Jehst – The Dragon of an Ordinary Family

written by: July 26, 2011
Release Date: June 27, 2011


The Dragon of an Ordinary Family has been a highly anticipated release. Maybe because of the hype or maybe because it is just that great, this album will come to play a pivotal role in UK hip-hop; a scene that left off with Tinie Tempah somewhat making it in the United States. Now there’s a struggle to define itself, a domestic movement that, while hugely a derivative of their American forebearers, wants to stand on its own feet.

Jehst, alias of William G. Shields, was raised upper middle-class in the suburbs of Kent and attended the London School of Economics before dropping out to pursue a record deal. Rap may be a second language to him, and it’s a damn good one for someone with so many cutting critiques of society and blessed with the voice of the everyman. He helped found his label, Young N Restless Records and set about his course for dominating the airwaves.

Unlike other subsistent sub-genres which have emerged in Britain (grime, two-step, urban, garage, dub), Jehst carries a classic, classic hip-hop sound, which these days means throwback. Fittingly enough, Shields was previously a graffiti artist worth noting and legend has it his tags still adorn storefronts and alleyways in West End London. His sound smacks of turntables, boomboxes, graffiti and breakdancing—all hip-hop standbys for a reason. He resembled Devin the Dude over his contemporaries and like the Dude, TDOAOF is laced with a healthy dose of stoner chill. Only Jehst’s not content to sit around idly, there’s urgency in his voice that’s angry—sharply enunciated delivery with passion.

Though it is his first album on his own label, it sounds urgent enough to be his last testament.

Jehst is an outspoken rhymester, with wit and punch to boot; he only hopes not to be. The Dragon of An Ordinary Family is a full-blown attempt at legend. There is a fire and brimstone feel to his spitting—only it never reaches a pitch of preachiness that sounds patronizing. It is hard-hitting and a big part of his problem, besides himself, is the scene, “There’s no such thing as a rap artist,” he says on “True Intention,” stressing the word ‘artist’ “It’s all bullshit/White boys blacken up/Running out drugs and b-boys cracking up/This can’t be my beautiful culture.”

It’s material that comes from a desolate place, geographically and in the artist’s own heart. Jehst touts a smooth but mellow voice and when he lays down bars it can become almost ambient on the ears—part of the chill vibe. His lyricism goes from lovingly self-deprecatory to his own biggest fan. It’s a performance worth noting, even if it isn’t the last.

Jehst The Dragon of an Ordinary Family Tracklist:

  1. “True Intention”
  2. “Killer Instinct”
  3. “Zombies”
  4. “Thinking Crazy”
  5. “England”
  6. “Camberwell Carrots”
  7. “Starting Over”
  8. “Old No. 7”
  9. “The Illest”
  10. “Sounds Like Money”
  11. “Back To The Drawing Board”
  12. “Poison”
  13. “Interlude”
  14. “Tears In The Rain”
  15. “Timeless”
  16. “Two Point Four (The Dragon Of An Ordinary Family)”