JK-47: the Artist with Raps Faster Than the Weapon

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

Photography: Joey Bailey

FROM THE MOMENT I decided to start this community, I knew sooner or later, I’d end up having to talk about JK-47. An indigenous rapper out of Tweeds Head, Australia, JK caught my eye from the first moment I heard his music. He may only be one official project in, but his music oozes of confidence and untapped potential. The industry's currently sitting on the sidelines, but JK may just be the spark the Australian rap game needs to introduce itself to the world.

Some Australians appear ready to crown JK-47 the new king, waiting to take over the open throne left by Nipsey Hussle. Personally, I’m not quite ready to make that comparison; Nipsey’s sound was just too grimy for JK to compete with. In my head, JID is a much closer comp, at least sonically. Maybe not the sound of his voice, but between energy level and song style, that's a safer bet in my book. Just as some JID’s songs are extremely high energy (i.e. Off Deez and 151 Rum), JK’s songs The Recipe and Guess Again are examples of the Aussie showing off his slick spitting skills. And I gotta say, the dude can rap his damn ass off. Some artists are impossible to understand when they try their hand with the quick raps, but JK’s experience is clearly much greater than his discography would suggest. These songs highlight his ability to enunciate easily understood bars at the speed of well, an AK-47, a feat not easily accomplished.

It’s no surprise JID is famous for his mile-a-minute bars, but to be real, the majority of his songs are a lot more lowkey and toned down. Again, JK-47 is the exact same way, but never at the detriment of his skill. Full Speed, Marathon, and Wings display his range at its best. The first finds JK singing (decently enough) on the hook, while the latter has the artist bouncing to the beat, the two creating a mesmerizing flow that subconsciously forces you to bob your head alongside. But the middle song, Marathon? Nah man, that song is fuckin beautiful. Based on the sound and the substance, it’s gotta be my favorite from his debut album. Everything just seems to fall into place on this one. It’s not a happy song by any means, but the bars and the beats equally reflect this. Even down to the chorus, every aspect finds itself in harmony with the next.

Credit: @kiarneybts/Instagram

The one area I really want to see JK-47 improve at is his effort level. Not that he’s giving too little, but that he may actually be giving too much. Keeping the JID comp going, Ladies, Ladies, Ladies is one of the most effortless sounding songs I’ve ever heard. So far, I haven't found a song in JK’s catalog that can come anywhere close to LLL’s level of aloofness. Even TI, who's got a much more aggressive voice, doesn’t let himself get carried away. Toning down the energy, in places where it could be necessary, is one of the next steps I’d love to see JK take.

Sound-wise, JK-47 may find himself in the same ballpark as JID, but stylistically? He’s in his own lane. It’s been real interesting to find rappers from around the world, then compare them to American rappers. In the States, most rappers fill their verses with a certain number of bars, not always having an overarching message in each verse. But globally, I’ve come across a lot more artists who write cohesive verses. Verses that start to finish have a specific point or purpose, almost like each song is made up of two or three short stories. JK is 110% this type of artist. Good with me, I LOVE this style.

So what about the lyrics? I’ll just make this one easy: it’s personal, relatable, gives a voice to the indigenous people of the island, and invites you into the mind of JK-47. He doesn’t mess around by discretely wrapping up his messages in metaphors, but gives you them clearly and concisely. Yes, there may be less left for interpretation, but it makes his music that much more relatable. Add in his tone and inflection, and a real clear picture comes to light: this is an artist in pain over his people’s situation, who wants to use his platform to uplift his community and those in similar situations, dealing with both mental and/or external struggles. Specific details may not always be globally applicable, but the messages certainly are, allowing his music the opportunity to transcend borders. Whether that will happen or not, who the hell knows. What I do know: if JK-47 ever does find his way over to the States, my ass is gonna be front row to see him.

PERSONAL FAVORITES: Abandoned, The Recipe, Full Speed, Marathon (feat. Jennifer Williams), On One (feat. Chiggz, Nate G, & Nerve)

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