Monroe Joe is a realist. An artist who is looking to capture the essence of everyday life in his music. But don't let the simplicity of the subject matter fool you. He approaches his work with a quiet optimism as he raps on Ease The Pain: "Just to be clear, I think I'll see you at the Brits next year." And on Their Eyes, the lead single from his latest EP: Music On The Side, he raps: "I must say, I made some bad decisions, fam I'm talking bad like Rangers in the first division." Here, you get a taste of his slick delivery. We're lucky to have had a chance to speak to him as we're sure he's set to have an exciting 2018. When listening to the EP, one thing is for sure: wherever music takes him, just know he's doing it for the right reasons.
So, what’s the story of Monroe Joe?
When I was about 22, my boys got a studio and I used to go there to chill and mess about. One day I heard my guy L Martin saying how he found some sick beats on Youtube, so I took it upon myself to find some that I liked and started writing to them. I took what I wrote with the beat to the studio with my guy Den Geez and laid it down; everyone was vibzing and I got mad love from from the lads for it! It was a track called ‘The Truth’ which was over an old Joey Bada$$ instrumental; I sat on it for about a year before I decided to take the plunge and release it in early 2016. Since then I’ve taken it a bit more seriously; I got the opportunity to release my first real release ‘Flowers On Her Birthday’ on SB.TV last year and the reaction I gained from that changed my perspective on what I want to gain from the music. This year I’ve released two visuals and my new EP, and done numerous shows around London (whilst balancing a shift working job) - It ain’t been easy but we find ourselves here now. Just about still standing...
Their Eyes, the first single from your new EP: Money On The Side was premiered on Complex UK earlier this year; how did it feel to have such a huge platform supporting your music?
It was wicked, I literally sent out a few emails on a whim to some of the big blogs being quite blunt. It was something along the lines of 'I've got this really good video, I'd be honoured if you were to blog or premiere it, and if you don't fancy it, don't worry' haha. Then when I got the email back from Joseph Patterson I couldn't believe it, so shout out him as he showed some real faith in me to stick it on such a big platform so I'm really grateful for that!
Your EP has a relatable feel to it as you delve into the realities of life as an artist in London, tell us about your mindset when putting songs together for it.
My mindset was let's bring the reality to life. I don't hear a lot of UK artists bringing normality and reality into the limelight, there's nothing wrong with leading normal lives and we need to embrace all the good things that come from it. You don’t need loads of money or flashy stuff to enjoy yourself. Love, laughs and good friends are what a lot of us take for granted and that kinda relatable stuff needs to be celebrated more in music, in my opinion. Of course we have our bad days, but the foundations of happiness start with these basic things.
How have you found living in London as a creative?
I love my town there's no other place like it; I’m London through and through. But, being an artist in London has its ups and downs for sure! The fact live music events are so readily available to me as an artist is wicked! But then again there are so many artists in London that it can be hard to get noticed or stand out from the crowd. But it is inspiring, all I've gotta do is look around me on the way to work and I’m inspired, the streets of London are really magical if you look close enough, trust me.
Now back to your EP, which track do you feel is your favourite?
Thats a tough one! But I’ve gotta say ‘Love’ I was in a great place when I made it and every time I listen to it I’m taken back to happiness. Plus it always gets heads bobbing wherever I perform it!
Who do you look up to for inspiration, music-wise?
I have to say for me, it comes close to home. My team: TooRareToDie never fail to inspire me. I can take it from each one for different reasons: L Martin has pushed me to write some of my best verses ever trying to keep up with his lyricism, Stash's songwriting ability is one of a kind, Casscade's hunger, work rate and consistency of bangers is second to none, and Maine’s sheer, undeniable raw talent, musical ear and energy has been a major part of my musical journey. So big up all of them.
Which British artists are you currently listening to?
Hands down the best rapper in the UK is Wretch 32, (always has been), his new project FR32 is on repeat on my Spotify at the moment. A2’ also has the best Soundcloud listening from start to finish; I’ve never skipped a track, and finally my guys The Manor, been following them from the start of their journey. I saw them live at KoKo last year and it's great to see them getting the recognition they deserve finally!
What can we expect from you in 2018?
More of the same, Vibes. Haha, Nah I’m working on my new project already, concentrating on my singing a bit more as well! And working with some dope artists and producers to take the music to the best level.
What does success mean to you?
Success for me, is happiness. Money will come and go, but if I’m happy, and I’ve got my family and friends around me and they’re happy then I’m as successful as I could wish to be.
If 2017 has been a foundational year for Monroe Joe, we can't wait to see where things are this time next year. Check out his socials and EP below: