Earlier this month, Birmingham MC Jaykae released his EP Where Have You Been?, and since then he’s been pretty much everywhere. Physically, he’s just finished touring Manchester, London and Birmingham- with shows featuring special guests Murkage Dave, Stormzy, Smokes, and Wretch 32 to name a few, and from the footage I’ve seen he seems to have shelled down every show. Virtually I’ve seen snippets of his new tracks- presumably from this EP, all across social media, so I decided it’s about time I sit down and listen to it properly.

The eight track EP is much more versatile than I anticipated; throughout Jaykae continues to show why he’s one of the best MC’s in the country, showcasing a versatile flow across a range of beats but keeping true to his straight-talking raw style on every single one of them. ‘Cuz man are like Jaykae where have you been’ kicks off the first track “Headache”, where we hear his raw account of artist headache and the personal change that’s come from it. ‘’I’ve grown up haven’t you noticed”. The beat-heavy production sets the tone for the rest of the EP, and see’s the rapper reflecting on his ongoing transformation while explaining to fans that alongside creating this fire EP, he’s also been busy taking care of things at home. ‘I’ve got a son now so I’m more protective’.

“Pull Up” is a track which seems to have stood the test of time. Produced by Bowser Boss, the tune was released last year and still bangs, honestly I forgot how good it was. Jaykae serves the up-front grime-edge we know him for and I would have loved to see a live performance of it surface online. I rate this tune highly. Following two energetic cuts, the tempo is slowed down for “Knock Door Run”, which is a great retrospective look at Jaykae’s youth “yeah I grew up on knock door run/ growing up was a lot more fun” and some hardships faced growing up in Birmingham “always getting caught up in some hood politics”/ “man love blue lights you can ask Jorja”.

The 8 track EP is much more versatile than I anticipated; throughout he continues to show why he’s one of the best MC’s in the country

“Moscow” was one of the first singles to be released from Where Have You Been? A great example of his chemistry with Bowser, Jaykae reps Birmingham strongly throughout, and the song’s backed by some pretty slick visuals inspired by the notorious Small Heath Gang from ‘Peaky Blinders’. Knocking up a quick million views on YouTube, this track has given the rapper a lot of viral buzz and abit more of the recognition he rightfully deserves.

The next two tracks are a great one two punch of mellower sounds. Jaykae adds another dimension to the EP with the chilled garage vibe of “Every Country”, and”Let Me Go” has a very comfortable R&B feel to it. While the latter song features TiGa and YAseeN Rosay and isn’t the kind of fare you’d necessarily associate Jaykae with, neither is the Murkage Dave featuring “Every Country” and it’s a personal favourite for me alongside “Pull Up” and “Moscow”. Both tracks are great eye openers for those not familiar with Jaykae’s diversity as an overall artist who’s able to easily flow over different tempos.

“Anyone” see’s the brummie boy team up with S-X for a deep dark tune that explores losing who you are, before we come full circle on internationally known closing track “Toothache”.  We have hit series Power to thank for its notoriety as well as producer Thomas Mella, who provided the instrumental for the opening track as well. All in all Where Have You Been? is an excellent EP that starts and ends in bold fashion, which gives us a more personal look at Jaykae’s hard-hitting upfront style.
Words: Geri Cela