Multifaceted rapper, producer and audio engineer Pi'erre Bourne talks about touring, the label SossHouse, his most recent album 'Good Movie' and more.
Pi'erre Bourne pulls up to the Universal Music offices on a bitter Tuesday afternoon in London, wearing a Moncler puffa jacket and a ski mask. Beautifully coordinated with the colour purple, the fit fills the room with a royal scent that matches his natural nobility. Accompanied by Jellie, Frieze and Sharc, who sport different coloured SossHouse, tracksuits, the Fort Riley native has his head down, fiddling with an iPad which he’s using to order food.
Pi'erre Bourne, real name Jordan Jenks, hasn’t eaten all day, but his demeanor remains calm and welcoming. Managing to catch the superstar rapper and producer in a rare moment of peace is an increasingly difficult task these days. Currently embarking on his ‘Good Movie’ world tour, which sees him play 48 dates across three continents in over 101 days, the artist is evidently fatigued by such a grueling schedule. Does the exhaustion affect him, you may ask? “Music is my vice” he fires back, before quickly adding, “I'm glad that I can continue to connect with my fans in each place that I go to.”
And connect he does. The night before our interview, he blesses Electric Ballroom’s stage with a high-octane performance of his biggest hits. Fiending for his ebullient instrumentals and sedative flows, the crowd’s cultish energy effervesces into a pool of steam as mosh pits begin to widen for Pi'erre’s entrance. As he bounds on stage, commanding ‘Yeah Less go, yeah less go, yeah less go’, they collapse in on themselves in momentous fashion. Solo cuts like ‘Poof’ come with an energy too tangible to be ignored, and for the remainder of the night, everyone is narcotised by his ethereal 808s.
Back to reality. And it dawns on me that seeing Pi'erre, a global hip-hop powerhouse, in such intimate settings goes against the vogues of modern live performances. But this INTIMACY has been a fixture of his previous tours, too. “I know some artists come out and they’re in the arenas immediately. That’s cool but, they can’t see everybody” he muses. “Right now, I want people to know what I look like. At the Electric Ballroom, there are no front-row seats, all you got to do is push your way up there”. And that they did, armed with their iPhone and film cameras – desperately trying to capture the moment.
Touring the world, playing shows and making hits have always been part of Pi'erre Bourne’s masterplan, whose forebodings of musical greatness began when spending his summers in Queens, New York, visiting his Grandma. After witnessing family members flowing over beats, the 29-year-old began to write rhymes of his own. It wasn’t until moving to Atlanta that Pi'erre started studying audio engineering and mixing with life-long collaborators like Playboi Carti and Young Nudy. Adapting to different cities and rap scenes aided his originality and quickly developed an infectious production style that now every trap artist on the planet craves. But, even with the success, his beats continue to achieve, penning verses is all he originally wanted to do. “Every rapper at that time wanted everyone else to do everything for them, and that’s why a lot of people didn’t blow up,” Pi'erre affirms. “Making beats, that’s self-sufficient. Don’t think that one is any less than the other, they go hand in hand.” It was his hip-hop-loving uncle who passed down such wisdom, which would prove invaluable in years to come.
Nowadays, Pi'erre Bourne’s equally apocalyptic and celestial beats are completely unavoidable. Influencing a whole new era of rap production, his instrumental for Playboi Carti’s breakout single ‘Magnolia’ incidentally inspired a wave of producers rushing to replicate his cloudy sound. “Ayy Pi'erre you wanna come out here?”, the infamous producer tag that initiates his beats, has become one of the most recognisable calling cards in the game. Lil Yachty, Travis Scott, A$AP Rocky and Kanye West are just a few names in an endless list of collaborators who’ve had the Jamie Foxx soundbite in their songs.
Indeed, part of Pi'erre’s musical identity is embedded in collaboration. Insisting on working with artists in the studio, instead of sending them over beats electronically, the multifaceted musician has become somewhat of a mentor for many fresh faces in the scene. “I definitely feel like I'm a hard critic for a lot of artists, but they appreciate my honesty,” he explains. “I’m really big on just good music. I don’t care whether it was recorded in the bathroom, in the shower, or in an elevator, it doesn't matter as long as it sounds good to me”.
It’s this sagacity that’s brought success to his creative collective SossHouse. Riding with him on the day of our interview, Jellie Frieze and Sharc, who open for Pi'erre the night before, are three acts on the record label’s roster with bags of potential. “When I first started the concept, it was hard for the outside, not the fans but the corporate people, to really believe in this young Black kid with a label idea,” he says. In other words, the doubters failed to fracture Pi'erre’s inherent tenacity. The artist is, after all, living proof that undivided devotion gets you to where you want to be.
He wants the artists to realise that the journey “is not going to be pretty”. Pi'erre understands that there’s a level of responsibility that comes with being a label manager, but after celebrating SossHouse’s 10-year anniversary, he knows that the collective is treading the right path. “Eventually, I want them all to pull up on their own show in London,” he says, as Jellie, Frieze and Sharc interject with mumbled remarks of agreement. "You’ve got to get over the shit to get to where you want to be and then shit will start coming full circle. That’s how it was for me”.
The release of his new album, ‘Good Movie’, then, is a testament to Pi'erre Bourne’s longevity. Elevating his pen game with a strong narrative pulse, his third solo record closely dissects the emotional vulnerability that comes after a breakup. It’s his most cohesive project to date and one that showcases a true auteur spirit. Crooning delicate hooks over sugary beats, the album comforts you with a warmth that people crave after a broken relationship. “I think I wanted each song to” Pi'erre pauses “you know how when you search for a movie, online or wherever, there are so many different genres, I guess the genres could be considered different emotions” he concludes. This pulls through the record’s beat choices. Adding elements of house and two-step to the glitchy trap he’s known for, Pi'erre’s willingness to tailor genres towards his unique sound isn’t anything new, but it’s something he explores more overtly on ‘Good Music’.
Anyone unfamiliar with Pi'erre Bourne up to this point needs to know that he’s simply a music man, through and through. “It’s always been my escape. When I was writing songs in class and going home and recording them at my momma’s house, it was my way to vent; to get my aggression out” he says with growing compassion for his past.
These memories display diligence that’s deeply rooted in Pi'erre’s success. Sparking an unrivaled work ethic, the seeds he laid from a young age allowed him to grow into one of the decade’s pre-eminent hip-hop figures. It’s a statement that Pi'erre's too humble to agree with, but he remains excited about what the future may hold. “I’ve been confident in myself for a long time,” he tells me. “A lot of people ask me, “why are you so confident?”, To that, I always say…why is that a problem?”. For Pi'erre Bourne and SossHouse, even with decades in the game, you get the feeling that they're just getting started.
Words Liam Cattermole @liam_cattermole
Photos Harris Bourne (@purplecontrast)