South London’s JonnoAQ kicks off 2020 with 7 track EP F.E.A.R.
F.E.A.R is the debut EP from Peckham’s latest hot prospect JonnoAQ, who has previously described himself as “SE15’s best kept secret”. Based on this project alone he’s not wrong but also won’t stay a secret for much longer. The title F.E.A.R is an acronym for ‘Face Everything And Recover’ which is a powerful message to have behind a debut project and fitting of a new year drop. The project mirrors this thematically and the ‘Dark Times Skit’ hits it perfectly. Whilst only seven tracks long the project has surprising depth, especially considering one of those seven tracks is a skit. He has also dropped the visuals to ‘Headlock’ which you can view below.
Sonically F.E.A.R is not any single sound. It has moments where the production feels Travis Scott-esque, at other moments it feels like late 2000’s road rap, and that’s just the easily definable sounds. The producers on this project deserve high praise indeed as they set the tone in a way that allows JonnoAQ to shine. Despite the production of each track not always being from the same cloth, there is something in each that screams of the UK sound which keeps it all cohesive.
The core of the cohesion is, of course, JonnoAQ himself. He has a slight spin in his narrative, it’s both gritty and close to the streets but at the same time very open in self-reflection at the same time. It creates a balance that feels inclusive without it being forced. The narrative across F.E.A.R feels believable despite some of the more raw images it draws on and it does so in a way that feels accessible. A street rap purist could enjoy this and at the same time the most casual of rap fans could equally appreciate it. That’s a difficult outcome to produce, especially on a first project from a relatively new artist.
For me, the standout track was ‘An Interlude That Isn’t’, from the very first listen of the project it was the track that grabbed my attention the most. It is probably the most personal record on F.E.A.R, but it’s that openness delivered so well that makes it great. Paired with a great piano melody and production it’s an extremely well rounded track, and very easily likeable. I think it’s the piano melody that is key as to why it stands out. ‘An Interlude That Isn’t’ feels like that moment in a film where the clouds part and the sun shines through on the protagonist. It is very much the moment on the project that breaks through the otherwise darker feeling production, it is the moment of calm amidst the storm.
All in all F.E.A.R shows that JonnoAQ‘s statement about himself being a best kept secret isn’t wrong by any means. It also shows the abundant talent and promise he has as an artist. It is a great way to kick off the year and we can’t wait to see what’s to come from him for the rest of the year and beyond.