I’m sure by now you are all too familiar with the tough economic climate around the world. After all, it seems to be making the news everyday. Consider adding that fact to the music industry and the harsh realities faced by musicians in Saint Lucia and you may end up with a headache! But all of this certainly does not deter young and upcoming artiste Jernal Stephen from trying to accomplish his goal of being a successful rapper in Saint Lucia. It may sound clichéd to you, but in his mind he is focused and aiming on being different from the pack.
Jernal, whose performing name is ‘Metafor’, is a 25 year old from Monchy, Gros Islet. He began writing when he was at the Corinth Secondary School and took an interest in music from a very young age.
“I listened to all kinds of music but I always gravitated to rap because I could relate to the story more. I was into writing a lot and I decided maybe I should try to do some serious lyrics. Persons who were close to me thought it was really good and they encouraged me so I really took a liking to it. I took (music) more seriously after graduating from school and started recording with a producer and friend called Hugh ‘Ziggy’ James from Gravity Sounds. In 2010 we recorded 12 tracks, I compiled them and sold them on the street” says Metafor.
“Afterwards I went into producing and I learnt from Ziggy along the way. I started producing my own beats, working with new artists like myself and I recently released my music video, which I directed and edited” he continues.
According to Metafor, he is not new to the music industry. He’s performed on stage alongside recognized Saint Lucian artistes like Zionomi and Crocodile. But that wasn’t just his dream; to write songs and to perform them.
“I had already had some of my performances recorded and when we were filming my music video, I had this idea that I should do a video compilation. I went over to the radio station one time and we had people asking questions and stuff. Afterward I looked at the footage and thought that it was really cool. I said to myself, what if I turn all this into a movie? Because I was inspired by artists like The Game and 50 Cent, who have made documentaries about how they started off in music, their interviews and all that compiled into one movie. I thought I should try it as I was of the opinion that nobody in Saint Lucia had ever did that so I worked my hardest at it. I thought it would make me different and I’d stand out” he explained.
The video released was for the track ‘Within Time’, and behind the scenes footage of it is also in the documentary.
“It’s about social issues in Saint Lucia and about my struggle growing up. The video is already out and playing at the various TV media houses and on Youtube”.
Jernal released his album called ‘Rhyme Overdose’ in August 2013, which was the official launching for his 2010 ‘trial album’. We asked Metafor what was the inspiration behind the name and he explained:
“I played with a lot of words that have their relevant meaning and tell my story of my difficulties growing up. Listening to it you’ll understand what I went through and you’ll be like: that person went through all that? It’s not something exaggerated, but simply my experiences put together kind of like a crossword puzzle. When you listen to it you might think that I’m crazy so that’s where the overdose part came in”.
Metafor says that he doesn’t really have a favorite track on the album.
“I really like ‘As Long As I Can Remember’, which is about my struggles growing up: ‘Work It Out’ about a past relationship: Making It Hot’, ‘Shabin Girl’, (chuckles) I don’t really have a favorite”.
During my interview with Jernal he was very confident about his music and even more enthusiastic about the release of his documentary. He wanted to use his resources to make it as official as possible and he managed to host a documentary event last Friday January 31 at the Ocean View Hotel. When I mentioned to Jernal that the public has long categorized the music produced by young rappers as clichéd and he had this to say:
“Most of my music is based on my struggles, its real life stuff. I don’t have maids and fancy cars; I don’t even have my own place yet, so why should I talk about these things?”