Bringin’ It Backwards: Interview with Runkus

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Together with American Songwriter, we had the pleasure of interviewing Runkus over Zoom video! 

Jamaica’s ​RUNKUS​ takes listeners into his world on the new album ​IN:SIDE, ​​an immersive meditation on life, love and technology in the age of quarantines and lockdowns. The 10-track LP, which features appearances from ​Tarrus Riley​, ​Naomi Cowan​, ​Royal Blu​, Jesse Royal​, ​Kabaka Pyramid ​and ​Munga Honorable​, hits streaming platforms today via L.A. record label ​Delicious Vinyl Island​ and the artist’s own ​Runkus Music​ imprint.

Blending the cultural gravitas of roots reggae and dancehall with the energy of trap and the intricate wordplay of classic hip-hop, ​Runkus ​is known for making music with a global, yet unmistakably Jamaican, perspective. When a 24-hour lockdown was imposed on his hometown of Portmore in April—with no one allowed to leave or enter— he hunkered down to create the most provocative and challenging work of his career, recording a new song each day. “It was one of those apocalyptic moments in life,” the artist says of the frantic paranoia that enveloped his community during the shutdown. “Youknow when you watch a movie and you see everybody just fret? It was really like that. My thing was fightor flight: Would I panic too, stress and get depressed? Or make music?”IN:SIDE ​captures this moment, reflecting the anxieties of life in the age of isolation, along with the hopeful promise of a better future. “TAN A YUH YAAD” (Which takes its title from the Jamaican slang phrase used by Prime Minister Andrew Holness during the Portmore lockdown) and “THE MASK:2ND WAVE” explores the realities of this new world, creating a timely soundtrack for these unprecedented times. With “5Gs,” selected as one of the best reggae/dancehall singles of 2020 by and Pandora, Ruckus aligns with top Jamaican lyricists Jesse Royal, Kabaka Pyramid, Royal Blu and Munga Honorableto deliver a blistering commentary on technology and the spread of information. “EVERYBODY GOINGLIVE” (featuring Naomi Cowan) and “QUARANTINE SLIDE” engage themes of escapism, commenting on topics like social media obsession and interrupted love, while Jamaican music great Tarrus Riley joinsRunkus on the jazzy, soulful closing track “MAKE IT BREATHE”. IN:SIDE​ is supported by ​IN:SIDE​​ Portmore, ​a mini-doc filmed during the project’s recording, as well as videos for ​“$$$”​, ​“5Gs”​ and ​“QUARANTINE SLIDE”​.

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