Photography: Eamonn Freel
Styling: Luci Ellis
Jimothy Lacoste is blessed, and he wants you to feel blessed too. In fact, he wants everyone to feel happier. He wants everyone to stop taking Xanax. He wants people to come outside during the summer. He wants everyone to feel less insecure and underconfident. But most importantly, Jimothy wants everyone to enjoy his strange and endearing lo-fi rap songs. Not just everyone in the UK, but all the kids across the world.
When I first encountered the London artist (age withheld, probably in his teens), I thought he was an elaborate joke. In my defence, much of what he does presents itself as comedy. In his music videos, he freestyle dances in a strange and rhythmic manner, climbs on top of double decker buses, and hangs perilously on the ends of trains to get free rides. He recently penned a viral love song to the London Underground called Subway System, and often fills his lyrics with motivational self-help messages about drinking water, avoiding drugs and creating a stable financial situation.
But I also couldn’t stop looking; there’s something strangely addictive and serene about his thrown-together universe, and something very pure about his whimsical teen rebel vibe. Over the last year, his songs have garnered him a devoted following, including a fairly popular meme account dedicated just to him.
Jimothy doesn’t like that people think his music is a joke – it pisses him off, frankly. To Jimothy, the way he raps and acts is just him being a teenager. If older people like me find that funny, cool, but it was never intended to be. “Dancing on top of things, train surfing and having old ladies in my videos might seem silly, but that is just me being me,” he tells me over two glasses of water at a cafe in Hoxton, east London. He’s wearing a yellow Lacoste jumper with the collar of a blue stripe shirt peeking out. “A lot of my music is actually quite deep,” he says.
Really? I thought. One of the lyrics I’ve always found funniest is from Summer is Long in which he raps, “Spain is cool/ everyone has a nice dad/ unlike London City/ everyone’s stressed and sad”. It’s funny because it’s true: those chain-wearing bronze dads, lean but big all at once, reassuringly hairy, watermelon in hand, reclining on the beach as they watch their kids play 200 yards away with the ice cool calm of a sniper. But then, in an interview on NTS, Jimothy talked candidly about growing up without a father. Suddenly, the lyric did seem very deep and poignant.
Jimothy puts the way he thinks about things down to his “high consciousness”. As a kid he suffered from dyslexia and dyscalculia and was sent to what he describes as “a school for children with additional needs”. As the years went on, the school became progressively more geared towards children with quite serious disabilities. He wasn’t able to transfer to a different one, and became quite lonely. Teachers would speak to him as if he wasn’t intelligent.
T-Shirt: JW Anderson x Uniqlo
Jacket: Paul & Shark
“I wasn’t a social media kid at all,” he tells me. “I didn’t have Instagram, Facebook or Snapchat. So, I began being alone in my thoughts, and alone with me all the time. I was talking to my consciousness everyday without me realising. Then I started waking up in life, you know?”
He wrote and produced his first proper song in college using an iPad app, despite having no musical experience. He had just overcome a bout of depression, and really felt like he’d found himself. Inspiration was coursing through his veins, so he took his phone out and started thumbing in lyrics.
“Yes, I’m feeling quite blessed, yes yes, not depressed,” he wrote. But he was almost too inspired: thoughts pinged around his brain like Coco Pops in a zorb. “Please don’t call my girl a hoe, don’t make me hit you with my elbow” he wrote. "I hope I don’t sniff cocaine/ don’t really really wanna go insane” – that’s another. Every little thought that wandered into his mind went down. He made an instrumental on his iPad, added some Kraftwerky synths, and called the song, “TIMMY” (his real name is Timothy Gonzales). When he showed his friends, “They freaked out,” he says, “I was like, you know what? I love doing music.”
Somewhere around this time, he read a book. It’s the only book he has ever read in his life, and he’s read it 13 times. But whenever he tells people about this book they say, “Fuck that book, man!”
“What is the book called?” I ask.
He looks at me as if he’s not sure he wants to say, but then opens his mouth. “How To Be a 3% Man,” he says. The full title is How to Be a 3% Man: Winning the Heart of the Woman of Your Dreams. “But it's not about picking up women, it's nothing like that at all,” he says, clocking my surprise.
Shirt: JW Anderson x Uniqlo
According to Jimothy, the book helped him overcome shyness and insecurity. It taught him to chase his dreams, break down walls and not to let other people tell him what to do. Jimothy thinks that if more people read this book, then marriages would prosper, the idea of divorcing wouldn’t exist, and people would feel better about themselves. He says he wouldn’t be where he is today without it.
And so ends my sermon with the blessed boy, Jimothy. When I ask him what’s coming next, he retorts “me being me”. He smiles mysteriously, before his publicist punctures the dramatic pause to inform me that actually there will be a new single called Spanish coming out, probably towards the end of May.
“Yeah,” says Jimothy, adjusting his square frame glasses, “but the one thing you should never do is expect anything from me, because when you expect from an artist you are only ever going to be disappointed. Don’t expect. Be open minded. Let’s just see what happens next.”
Jimothy Lacoste appears at Field Day, London, 1–2 June