Juakali – Foreign Familiar


ff03-art-300A few months after I moved to Los Angeles from Toronto, our good friends at SMOG LA threw one of the most memorable nights that I have had out here. Headlining the night was Dub War NYC front men Joe Nice, Dave Q alongside MC Juakali. Well needless to say that at the time I was a dubstep novice, but I was absolutely blown away.

The following night, I found myself in a car with Juakali on the way home from Bluebeat and as if his presence on the mic wasn’t enough, he was one of the nicest people I have met in music in a really long time. Just genuine positive energy, so I made it a point to keep in touch.

He has just announced the completion of his second studio album. Due for commercial release by Foreign Familiar on March 27, 2009, the album ‘Come From Yard’ solidifies Juakali as the bridge between a new aesthetic in electronic music; one that includes reggae, dancehall, dubstep, and Bhangra.

“My work is the genesis of combined experiences. I am from Trinidad and Trinidad lives in me. But, living in the US and having the opportunity to travel the world means being exposed to a variety of styles and genres. These are the circumstances, which influenced ‘Come From Yard’”. said Juakali.

The (4) four original songs on Come From Yard include an additional four remixes featuring the production styling’s of prior collaborators Kush Arora and Matty G, along with co-resident, Dub War honcho Dave Q among others. The stand-alone track ‘Nah Understand’ features the dub-step production of Toronto’s XI and already has DJs and blogs talking.


I hit him up recently to find out what was on the block and he was happy to shed a little light on the past, present and future of Juakali.

MC: Prior to electronic music, were you MC’ing dancehall, soca or any other style?

Prior to electronic music, I wasn’t an MC, as in; I wasn’t on the mic rocking with a DJ. I was performing with a poetry group called Second2Last. We released two albums on our own label and performed in some of the best live venues on the East coast including Sounds Of Brazil (SOBs) and Joe’s Pub.

MC: How did you get involved w/ Dubstep, Dub War and Sub Swara?

Well, I was disillusioned by what was happening with Hip Hop and Spoken Word in NYC. I had been involved in the underground scene there since around ’96 with the more professional years beginning ’98 until ’04 (The Wetlands Years). I got lost in it really, didn’t know why I was writing and performing. The goals of the group I was in at the time changed. It went from rocking out and having fun to searching for management and chasing promoters for a few dollars after our shows. So, I went from that to re-discovering my voice as a solo artist. I began asking questions like, Who am I? How do I want to live? What do I want to do? I had not asked myself those questions in years. After I had some ideas, I went on to ask, How am I going to realistically make any of this possible? That’s when I did a demo and researched what was happening globally with music that featured or sampled Caribbean vocals. From there I made a list of all the active sites, labels and producers… approximately 500 contacts. I sent them all my demo. A handful responded and one of those people was Dave Q who at the time was starting a dubstep party in Brooklyn, New York. He invited me to the first night to check it out and possibly host. That was ’05.

Another contact from the responders was Kush Arora. I dug what he was doing and asked if he was interested in producing a remix to a tune I had. That tune was ‘2 Finga’. I then booked him to play Dub War at Rothko. That was Spring ’06. The day of the party, we got word that the club got shut down for fire code violations. All day Dave and I scrambled to have an alternative venue and with the help of Cliff DJ Seoul – Direct Drive we secured The Chapel @ Avalon. Needless to say, Kush and a few other DJs didn’t get to play that night because we had to cut the line-up in half, but they brought Dhruva (Sub Swara) to the dance and I got booked to host the next Sub Swara party and there-after asked to be a resident.

Juakali – Revolution Now on Vimeo.

MC: What is Foreign Familiar all about?

Foreign Familiar is a little label I started with the help of a few friends. It came about after my Winter ’07-’08 tour. People were constantly asking me where to buy my music and when I was going to make an album by folks like Pinch, Sam (State of Bengal), Hatcha, Nasha (DJ Nahsa – India). It’s about getting my work out there really, but also developing my sound under one project versus the several features I enjoyed on different project.

MC: What’s coming up for you?

The second release on Foreign Familiar, Come From Yard, the second video off Breakground (Deliver Dub) and some festival touring stateside with Dub War, Kush and Sub Swara. This Fall, I will focus on my own featured performances in the US and Europe, possibly a spotlight tour.

Juakali has come to Media Contender to offer an exclusive download of his latest track titled Hear Them Say. Usually we offer up to the massive a finished tune but, in this case, we are putting up the acapella with a call out to all producers. Dubstep, house, drum & bass, electro, whatever. Have at it!

MC: What is this acapella all about?

I want to offer my lyrics to producers who are on the come up. I know its hard to get a hold of folks or even be taken seriously at times, so this is a way for like-minded artists to get some free work off me. On the first release, (Breakground) I offered the acapella for Deliver Dub (I haven’t heard any remixes yet). On this release I had a hard time deciding what to offer, I opted for Hear Them Say, which I believe, is reflective of the collective consciousness of some people in these times.

**ATTN. PRODUCERS!** Grab the accapella below and make a riddim!! If you use this vocal for a tune, please email it to remixes@mediacontender.com. The top rated remixes will be featured on Media Contender and we might even make a release out of it!

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Click here to Download Juakali “Hear Them Say (acapella)” .WAV Stem
(Stream & Download Courtesy of Media Contender)

Juakali has also sent us a collaborative tune by Kush Arora featuring his own vocals. Check it.

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Download Kush Arora Ft. Juakali – “2 Finga”
(Stream & Download Courtesy of Media Contender)

Website: Juakali Myspace, Foreign Familiar


2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kanoa // Mar 19, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Jua rocks. You can hear what he has to say, and he actually has content that is of substance, and is thought provoking. He is laid back, yet assertive, and direct. Boh!!

    Much love!


  • 2 XI - Toronto Dubstep in Town // Jun 11, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    […] at SMOG Sessions starring alongside Dub War icon Joe Nice, past Media Contender featured artist, Juakali, San Francisco’s The Spit Brothers, Smog resident DLX and the host with the most, […]

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