East End producer Rockboi turns his hand to being a rapper


Rockboi - Credit: Archant

Having remixed everyone from Amy Winehouse to Justin Timberlake, producer Jamie Mckenzie, aka Rockboi, has a truckload of musical credits to his name.

With a CV boasting collaborations with legendary British artists like Ed Sheeran, and being older brother to musician Labirinth and DJ MckNasty, Rockboi is already a respected figure in the urban music scene.

Now, however, he is swapping the sequencer for the microphone with his new track, I Do This, hoping to take the industry by storm as a performing artist.

Rockboi said: “I would say my music is heavy, in your face, technical – it’s just rebel music. I’m inspired mainly by producers, people like Dr Dre, I love their mixes, and for the old school I love Quincy Jones.

“I think with the new you always have to add the old, just like when you buy a house and it’s got period features – you don’t get rid of them you add to them.”

The shift from producing to performing has been smooth for Rockboi, of Clapton, who still has the same approach to making music.

He cites different types of music as being a wealth of inspiration, explaining the importance of flexibility as an artist. “There is no point in just concentrating on urban music because if urban takes a fall for the worst, as genres can do sometimes, you’re out of the game. As a music lover I am into a whole load of different styles. You might hear me listen to jazz or classical – I get something out of all of them,” he said.

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Rockboi, 31, added that developing his sound came with hard graft, years of locking himself away, listening and learning, to find his identity. Coming from a family of nine talented siblings, this seems the best way to find a distinct sound. “It was a bit noisy at times; mum would be pulling her hair out. Everyone bounced off of everyone,” he said.

As well as an upcoming mixtape later this month, Rockboi plans to use his music for social change. He said: “I have an independent label and I would love to see the artists we have under us flourish, in the future. I am big on charity I would love to start bringing in new people that haven’t got the chance to come through, especially in Hackney. I want to use my music to make a difference.”

The producer’s current work is the latest in a series of creative action from the borough, which has quickly become a hotbed of musical ability. Rockboi said: “Growing up in Hackney was exciting and just different. I loved my childhood. It definitely inspired me 110 per cent, because there has always been a lot of talent in east London, especially Hackney, but because of the negative press it got nobody really had a chance before now.”

He continued: “I think we got the last laugh, in the sense that we were so frustrated with not coming through the door it gave us more vibrancy and the determination to take the game by the neck.”