“No cook crack with that black girl magic/I’m smokin’ Spike Lee joint, she just gotta have it/Everybody wanna be black, it’s so tragic,” raps Junglepussy on “State of the Union”, the opening track of her new full-length album, the arresting and mature Jp3. It’s a perfect encapsulation of her general philosophy: she can be pissed off at that state of the world, but her therapy is channeling her angers and frustrations into searing songs about being, above all, a modern black woman.
Influenced by everyone from Erykah Badu to Missy Elliott, Junglepussy has existed in her own category of NYC rap for the past few years, ever since her debut mixtape, Satisfaction Guaranteed, acquired a level of underground acclaim when it was released in 2014. Junglepussy was a new kind of female rapper: brashly sexual, she continued the body-positive feminist legacy of artists like Lil Kim; health-conscious, she promoted her own brand of vegetable juices, dubbed “Junglepussy Juice,” on her Instagram; by linking up with Texas-born, Brooklyn-based producer Shy Guy on her debut album Pregnant with Success, she was able to find a balance of releasing tracks for a low-key club moment as well as emotional, autobiographical songs better suited for lip-syncing in front of your bedroom mirror.
“State of the Union” is a throwback to old-school, ’90s hip-hop – that track where the rapper lays it all out on the record. Over a simple yet affecting string sample, Junglepussy’s bars are solid and sharp, bringing up her Caribbean heritage (“Eatin’ jerk chicken while I’m finessin’ in the booth”) with her signature raunchiness (“Don’t worry where my hair grow, pussy the fattest/My nookie, my ass, tits, I’m never average”). But her sexuality is not on display to be debased, quite the contrary; on Jp3, Junglepussy reaches a new level of maturity and awareness. You get the distinct impression that this is about empowerment, about taking what she wants and asserting herself as someone who refuses to apologize for demanding she be fulfilled.
Take “I Just Want It”, for example. The intention is right there in the title -Junglepussy doesn’t need a reason, an explanation, or permission to satisfy her sexuality. “Damn, these n*ggas really is dumb/What’s love got to do with makin’ me cum?” she spits, while teasing her partner with a tongue-in-cheek ode to giving head: “Wanna fuck me so bad but you never gonna!” It’s funny, cheeky, but also bold and righteous. Some might call it smutty, but Junglepussy is beyond that, and by concocting “I Just Want It” as a catchy track with upbeat trap undertones, she makes it so you can’t help but feel her vibe.
“Long Way Home” fits right into this mood, as an homage to rappers who have come before. It features the legendary Tennessee rapper Gangsta Boo, who, as the only female member of Three 6 Mafia, completely changed the Southern rap game in the late ’90s/early ’00s. “Long Way Home” is a downtempo, languid track, full of windchimes and funky, ultra-wet electric guitars. The subdued balladry is punctuated by the hook: “Feelin’ that dick all up in my armpit”, and the atmosphere shifts from lovestruck to highly sensual. On the track, Junglepussy and Gangsta Boo are trying to explain to their men that, while sex is definitely on the menu, they’re open to build something more – someone to walk home with. It’s a deft move from such a sex-positive artist, and her wish to rightfully have her cake and eat it too is the basis on which Jp3 is constructed.
At a tight 10 tracks, there’s no mood on Jp3 that overstays its welcome, and in an era where so many rappers feel the need to release overstuffed albums for the SoundCloud crowd, it’s a real treat to experience something carefully edited so only its best parts shine through. “Trader Joe”, the only track on the album produced by Kashaka (who has also worked with A$AP Ferg, Ski Mask and Zebra Katz), stands out as a result – its bouncy beat, supporting lovelorn backing vocals recalling ’60s girl groups, gives it a refreshing pop sheen, perfect for the last half of the record. Same goes for “Showers”, the album’s scintillatingly chill closer, which revolves around a Motown guitar riff and an admittedly adorable mini-feature from Junglepussy’s nephew Zachary. “Shower with my chains on/Took a shower, all my chains on,” they both sing, ending the record with an air of childlike innocence, rebirthed and focused. It’s rare to find an artist as self-assured as Junglepussy, and Jp3 is squarely the sound of her marching to the beat of her own drum.