Finding purpose after being knocked down isn’t easy, but for Chicago-based trans rapper London Jade, submission has never been an option. Raised in New York to an Italian/Sicilian/Hispanic family, the rising performer struggled to find acceptance of her transness at an early age, battling with at-home violence and oppression at school.
After years of built-up anger, Jade eventually took to the streets, involving with the wrong crowd before getting arrested and sent to a school for juvenile delinquents. Though many might call this “rock bottom” for a teenager, this was Jade’s new beginning—the place where she honed her ravenous rap skills and religiously studied witchcraft.
These moments of self-discovery helped lay the framework for what would become Jade’s debut EP, Witch Hoe—a title that speaks to her self-declared sixth sense and experience as a private escort. After years of fighting for her gender identity, surviving the national criminal system and breaking free of abusive romantic relationships, Jade has successfully come out on top, creatively, socially and sexually.
Witch Hoe sounds like it was created by a fighter, lyrically and sonically growling with the subversive grit of America’s cultural underbelly. On title track, “Witch Hoe,” Jade reclaims her sexual power with lyrics like, “I’m tryna put this candle stick all into his throat,” set above charged trap production; “Bust” sees Jade exploring more club-friendly beats, rivaling Azealia Banks’ Fantasea mixtape over a glossy Autograf’s instrumental. “I know a couple dudes that will slice ya neck,” she spits, reminding us she’s not one to be messed with.
Following this week’s Witch Hoe breakout, we caught up with London Jade to learn more about Chicago’s underground emcee.
What was the process leading up to Witch Hoe’s official release?
It has been scrapped and titled about three times. I was in a relationship last fall to this winter/spring; the EP was first, New Moon, because a lot of new opportunities were coming around in my life: new job, new apartment, new boyfriend, new music, but as the writing process carried on, the relationship got very intense and started to feel like a Full Moon. The energy of that relationship was extremely high in every way possible: rage, love, happiness, excitement, aggression—it was all very overwhelming for me and I decided to break up with him. Then it became Witch Hoe in 2010 [because] I was arrested for armed robbery with countless assault charges already on my name from always popping off at people for stupid things, like looking at me wrong, calling me a ‘faggot’ or a ‘man with his dick back,’ because back then, people didn’t really accept transwomen the way they do now.
How did your arrest ultimately help inform the EP?
I had a very violent, rough time growing up at home, so when I hit the streets around 12 years old, I was nonstop looking for someone to let my anger out on. Eventually, I got caught up with the wrong crowd and got arrested. The judge sent me to a psychiatric center because he thought I was fucking crazy after watching tapes of me fighting. After that, I was sent to a residential school for juvenile delinquents, but even there, I was still out of control and got sent upstate New York to be locked down in the middle of nowhere. When I was sent up there, I was in an ALL BOYS facility, still identifying as transgender. They surprisingly gave me everything I needed as a t-girl. While all the boys would do push ups and work out, I was in my room with books studying witchcraft and going off with a pen and stacks of paper. day after day I would write these raps and teach myself how to compose lyrics, like some of the best rappers do: Kanye West, Remy Ma, Biggie Smalls.
Lyrically, what’s the main message behind Witch Hoe?
Know who you are, what you do and how to do it. It’s about growth, figuring out your sexuality, what you like, not caring what a man likes or demands from you, and being a very self-aware person who knows their spirit—who knows their energy, no matter if it’s dark or light energy. I find myself in the gray area, so I definitely had to put that into the music.
How do you describe the sound of this project?
The sound of this EP is definitely more on the dark side. ‘Black Audio,’ produced by UK trap producer HUCCI, is very dark aggressive. I wrote that song in 2013 after my first break-up ever, and decided to put it on the EP like two days before I released it. I’m all about heavy bass and a menacing flow, with trance-like synths in the background. I also dabbled with some deep house; ‘Bust,’ produced by AUTOGRAF, is my club hit off of the EP, which I’ve performed before and the crowd gagged. I wrote that song three times, but kept the first verse, which I wrote when i was hungover biking to a late open shift at my old job. The title track, ‘Witch Hoe,’ produced by SBOY, could easily be handed to any trap artist, like Future and Young Thug, who’re two of my favorite rappers.
How’d you decide on the name, Witch Hoe?
I chose the title, Witch Hoe, because that is exactly what I am—I am a sexual entity with the energy to seduce anyone I target. After I broke up with my last ex in march, the EP became Witch Hoe because I considered that relationship somewhat sexually abusive. We met off Tinder and instantly dove into a relationship about two weeks later. We lived together, so I cooked for him, cleaned for him—did anything I could for him. He had only been with cis-women his whole life, but was open to something new. He told me that no matter what genitals I had, he was still down for me—turns out, that was a lie. After breaking up with him, he admitted he can’t be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t have a pussy because he will end up cheating. Next time I saw him, I beat the shit out of him and snatched a dread right out of his head. That’s when Witch Hoe became the title.
What’d you learn from this relationship?
I’m very much into satanic witchcraft and voodoo when I need to be, and because he fucked with me sexually, I did not want anyone inside of my body. So I switched my sexual role to being a top—something I never thought I’d consider. Now, I love myself entirely—more than I ever had, because I realize how strong I am as a transwoman. I needed to put this project out to let the world know how real this life can be. This EP would be best described as a ‘Power Trip;’ feel your strength and see where it takes you. I’m not about to let anybody tell me I’m not strong, when I can easily prove it to their ass.
Do you have a favorite track on this EP?
‘Witch Hoe’ addresses just about everything this EP represents. From the sexual puns and metaphors, to addressing the straight/cis community in the rap game that isn’t accepting of transwomen: ‘Yeah, I got a dick and I might even have to use it, and if you don’t like it, get your ears away from music, tranny bitch rapping and I’m verbally abusive.’ Those bars describe everything I, myself, and this EP stand for.
How has your experience been living in Chicago?
Chicago has generally inspired me to be the hardest working person I can be. But, as we all know, Chicago is the city of murder. I live in a dangerous neighborhood known as, ‘King Land,’ where mostly everyone is a Latin King. That’s why in ‘Bust’ I said, ‘I live with the killers, keep a goon at the back door, that’s right I’m blessed.’ One day I was stopped by the OG of my block, saying I have his blessing around here, and if anyone ever tries to bother me to call him. I may have gotten my shit together and will never land myself back in jail, but I’m overall a hood ass bitch, and being blessed by a Latin King means a lot. He recognized something in me from talking to him for an hour and helped me understand what goes down in this city. I definitely took all of that, and put it into my music.