William G. Shields, better known as Jehst or a slew of aliases including The High Plains Drifter and Jay Star, is an English rapper and co-founder of hip hop label YNR.
Jehst is the best kept secret in British rap and one of the most consistent artists to break out of the UK over the last five years. This man has built a following and spawned a thousand soundalikes right across the country. Top-notch flows, unconventional subject matter and tight beats mean that the product is always at the top of tree, while his stage show is without doubt the best of any UK hip-hop artist.
Jehst is acclaimed for the wide variety of moods, subjects and atmospheres captured in his music, ranging from defiant to reflective to mysterious.
Born in Kent in the summer of '79, Jehst spent his early childhood in Crowborough in Sussex before moving to Huddersfield where he experienced the bleak realities of the post-industrial north, which have been such an influence on his lyrical style. After schooling Jehst moved to the Harrow Campus of the University of Westminster to study illustration and English Literature.
His debut release came in 1999 with the Premonitions EP on YNR, which he co-founded with Leeds hip-hop artist, Tommy Evans. His solo career extended further when he appeared on Task Force's EP Voice of the Great Outdoors (2000) with the track 'Cosmic Gypsies', which resulted in a long time association with Low Life Records. The release of four 12" records on the same label soon followed, while at around the same time in 2002 Jehst was also a pivotal member of the seven man group 'Champions of Nature', whose members included AM, Apollo, L. Dolo, Lewis Parker, Profound and Supa T. The group eventually released two EP's before disbanding, but not before the final release of the highly acclaimed full-length The Return of the Drifter. Issued in June 2002, it was a double release with an accompanying 11-track CD of the same name. This was essentially a collection of previously released tracks and a cross-section of Jehst's work up to that point.
Following a steady rise of success in the underground hip hop scene, a handful of guest appearances soon followed. Furthermore, Shield's had begun collaborating with producers such as Evil Ed, Harry Love and Lewis Parker to further enhance his status as an established figure within the British hip hop scene. In 2003 he unveiled his debut album Falling Down, which featured guest appearances from Lewis Parker, The Sundragon, Usmaan and Klashnekoff. Jehst's next solo installment came in the form of the 2005 effort, Nuke Proof Suit. The following year saw Jehst's production project, Jehst Presents: Underworld Epics come to fruition. In 2007 The Mengi Bus Mixtape was released, accompanied by a string of live shows including a detour of Australia.
Sheild's has also released material under the name 'Billy Brimstone' on his own label, YNR; the same label responsible for many up and coming and established British hip hop artists.
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