North London can boastfully lay claim to grime pioneers JME and Skepta, the founders of Boy Better Know, Lethal Bizzle, and more recently, MC’s such as Meridian Dan and Capo Lee. Yet the North London rapper arguably getting the biggest online buzz currently has little in common with his predecessors. Jimothy Lacoste, real name Timothy Gonzalez, is a lo-fi bedroom rapper carving out a niche for himself in the London rap scene.
Where grime captures the grit and aggressiveness of life on the street, Jimothy does the opposite. He revels in the mundane, in the difficulty of occupying Summer days, or in not taking drugs. ‘Subway System’, his breakout hit approaching 300k views on YouTube, is an ode to the Underground. He raps, “Businessman, you’re standing too close to the yellow line/ C’mon bro, you’re making me not feel fine/ Plus your bags in front of your legs, you’re out of your mind” – it’s about as uninteresting as a topic can be, and yet, in his deadpan half-rap delivery, it becomes fun. Coupled with the music video that features him dancing down train carriages with bemused onlookers, the song becomes incredibly enjoyable.
The historic magazine Boy’s Own labels the 18-year-old as a revamped Mike Skinner from The Streets, and rightly so. It’s not just that same spoken-word delivery that unites them though, but the parody of rap. In a day and age where the genre, particularly in the US, has become centred more than ever on drug use and money, it’s refreshing to hear lyrics like, “We’ll have mad fun cause we’re always getting paid/ Shopping at Waitrose nearly every day,” and “So get a little hobby, give meaning to, your life/ Then ten to fifteen years you could be a healthy happy wife/ You can’t be doing more drugs than Kate Moss/ That’s how I know you’re heading for a crazy loss“.
Equally, where the Soundcloud generation is making beats ever murkier, it’s refreshing to hear Jimothy’s chirpy, horn-infused, iPad-crafted instrumentals. They’re far lighter and less oppressive than most beats you hear these days, in the spirit of the early days of Chance the Rapper, though with far less finesse.
But for Jimothy, that’s fine. The lack of finesse is all part of the charm. The videos and production are consciously low-budget because he’s about an attitude, a positivity, having the right outlook on life despite the culture holding you back. ‘Subway System’ rightly laments the social awkwardness of Londoners on their daily grind, and ‘Future Bae’ mocks the perfectionist image that apps like Tinder have caused us to create.
As he says on one of his tracks, “Jimothy is blessed, he’s loving his lifestyle/ Riding these lines since young, going mad miles“. With that positivity, may Jimothy Lacoste ride on and on.