously he’s a second set of ears when it comes to putting things together. With The Mengi Bus Mixtape we both just brought our skills to the table and compiled it from the 80 plus tunes I had to work with.
You’re primarily known as an MC and obviously do some label/ A&R work as head of YNR but you’ve also done a fair bit of production and remix work. Are there any other areas you’re looking to get into? Or perhaps that you’ve already explored?
Jehst: I want to get back into drawing and painting but it’s something I can never manage to make time for. You might see me designing some record sleeves in the future though! But right now I really want to concentrate on production and re-organising the label. You’ll definitely be seeing a lot more releases from YNR over the next year.
Last but not least… any final words from the High Plains Drifter before we jump off the Mengi Bus?
Jehst: Play your position!