Back when R&B singer-songwriter-producer Jhyve was growing up in the mostly minority Toronto suburbs, there was no black radio in the city that became the Six. Now you can’t flip the dial without hearing homegrown from superstars Drake and The Weeknd or second-wavers like Daniel Caesar and Majid Jordan.
With guitar in hand, the 2018 Juno nominee is the latest star emerging from Toronto’s musical firmament thanks to his singular soul-focused sound.
Born Jamaal Desmond Bowry, Jhyve comes by his genre blend honestly. His mother sings in a gospel choir and his father is a former soca and calypso DJ. Jhyve mixed those influences from his Kittitian immigrant parents with late-90s R&B he grew up on and alt-rock from his stoner friends in university. Everything filtered in.
“I wouldn’t have the sound I have today if i didn’t have all these honest prolonged exposures to different types of music,” he says. But while his music is influenced by the past, it sounds cutting-edge. “People confuse paying homage to duplication. There has to be reinvention.”
Jhyve’s latest mixtape Conversations should appeal to fans of boundary-pushing artists like Miguel and SZA. The five-song cycle — which saw the dark and moody track “Human” nominated for a 2018 Juno Award for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year alongside Daniel Caesar and Jessie Reyez — is all about relationships and displays an introspection and vulnerability rarely seen in modern R&B. At least from the guys.
“Men hardly get out of a position of strength and nobility in love songs,” Jhyve says. “We always come at it from receiving the best love ever or being hurt by an ex. It’s very rare that you get more range of emotion. Conversations covers that range.”