We speak with R&B artist Wesley Jamison who explains that: “Pain and some of those seemingly negative emotions are actually the best inspiration for creativity sometimes.”
Hong Kong is jam-packed with musical talent. From the cult following behind My Little Airport, to the haunting music of Life Was All Silence and of course, who can ignore the shoegaze sensation Thud? But one genre that has been slower to explode on the local scene (despite stalwarts like 24 Herbs) is hip hop/R&B. Things are a changing though, and recently, we sat down with singer Wesley Jamison to find out about his path into music.
Meet Wesley Jamison
My sit-down with Wesley Jamison was the first IRL interview since COVID. Over that year-that-we-shall-not-speak-of, I’d been seeing more and more music pop up over Spotify and landing in my in-box from friends and music people about this guy from Paris who was creating songs they thought I’d be into.
Truth be told, I had already seen some of Jamison’s work with local hip hop collective Xabitat, and my interest was piqued. After he dropped his EP: Going Through It in 2020, I knew that I needed to sit down with the 6-foot something gentle giant to find out more. Besides learning that he is an early-childhood teacher who shies away from the camera, what I also discovered was the deeply empathetic and thoughtful person behind the music.
Engineering his future
After finishing his Masters Degree in Engineering, Wesley Jamison was on the hunt for jobs in Paris. A friend was talking about moving abroad, so he jumped on that opportunity and left for Hong Kong with no real plan.
Growing up, his mother made a living as a singer, and had imparted on him the importance of a formal education. But those musical genes couldn’t be suppressed, and it wasn’t long after landing in HK that he started to meet people producing and making hip hop.
“Music wasn’t even on my mind when I came to Hong Kong, but then I met Kemikal Kris (@kemikalkris) from Xabitat, and he needed someone for a hook, and I was like: yeah, I can try, and it worked,” he explains.
It did more than work.
Transforming into a musician
Influenced by 90s R&B stalwarts like Boyz II Men and Ginuwine, the genre had long been in Jamison’s blood. Though his original foray into the local music scene broke with more rap stylings (and blonde dreads), it’s clear that he is mos def a singer.
Jamison explains: “I like hip hop music in general, and when I first started writing stuff, it was naturally kind of rappish. I don’t know why. But I actually always wanted to sing more than rap. So now I’m really working on using my voice more with slower jams.”
Going Through It
Released in 2020, Going Through It is the name of the artist’s first EP, am homage to family, the year of COVID, loss, and–to an extent–Hong Kong. The title track blends keys with heartfelt lyrics about the recent loss of his cousin. His ability to open up about such topics is both refreshing and inspirational.
“I’d been working on the EP for a long time. Some of the parts of different songs had been around for a really long time. My cousin passed at the end of 2019, then it was the start of COVID. Then, I lost my Granddad at the start of 2020, and I was just thinking you know: I’m really going through some shit; I’m really going through it.
“I really liked the idea of talking about the process of going through it. It’s not always lows. Somedays, I’m really happy and feeling positive, and then all of a sudden it’s like boom – I go back to thinking about him. It’s a real process. And I think the concept of ‘going through it’, especially in 2020/2021, it really speaks to a lot of people. Even if you don’t relate to anything else that I’m talking about, we all went through it last year; we’re still going through it right now.”
Each track has a slightly different vibe, yet the entire EP blends together into wonderful 26ish minutes of lyrical contemplation and musicality. Time Zone will hit right for anyone separated from loved ones or loves, while Magnetism of Hades is slightly darker and with a bit more of an electronic influence. And we definitely can’t ignore his most-streamed track: Rona Freestyle.
“I had a plan about what I wanted to drop in 2020. But then like, with COVID, I was seeing videos go viral about it, so I just thought: let me just try to do something. I found a beat, and I wrote Rona Freestyle in just two hours. Then, the week after I filmed the video, and it ended up being a lot better than I thought it would be. Sometimes, you just need to push yourself.”
He’s opened at Clockenflap, got the crowd at Gypsy Land Festival in Bali jumping, and is going from strength to strength as an artist. So what’s next for the French fella who calls Hong Kong home?
“Definitely people are getting more into the hip hop/R&B genres. There’s a big Cantonese scene developing, which is exciting, and I really like the idea of growing with the scene. I want to start working more with a team. 99% of the time, I create at home alone, and you can feel like you plateau when you work like that because nobody pushes you. I guess, the ultimate goal is a full-time career in music. But right now, the goal is to create what I want; to create music that I like and that people like to listen to.”