The Young Rapper Making Waves in the Local Hip-Hop Scene

Jess Bourke, aka JessB, is a young rapper from central Auckland. Her debut EP, produced by P-Money, is set to be released this year


Young rapper JessB takes inspo from old-school hip-hop to more recent stuff. Picture / Babiche Martens

When and why did you start writing music?
I started writing raps for my friends in high school. They were well received and then I went on to eventually begin writing actual songs and uploading them to Soundcloud.

For those who haven’t heard it, how would you describe your music?
For the most part, as high energy and exuberant.

I don’t like to put my sound into one box, but I love groovy tempos and beats that allow my voice to bounce and vibe within them.

I take inspo from all sorts of sounds from old-school hip-hop to more recent stuff, and I add my own spin to it.

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What’s it like being a young rapper in New Zealand?
I think at the moment it is an exciting time. I am surrounded by some amazingly talented peers — we are the beginning of the new creative wave that New Zealand has to offer the world.

How do you feel when you’re performing?
Alive. Inspired.

What sort of impact do you hope you have on your audiences? What are some themes or messages you’ve explored in your music?
I hope that I can be someone who is inspirational to people and brings a different perspective and something fresh and unique to the music scene.

I’ve explored lots of different themes in my music but one that will always run through the veins of my songs is that of female empowerment.

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I am all about uplifting and supporting women of all walks of life. This includes the amazing women around and if I can reach beyond my own circles through music that would be amazing.

With the platform I have (and hope to continue to build) I recognise my responsibility and passion as a woman, especially as a woman of colour, to be a voice and create space for other woman to be empowered and succeed in any way they wish to do so.

Young rapper from central Auckland JessB. Picture / Babiche Martens

Who, or what, inspires you?
I am inspired by people who are unapologetic about changing and shining in spaces where they don’t necessarily fit. Challenging the norm can be unnerving at times so I am forever inspired by people who are brave enough to just be themselves, both creatively and in everyday life.

I believe that in many ways you are a mirror to those you choose to surround yourself with. I am inspired by my friends and family every day. We hold each other up and support each other in all the different areas we are passionate about, and they inspire me to go get mine!

What are your goals for the next year or two?
I would really like to solidify my space and name within NZ music. I really hope to travel overseas and tour and play at music festivals around the world.

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Right now I’m …
Listening to: Lil Simz, Nadia Rose, Leikeli47, Princess Nokia, Goldlink
Watching: Some weird YouTube video that I can’t remember how I got to. Lol.
Reading: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur.
Enjoying: The journey . . .
Looking forward to: Summer.

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