The lights in the eatery hang really low. They are like tiny stars appearing during the day – they don’t quite have the same shine, though. In a booth close to me is someone who looks like he could be a star. To paraphrase Rihanna, he’s got his Ray Bans on and he’s clearly feeling hella cool today.
This is Ross Jack, the newest producer-cum-rapper in the game. His debut EP, Chandeliers, is a commercial hip-hop offering that sees him introduce himself to a market that would only know his name if they read the credits for HHP’s hit song, Mpitse.
A producer for the Octave Couplet collective that have produced everyone from HHP to Toya Delazy, Ross (as he prefers to be known) explains the title of his EP: “Just before Chandeliers came out, I had a song that had the line: if we were lights I would be chandelier dope.
Just like there are a lot of people, there are a lot of lights. “But a chandelier is something special in comparison to this light,” he points at the lights in the eatery, “I’m something special.”
Ross is definitely not one to hold his tongue about anything. Quick to insert the word “homie” in just about every sentence, you get a sense that this Benoni-bred producer/rapper who went to high school in Spain and spent some time in England, wants to have a personal connection with his listeners.
For instance, his chart topping single, Seven45, is a debaucherous ditty that many nine-to-fivers who are late for work after a crazy night out do relate to. “I don’t party a lot, homie,” he tells me, “but when I’m out, I can’t be in the club drinking water.”
“Listen homie, living in Spain and being young and free,” he continues, “I could’ve written seven million Seven45s just based on one year of high school. I just love a good party.” But the EP isn’t just about having a good time. Ross raps about love in Back 2 U featuring Lloyd Cele and gets introspective saying he wants to use his music as evangelism in Delusions featuring ChianoSky.
“This EP is a little unlike me in that it’s really a business card with seven singles that cater for every aspect of radio, homie,” says Ross, “it’s quite light and I like to be serious. I’ll get more artistic and conceptual for my album.”
His as-yet-untitled first album, may even feature songs by multi-platinum producer, Pete “Boxsta” Martin (Danny K and Sugababes) since Ross has flown to London to work with him.
It’s easy for Eminem’s name to come up when people talk about Ross but, the latter emphasises that “the white thing irritates me because my flow isn’t blacker and I don’t want people listening to a record and putting me in that box. I’ll never compare myself to any rapper because I’m different.”
A hit-making producer who is now a rapper has a greater chance of not fading to black and we’ll be watching.
• Ross Jack’s EP Chandeliers is in stores.