After releasing her 2014 LP Satisfaction Guaranteed, which delivered everything its title promised, rapper Junglepussy fled from New York to find inspiration beneath the California sun—a fitting move for the emcee who so fondly speaks of the tropics, despite being a true Brooklyn-bred diva. What spawned from this spontaneous solo vacation is a standout follow-up, Pregnant With Success, loaded with even more finger-pointing ferocity and unforgiving humor as its predecessor.
On album opener, “Spicy 103 FM,” JP asserts her untouchable approach to hip-hop, building a lyrical narrative around a radio show to vent about her tumultuous experiences with love. “Wiping these whack ass niggas off the back of my windshield,” she spits, introducing an album that’s equally tongue-in-cheek as it is cut throat.
This recipe sounds strongest on “Country Boy,” where JP puts NYC transplants in their place, reminding the cocky disillusioned who the real “city girl” is. Key tracks like “Pop For You” and “Get To Steppin” strengthen this signature hilarity, as JP raps about “this one thoughtful mothafucka” that took her to the zoo and chants wildly about her Fendi boots.
We caught up with the on-the-rise rapper to discuss speaking at Yale, creating music to cope with a racially tense nation and escaping to a fantasy oasis with no cellphone service.
So much has happened since you put out Satisfaction Guaranteed. What happened in-between these two album releases?
“After releasing Satisfaction Guaranteed last summer, that whole fall felt empty. I’m like ‘Wow, I have nothing. I just gave away all I have.’ So going into the New Year, I’m out here all through the holidays, just focused on getting a vision for myself, for the sounds that I hear in my head—focused on the emotions and situations I want to express. In January, I took a trip by myself to LA for 10 days, and just stayed in Beverly Hills by myself writing—coming up with mad concepts and ideas and was just all out brain farting my ideas over LA. It was good.
When I came back to New York I hit up Shy Guy because right before I went to LA, I was like ‘I need some music,’ so then when I came back he was like, ‘Yo, I got some.’ I would record shit on Garageband, do a voiceover and then I’d take it to the studio, so he could hear where I was going with it. A week didn’t go by where we weren’t recording in the studio, and that’s a blessing because looking back on it now, the year’s almost done and I’m like ‘Wow, it’s been a full year of just creating and nurturing a project. Nothing was really calculated and strategized; we really were just in the zone making music.”
That’s interesting you chose to escape in LA.
“I needed to not be in New York. I needed to just go. I was saying ‘I don’t want to be here,’ and then I was like, ‘Run away.’ But I didn’t want to like, go anywhere with no cell phone service. I was like, ‘Don’t make any hasty decisions and run off into the Jamaican jungle.’ So I’m like, ‘Alright, let me go to the closest, but farthest place with Palm Trees’ because the closest would be Miami, but I’m like, ‘Let me do LA.’ It was cool. I just need newness, and I can’t be in the same place for too long.”
I can completely relate. What’s your sign?
“I’m a Scorpio. My birthday was Halloween. Scorpios, we have regenerated powers, so we can die, resurrect ourselves, fall in the ashes and rise up again. It’s a cool thing, I mean it helps me because I always end up grounded and then I have other moments where I’m feeling really elated—feeling like I’m rising above all the fuckery.”
Scorpios are supposed to be vicious lovers. Maybe that explains a lot of the aggression on Pregnant With Success.
“I know, which sucks because I guess that’s why I’m single. But if I’m single because I have to call out all the fuckery that guys do for the rest of my life, then that is my life’s duty. I can’t help it.”
Like “Country Boy,” which is one of my favorites off the album. Tell me about that track.
“So, ‘Country Boy’ was really early in the New Year, I think that was around right when I got back from LA. I was just feeling so New York. I was tired of these boys that are not from the city, coming into the city and acting like they run shit. So it was just a song for my Brooklyn blood. Yeah, I liked it. It’s kind of like that song is, ‘Mi Nuh Care’ [from Satisfaction Guaranteed]. A lot of the new songs are grown, more matured versions of older songs. ‘Country Boy’ is definitely about uplifting the city and saying like, ‘Fuck them country boys.’ But no, I love the country and I love the South, but I love the city.”
Let’s talk about your Yale speech, which was a chief moment in your career thus far, but also very important for hip-hop and people of color.
“I would’ve never thought that that would have happened. They reached out to me to bring me there, and I just was so humbled. I wasn’t like ‘Yes, I deserve this—to be here.’ Even up until the day it happened, I was like, ‘Wow, they want to hear what I have to say? These scholarly, Ivy League students? Okay!’ It was a beautiful experience—something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Even just seeing your name, “Junglepussy,” in the context of something at Yale is so amazing.
“When I was just putting singles out, other artists were like, ‘Oh my gosh, no—don’t use this name.’ And I’m like, ‘why?’ It’s bad enough all these racist people are going to be frowning their face at me, but fellow artists? You have self-expression and fucking up the norm—you’re telling me to change my name? People were acting like I was asking their children to tattoo my names on their titties. No. So, being asked to speak at Yale, this is magical. I defied so many odds, and I think that’s something I’m always going do. I’m always going to do some groundbreaking shit just because the name strikes so many emotions. The Yale talk showed me how we’re advancing as a culture and everybody’s being more open-minded. It’s necessary for the growth of humanity.”
Maybe I’m numbed to all things shocking, but Junglepussy doesn’t even remotely seem offensive—it’s confident, if anything.
“When the Pussycat Dolls came out I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is so fucking cute,’ and they had all the sponsors in the world. They were poppin’ but they also were not black. They had merch and all that. And I come out with Junglepussy; you would swear ‘Jungle’ is a profanity. So I just know that all boils down to me, being black, and me… being black. That’s it.”
Let’s talk about that. Since Satisfaction Guaranteed, there’s been increased cultural visibility surrounding these issues. How has this affected you?
“I take it to sleep with me every night. If I go to the studio, meetings, whatever—these are my people, so it bothers me. It’s so sad; this is never going to end. Especially when I listen to older music, and disrespecting the history of black people in this country. It’s not like we’re helpless; it’s not like we’re not going to continue the fight, but it takes a toll on me. I know that I have to make music and create things that can help ease this pain for people. I pray a lot about it. I meditate, hope, pray and wish for a better future.
Every week there’s something. Last summer, I wanted to put out my video for ‘Nah,’ but there was so much emotion and heartbreak around the Brown situation. I didn’t want to put out the video to put attention on me when my people were hurting; I was hurting. I’m like, ‘Fuck this video, no. Why?’ I don’t want people to look at me; I want people to look at this fucking horrible system that we’re a part of. It’s always going to bother me, but I’ll always use my music to be medicinal for me because that’s all I have to help make things feel a little better.”
On a lighter note, one of the marking characteristics of Pregnant With Success is the humor throughout. You’re really fucking funny.
“Shy Guy and I would be cracking up in the studio. Sometimes I’m like, ‘Wait, I have to stop laughing just so I can record this.’ That’s a big part of my life and I had to make sure I didn’t leave that behind. I had to continue to be as ‘me’ as possible on this project. I get sad, but I don’t like being sad, so I make myself laugh a lot. I make myself laugh and then I’m like, ‘Whoa, I was not expecting to laugh that hard. Maybe I should share this?’ That’s why I share my personality like this, I genuinely enjoy cracking myself up and think, ‘This isn’t fair for me to laugh this hard, and I’ve got to share it.’”
Describe your dream vacation.
“It would be this tropical oasis with hammocks, huts and all the agriculture we need near by, and fresh fruits and some good, tanning sun. Not the American sun that just fucking dries you out. I never get a tan in New York. My ideal vacation would be somewhere without cellphone service and wifi, but I cannot be by myself. I’d have to be here with at least one person to share certain moments with. It would just be the most beautiful, tropical getaway, like pictures on Twitter spam accounts that are like some beautiful home in Sweden—a real getaway.”