Groovy Jo (born Joan Nyabaro) is a rapper, singer, and songwriter whose sound combines trap, hip-hop, drill, Afrobeats, Ragga, and Afropop.
The 24-year-old was on the Homeboyz Jumpman Freshman List and nominated for Best Female Artist in the 2019 Unkut Awards.
What’s your background? What got you into rap music?
I started rapping back in high school after I joined the choir when I was in form one. Later, I connected with two other girls who were my friends at that time and we just started writing raps and entertaining our classmates – that’s back in 2012. I started it professionally in 2018. Rap was my escape from everything. I grew up very quiet, didn’t talk that much and rap was a way I could express myself in a way just speaking couldn’t.
How long has music been part of your life?
My whole life, honestly. I grew up listening to Madonna, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Michael Jackson was my dads’ favourite artiste. My older sister got me into rap. She would rap Tupac, Jay-Z, Eve and all the artistes who were popping at that time and I was just always in awe because I didn’t understand what she was saying but it’s just how she delivered it that made me want to do this.
How would you describe your musical style?
I think I pick up a little bit of everything from what you hear from me. You could easily tell my musical influences: Kanye, Nicki, STL and Tyler, the Creator. I call my type of rap edgy hip hop and trap. I also try to push the boundaries lyrically.
What is the first album you ever owned? How did you acquire it?
The first album I ever owned was downloaded. Does that count? (Laughs). Anyway, it was 808s and Heartbreak. I think it was the first ever tape that I ever downloaded and listened to because I never really listened to tapes and albums that started way earlier.
How did the name Groovy Jo come about?
I used to call myself Groove. But it really came from one of the first songs I recorded. I just mentioned it and it stuck. I was so hesitant on changing it but it just fit my brand and it had a piece of my real name in it so I went for it.
What are three things you look for when you see an artist play live?
Band, stage presence and the way the artist interacts with the fans. I love Chris Brown, Tyler, the Creator and Tory Lanez as performers. I feel like they are the most creative. They tick everything for me.
What’s a song you have stuck in your head these days?
Kendrick Lamar’s N95 and Rich Spirit are in deep. There’s just something about Kendrick that has his music stuck in your head can’t really explain it. I also love Pradadabang by IDK featuring Young Thug.
Where do you find your artistic inspiration?
From everything around me – my parents, friends and my favourite artistes who are Kanye West, Tyler, the Creator, Kendrick, IDK, Nicki Minaj, Doja Cat, just to name a few. They inspire my craft, my articulation and my delivery.
Who’s your fashion icon and why?
They change a lot, but my favourite at the moment is Teyana Taylor. She sure can dress. She’s always looking good and I feel like I lean more towards her type of fashion.
Give us an insider tip on what bands or artistes are about to break.
Now, I don’t know about that honestly but speaking of – when are Just A Band dropping? I heard they are reuniting, so that’s exciting.
What should we expect from your upcoming album Groovy Way Deluxe?
New sound, a fresh outlook on everything, heavy bars and a different side to Groovy you never thought you needed.
What does your daily routine look like?
Recently it’s been working out, going to the studio, meeting up with a few people, getting work done then back home, and repeat. My life is super boring. (Laughs). The studio is the most exciting thing for me.
In what way do you aim to make a difference?
I want anyone who ever felt inadequate in themselves and who felt like they never got to be heard can take back their lives and change it for the better like I did. I grew up feeling so small and not really knowing where I fit in when all I had to do was stand out. Once I discovered this, I became unstoppable. That’s why I aspire to inspire those who don’t know where they fit.