After making a name for himself by forming the Midnight Society collective along with British producer the Virus And Antidote in 2015, Kamiyada+, aka Jovani Duncan, has found his stride working on his solo career. His stage name embraces the values he personifies and matches his sound and aesthetic like a glove. Above all else, he knows he wants to leave a legacy behind through his artistry. As ambitious as that is for an emerging artist, he has the mentality to make it happen.
“Kami means God in Japanese, and Yada in Hebrew was to be spiritual, so it all comes together,” Duncan says. “As far as where I am in my life now, even adding the plus [sign] to my name, there’s always a push for progression and keeping the wheels turning on things at all times.”
The tones throughout The Metal In Me are equally inspired by Alice In Chains and Kanye West, culminating in a unique sound that challenges listeners to think beyond the boundaries of hip-hop. Coming from a Panamanian family who mostly listened to reggae or salsa artists, Duncan also cites dancehall artist Buju Banton as one of the figures who shaped who he is as a musician. This vast range of inspirations creates a musical environment where limitations don’t exist, and Duncan can be free to explore any sound he wants.
After discovering hip-hop in his youth, Duncan found a type of music he could more closely relate to and delved into creating his own world. Now finding his way through the horrorcore rap scene, he’s crafted a unique, multidimensional world through story-driven music, videos and more while staying true to the experiences that shaped him. Alternative Press spoke with Duncan about what he hopes to accomplish through his music, the creative process that led to The Metal In Me EP and how his upbringing has shaped his complex sound.
Your music truly embraces the idea of being limitless and not focusing on boundaries. Why do you feel this is the best way for you to make music?
A lot of that is fueled by all my past experiences. I’m 25 now, and I’ve been doing this for about three to four years, but I’ve seen so much, I’ve done so much [and] I’ve grown so much. I feel much older than my actual age. All of this has helped me mature. My music had to mature with it. I don’t even talk about a lot of the same things I’ve talked about when I first started, but I still try to keep that energy in there to give people what they want.
I also have to keep it true to myself as far as exerting that energy and being true to exactly what it is I’m feeling. I have to give that to people as raw as I possibly can and not water down anything. I’m not gonna dumb things down for people. I want us all to be on the same page as far as what I have to talk about. Whether it’s something serious or not, it’s how I’m feeling at that moment. If you’re going to be a listener, you’re going to be a part of the audience, and I want it to be an experience that is real and authentic.
Do you feel that creating music by yourself differs from working as a collective with the Midnight Society?
Definitely. We’re still a collective. Some of us even live together, but the thing about it is we’re all focusing on our own things because things are happening individually for everyone, and it’s great. I love that. I could even tell when we work on music together now, it’s a bit difficult because everyone is formulating a new sound. There are so many different things going on now as far as all these other new genres that have come into play. It’s dope because it adds a challenge. It takes way longer than it used to at first to make music together, but when we do get it done, it’s great.
You’ve mentioned before that creating “Metal In Me” gave you a lot of confidence. What was it like putting together that track, and do you feel the confidence gained through making it extends to other areas of your artistry?
I think that was probably the second song I made when I had moved into my new house. We moved in literally a week before COVID hit, so we got lucky. Our house was empty. All we had was a bed, a TV, a desk and then my studio monitors, and that was pretty much it. When I record, I don’t write anymore. Everything was off the top of my head, but it was crazy because I remember as soon as I heard that beat and I started to record, everything came instantly.
Even off the first three lines, I thought this was unreal. I felt like I was on fire instantly once that happened. Once the track was done, I was so happy with it. I sent it out to all my friends like, “Yo, this track is actually something serious. I think something crazy can come from this.” I kept working on songs that I felt were similar to that or derivative of it, and that’s really how the EP came together. I met my new engineer, and he opened up so many doors for my sound. I got that confidence that I could make way crazier music, make it more of an experience. It really puts out that raw energy.
The last song on the EP, “Fucking With My Head,” taps into a ska beat, which feels very different from your other tracks. How did it feel to write something so far away from the hip-hop world?
That was fun because I just met my engineer. He’s this guy named Tim Randolph (YUNGBLUD, POORSTACY.) He’s played in a bunch of bands and [has] been around for years. All the bands I was into, he was watching when he was 17, 18, so he gives me a lot of insight. It was him and then Zac [Carper] from FIDLAR, and we got really close [during the pandemic], and we’ve been working a lot together since. We were at Zac’s house and were drinking, and they were on acid. I just pulled up, and they were jumping around the room.
It came into fruition as that, and I’m like, “Whoa, this is actually really fucking good.” It was probably the second song that me and Zac had done together. I think that was the second time I ever met him, too. I feel like all that was based on energy. The energy was good, and the vibes were right, so it came together, and it took me out of my comfort zone, too.
Musically, the jump from “U Made The Devil Cry” to “HARD” is pretty drastic. When you were structuring the EP’s overall flow, why did you place tracks that stood apart from each other back to back?
When I got “Metal In Me” done as a track, that wasn’t a goal on my previous EP. The song is way crazier than all those songs, and I wanted to set it aside for something else. I was thinking to myself, “I can carbon-copy ‘Metal In Me’ and make three more similar songs so the album has cohesion.” I thought it’d be cooler if I create a story alongside this album, which is why my videos are so crazy. I am writing all these to create this character, [so] let’s give them a background. Let’s make sure the songs loosely reference everything that’s happening through the story and these videos.
Then what I wanted to do was [have] it start off serious—you have “Metal In Me,” “U Made The Devil Cry,” etc. When it jumps into stuff like “HARD,” it becomes more about love and softer tones. Now the songs are slower. Now it’s less about anger and aggression and more about love, compassion and softer energy. I want to switch that mode but still be able to show you the depth of this character that I’m trying to create so it’s not one-sided. You’re not just seeing aggression or anger. You can also see the love and the vulnerability parts, too. I also wanted to write scripts and direct my own videos, so I had to finally get my feet in the water with that.
Your music and overall aesthetic push into darker themes. Why do you feel drawn toward these aspects of life and art? What do you hope to be able to say through the music you release?
I want to be able to make music that delivers authentic feelings. I want it to be on a level where it’s not run of the mill, saying something that is generally popularized and understood. I want it to be stuff that people don’t talk about much but everyone secretly relates to. I want to take it somewhere different so that when you hear it, you can appreciate it unconditionally. Whether you’re sad, whether you’re happy, whatever, you’re going to hear the music, and it is still going to hit you. That’s my main goal. I want to [make music] on the level of the things that make me feel the way [I do] when I watch a great movie or when I hear a great song or when I get nostalgic. I want to give that back to people because I love those feelings.