Jimmy Nevis unpacks things we don’t talk about

Jimmy Nevis. Picture: Supplied

Jimmy Nevis. Picture: Supplied

Published Feb 19, 2023


Jimmy Nevis’s ascent into a self-aware and vulnerable pop star has been a sight to behold.

His new album, “Things We Don’t Talk About”, sees Nevis seeking out a bold new vision.

While his music has often been characterised by quirky song writing and humorous catchphrases over his decade-long career, it’s refreshing to hear Nevis taking his boldest risk yet, as he speaks on things that may otherwise be considered taboo and swept under the rug.

“Last year I kind of found myself people-pleasing a lot. I come from a very conservative background, like I think a lot of South Africans do. Most families will have rules, ways, customs, and lots of expectations, and I’m no different.

“I just kind of decided that I’m actually not gonna be a people pleaser anymore and I was gonna put my artistry first. And I’ve seen the impact of what music can do in terms of creating space. I did a song ‘7764’ (in 2014) and I’ll never forget the way it impacted people and the things people would come and tell me.

“It made me feel like there was a bigger purpose to all the stuff that comes along with a music career.

“I think that the title, ‘Things We Don’t Talk About’, came almost at a pushing point where I was gonna put my vulnerability forward, and share some things that I don’t talk about, and hopefully this can create some kind of conversation.”

Nevis wants his fans and people who listen to this music to feel comfortable living deeper in their truth and their authenticity, regardless of what it may be.

It’s a project people can really dig into and unpack. The press note sent to media about the album accurately described it as, “an updated version of the Jimmy Nevis we’ve grown to know and love”

Jimmy Nevis. Picture: Supplied

In the lead-up to the album’s release, Nevis released three songs: “F.B.A”, “Touch Me” and AYO”.

“I call this album my research case study because we’ve been doing everything differently. I launched ‘AYO’, which I guess is what you would call a first single, in November last year.

“We launched it with Fly Safair on the flight 33 000 feet in the air. I told the people in the flight that you’re the first people to hear this and people loved it, it was dope.”

Then in January he had a Jimmy Nevis ice cream truck going around his neighbourhood and other parts of Cape Town. This project is about doing things he’s never done before.

“F.B.A”, which was the most recent single he dropped before the album’s release, has been gaining momentum on TikTok and looks like the money shot.

Like other standouts “Levels” and “FIFA”, “F.B.A” is a song he started writing three years ago.

“They’ve been such a long time in the making, and they kind of got updated into many versions up until what you hear right now. I think ‘F.B.A’ is probably the most Jimmy Nevis song ever.

“It’s quirky, it’s funny, it’s also musically some of my best work as a producer.”

“’Levels’, which is my personal favourite, features young Cape Town-based Zimbabwean rapper Hanna and Kaien Cruz.

“I think the day I saw Hanna I found her on social media, she’s already such a dope artist,” he says.

“She’s ridiculous, her flow is just insane and how she can move from one thing to the next. She came on the track last year and totally elevated it to new heights, new levels.”

Looking back at his journey in the industry over the past decade, Nevis says there’s a feeling of identity that he thinks has just gotten stronger every year.

“It’s quite funny because when I started, literally from my first album, I grew up thinking I just need to get to Los Angeles and have a movie kind of story.”

Then he went to the SAMAs for the first time and learned a lot about what he didn’t know about local music. He then found himself immersing himself in his roots through his music.

“This is something I completely didn’t see coming but I fell in love with it. It’s something I never planned to do. And even now, I find that there’s so much identity and so much of my South African Cape Tonian sound in my records.

“Even having the live band playing on a lot of the tracks is very Cape Tonian in its sound. I think for me when I look back it’s crazy cause I never thought I would be this kind of artist.

“But I’m so glad that I did and that I was able to be schooled and that I I could see just how much gold there is in the country, and that I get to be a part of that.”