Jake and John Cardiff are taking their emerging rap career on the road this May, headlining their first tour with concerts lined up throughout the Northeast and Midwest.
Known by their growing fanbase as The Cardiff Brothers, 19-year-old Jake and 21-year-old John have been performing as an opening act at smaller club venues throughout the country. This upcoming tour will mark their turn as the headlining act at those venues, with even more recognition to follow.
“After this tour, recognition is going to come. Festivals and big events like that will start to notice,” explained Jake during a recent interview. Finalized tour stops include Stanhope, N.J.; Hamden, Conn.; and Boston, Mass.; the guys are also working on dates in New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit.
The Cardiff Brothers will also likely add a show somewhere in Rhode Island.
“As far as we were concerned, we didn’t have fans in Rhode Island, but we do now,” explained Jake.
Recognition for the act has already started. The Cardiff Brothers are competing in a social media fan contest for a spot at the OMG Music Festival in Chicago this spring; acts for the contest were nominated by fans on social media. Others in the competition include well-known artists such as Jake Miller and Emblem3 (from season two of “The X Factor”).
“It’s crazy to even be in that same category,” said Jake.
The brothers started their path toward a rap career doing what most siblings do: Making fun of each other.
“It started as joking around. He would start a beat and we would go for hours making fun of each other [rapping back and forth],” said Jake.
John said the two would go back and forth, poking fun at each other’s clothes, relationships, whatever. Things picked up when the brothers were constantly asked to show off their skills during their shifts together at Showcase Cinemas Warwick.
John decided to take his interest in producing music a step further by taking audio and video production at the Community College of Rhode Island after graduating from Toll Gate High School in 2010.
“I wanted to learn how to make music,” said John, explaining that he did have to drop out of classes due to financial reasons but was able to pick up some skills. “I learned how to use it on my own and saved up enough money to buy our own equipment.”
The brothers admit when they first started to record, their equipment was not the best quality; they used a microphone from the video game Rock Band to record their voices because it had a USB and could connect to the computer.
Jake went to the Warwick Career and Technical Center to study culinary but knew by his senior year that music was his life. “But senior year I just spent all day writing raps,” said Jake.
He graduated from Toll Gate in 2012 and began working with his brother on music, choosing not to attend college.
“Would you rather spend that money or chase your dream?” he said.
And that dream is slowly coming true. About a year ago, they had the chance to be the opening act for Kendrick Lamar (now a Grammy-nominated rapper) at the University of Rhode Island Ryan Center; it was their fourth time on stage.
“I will never forget that,” said Jake.
After that, the duo picked up speed and began performing whenever and wherever they could, traveling as far west as Wisconsin and as far south as Pittsburgh. They have performed to crowds between 200 and 300 people. Jake keeps a video of one of the largest performances on his phone, which shows the crowd singing along and giving them support.
“That’s 200 people that didn’t know who we were, but they’re still rocking out,” said Jake.
John added this headlining tour is a big step for the duo.
“Even though it’s a smaller show, these people are there to see us,” he said.
These shows will be for crowds of 300 or 400, and this time around, the brothers are getting paid. They explained that many people don’t realize that opening acts often have to pay to perform; this time around the brothers will get a percentage based on ticket sales.
“Six months ago, we had to pay to perform. This time around we’re getting paid,” said Jake.
The Cardiff Brothers are also working on recording their first EP, which they hope to have available on iTunes by early spring, along with a free download of select songs. They have been working on recording their songs from their newer equipment at home; they have ditched the Rock Band microphone but have never set foot in a studio. John handles the technical aspect of creating the beats for the songs, raps and can sing pop choruses, while Jake raps on the songs.
Passionate about the technical aspects of creating music, John said it is one of his dreams to get into a real studio to record. “I’d probably never leave,” he said.
Jake and John say their sound is unique and hard to place in one genre. While they really enjoy listening to new, up-and-coming artists, they also follow many of the mainstream rap, hip-hop and pop artists.
“Our songs are for everyone. You may not like all of our songs, but you’ll find something,” said John.
As for working together, they get along like most brothers do. “We get along for the most part, but when we fight, it’s over the smallest things,” said Jake.
“Ten minutes later, we’re fine,” added John.
But don’t try to turn the brothers against each other. The two admit they will often get messages saying one brother is better than the other or similar remarks, but they don’t let it get to them.
“We just want to be able to do what we love,” said John.
They also want to be able to do what’s best for themselves and their family down the line. Jake and John have three other brothers and a sister, as well as their parents supporting them entirely. The two say their parents are just as floored by how quickly things have been growing over the past year as they are.
They also hope that somewhere down the line their younger brother Jesse will join in their musical pursuits. Jake and John say their youngest brother is very talented in music, and has even played drums for the brothers.
One of the things that really shocked Jake and John about the past year is that they have a fan following known as Cardiff Nation, which includes people throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, South America and beyond. Combined, the brothers have roughly 12,000 followers on Twitter and are constantly receiving requests to play concerts everywhere from Hawaii and California to Indonesia and Cardiff, Wales in the United Kingdom. Since the town name is also their last name, John said they will have to play a show there one day.
They also constantly see fans posting photos wearing their Cardiff Nation merchandise (which they sold out of recently). They even have interesting fan encounters.
“People cry meeting us,” said John, admitting he doesn’t quite know what to do when that happens. “They’re freaking out over this.”
For now, The Cardiff Brothers only perform in cities they are able to easily drive to. Looking forward, they hope to be able to start flying to gigs in the South and on the West Coast.
“Right now, it’s not logical for us to fly out there,” explained John, citing the cost of travel as a hurdle.
But at the shows they do perform, Jake and John make sure to take care of the dedicated members of Cardiff Nation.
“If you come out to our show, we will meet you. We plan to meet every person who comes to one of our shows,” said John.
To keep up with what The Cardiff Brothers are doing, follow Jake and John on Twitter (@jakecardiff401 and @john_cardiff_) and to listen to their music, find all of their videos by searching The Cardiff Brothers on YouTube.