“Did not expect moustachioed guy with hipster hat,” read a comment on the YouTube video for Jawnii-Abhi’s August 2016 single “Flip Phone.”
Despite the hipster aesthetic, the Richmond-native is not the sort of musician to pluck a guitar and croon. Instead, he raps.
Jawnii-Abhi is the stage name for John Evans. He recently left the east coast and relocated to Oakland, California. It’s been a few months since he released “Flip Phone”, so on February 7, he spontaneously decided to release his latest project, “Bobbi.”
The song, on which he collaborated with local rapper Dr. Millionaire, may be a single for now, but Evans plans to release an EP this year.
“Working with Isaiah/Dr. Millionaire is always dope. I consider him a good friend of mine, and with everything we make together, the drastic difference in not only our voices but the way we approach songwriting, always makes for a really unique dynamic,” Evans said. “He’s just a super intelligent guy who studies flows/wordplay/etc. and always impresses me. I tell him we need to do a full project together all the time. Hopefully that’ll happen sooner rather than later.”
Evans was raised with an exposure to music. His mother is a piano teacher and was previously a choral director, so he listened to a lot of classical music. Evans even played cello in an orchestra and sang in a chorus while growing up, but he eventually gravitated towards the rap genre.
“I’ve got a long-time friend, Warren, who introduced me to Luniz’ ‘I Got 5 On It’ in like 5th grade and I still remember that every time I hear it,” Evans said.
Evans cites many influences for his inspiration as a rapper such as Lil’ Wayne, Jay Z, Missy Elliot, Dr. Dre, and Eminem.
“While both my previous single, ‘Flip Phone’, and ‘Bobbi,’ are more along the boasting style rap, I really enjoy writing emotional shit,” Evans said. “Talking about feelings sucks, but writing about them is dope. So I say thank you to songwriting for allowing me to not always be a closed off weirdo.”
Though Evans is embracing California, he still has a soft spot for Richmond in his heart. Since moving away, he’s longed for time spent at Kuba Kuba, El Jardin Latino Market and shows at Strange Matter.
“I miss buying 40s of Hurricane High Gravity with change from the Citgo at Broad and Allen, although I’m pretty sure it’s no longer a Citgo. Regardless, with tax that shit was $2.33. Almost too good to be true,” Evans said. “Most of all, I just miss the city as a whole. It played a pivotal role in my life – I’m sure I’ll be back in the future.”
Words by Charlotte Woods