Nottingham Rapper Juga-Naut Talks About New Album Bem II

Interview: Martin Makowski
Monday 08 April 2024
reading time: min, words

Humour, truth and growth are some of the ingredients to Bem II, the brand new self-produced album from Nottingham rapper Juga-Naut. We asked him to give us a taste of how he blends lyrics, meaning, production, collaboration and visuals to make such a record.

Juga Naut1

You've released your latest album Bem II on your 34th birthday. How did the album come to life?

I put the first Bem out on my birthday in 2020. It was heavily respected and really took my career to another place. It was also me turning thirty - I was like, yo! I need something that's a marker of this transition. But Bem II is brand new and it's the feeling of now. 


I've been reading a lot, watching a lot of films; arthouse, cult films, commercial films, rare films, a lot of seventies films, classics I had never seen. It really fed my soul. It's super lyrical and heavy with the beats as always. I also wanted to just make some solid grown-up music after putting out my album, Time & Place in 2022, which was ten years in the making. I had to get that out of my system, I had to birth that baby to move onto this next chapter.


Can you tell us about the title itself? And how do these two productions correlate together?

Okay, that's a good question. Bem is my third name. My Dad gave me and my brothers all African names. It's also Portuguese, which means good. That stuck out and it felt strong. 


The way the production matches up, it feels really solid, almost cinematic. I used some amazing samples, some original compositions, hard drums, grit, and texture. I really opened up my sense of humour more here, my obsession with alteration and the beauty of linguistics. With the beats, there’s a lot of funk, electro boogie, soul, and a rare groove on this one that matches up to the first. There are some more hooks and choruses with singing and also a strong theme of growth and understanding. 


I want you to be able to detach and live in a different world for a bit. I talk about some stuff that's happening right now and some issues that are dark, but also there's light there. I'll give you my political view or my opinion on something with a spoonful of sugar. I love that about art, all my favourite artists do that. They slide in their truth without preaching to you.


You've picked Sugarcane and Flat Pack songs to be released as singles. Why these two tracks?

Sugarcane is a super lyrical song. It’s almost a certain language I'm speaking, especially to heavy, heavy Hip-Hop listeners. It's my way of doing that sound, that feeling. It's braggadocious but at the same time historical. I had the idea for the video in my head just as I finished the track, so there was a visual element that really made sense. The song almost feels abstract, so the video is surreal, but also has a narrative and a story. I felt the energy in the music.


Flat Pack is a song I feel can cross over to a broader audience. It’s something that, like a great film, is something both young and old people could listen to. It's got a rare groove/west coast beat. It's something you could hear on the radio, you can dance to. That's what made me want to go with that. It's different from Sugarcane, but they both fit together with the lyricism and the production.


When it comes to the visual element, that's the magical part. Music is spiritual to me, it's the closest thing I have to a religion. Film and cinema are magic, the alchemy of a camera and editing life into a new story. When sound marries with image it takes art to a new realm.

Music is spiritual to me, it's the closest thing I have to a religion

Can you tell us about the featured artists that you've worked with on BEM II.

Vandal Savage is family, and a long time collaborator. As soon as I looped up the beat we got to work. The funny thing with Electric Boogaloo, it's kind of an in-joke. There was a film called Breaking, and Breaking 2 was called Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo. He mentioned Turbo and Ozone from the film in his verse. I was like, Oh, this is too perfect, cause it's Bem II: Electric Boogaloo.


Yumah's an incredible singer who uses her voice to make soundscapes, looping and flowing to create the full piece. We've been meaning to work together for years, and when I made that beat, I said, Man! she would kill this. So Yumah aka Lucy, runs The Loft Movie Theatre with her husband Gavin. They put on cult and classic films monthly at the Savoy Cinema in Nottingham. We also did a night together called Food & Film at Rough Trade. I cooked the food as Chef-Jugz served a three-course meal to match the movie being shown.


CRIMEAPPLE is from New Jersey, and he's one of the best rappers out nowadays. I did a track for an album of his, and then we finally got something together on one of my beats. I’m really happy with it. Double Down is so hard, like a train flying down the tracks. He's a good person, I always aim to collaborate with good people first, the art is the bonus. It's a lovely feeling to meet someone in person and then build a working artistic relationship that lasts.


Is there anything else you would like to say to people about Bem II.

If you can, listen to it from beginning to end. And if you don't like it, you don't like it. If you do, that’s amazing! Hopefully, the sequel outweighs the first, hopefully it has got better. I thank you for your listening ear and time always, I truly appreciate every person that supports my art and what I do. But also please listen before you see me in the street and you ask me if I'm ‘still doing my little music thing’. Because yeah, I've been doing it for fifteen-plus years.

You can get Bem II at: and on all streaming platforms. 



We have a favour to ask

LeftLion is Nottingham’s meeting point for information about what’s going on in our city, from the established organisations to the grassroots. We want to keep what we do free to all to access, but increasingly we are relying on revenue from our readers to continue. Can you spare a few quid each month to support us?

Support LeftLion

Please note, we migrated all recently used accounts to the new site, but you will need to request a password reset

Sign in using

Or using your

Forgot password?

Register an account

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.

Forgotten your password?

Reset your password?

Password must be at least 8 characters long, have 1 uppercase, 1 lowercase, 1 number and 1 special character.