London Jade is over it--over the streets, the drama, the system and, most importantly, the transphobia. You can hear it on her sophomore EP, Transcendent, where the trans rapper spits on all four tracks with a menacing bite that's equally furious and ferocious. She's over it, but she's not tired, using the resistance she's faced as a marginalized artist to make her stronger and more self-confident.
The project follows Jade's breakout EP Witch Hoe, and maintains a similar DIY bedroom-rap approach with production from underground notables Jeremiah Meece, Bored Lord and demongay. A product of traveling across the country, from Miami to Chicago, Jade reflects on love, sexuality and spirituality, declaring herself "The Beast" and ultimately letting her naysayers know she's "Transcendent."
OUT recently caught up with the burgeoning emcee to discuss her latest effort and how she's "out-deviling all the demons" through music.
OUT: This is your first release since Witch Hoe. What has happened in-between the two projects, and how have these experiences affected the new music?
London Jade: Between both projects, some side projects have fallen into place, such as the "2000 Years of Drag" video for Refinery29 that I was featured in with Imp Queen, Lucy Stoole, Eva Young, Dorian Electra and The Vixen Tony. It reached over 2 million views and brought in tons of new fans. Also a week after I released Witch Hoe last summer, I met Jasmine Infiniti, flew out to The Bay Area and made my debut with New World Dysorder, a collective of trans creatives (DJs, producers, artists) and started curating events for the collective in The Bay, LA, Chicago and NYC.
You've been all over, from Miami to Chicago to NYC and back. How have these locations impacted the music?
One location impacted my new music the most: the Bay Area, specifically Oakland. Most of my EP was inspired by the deep, dark and magical experiences and people I have encountered in Oakland. Most of the "demon" references on the project were referring to some people I've met there. Miami was also magical, but more in a positive way. That's where I titled the EP. I had been in the darkness of the Bay for 3 months, and as soon as my body made it back into the Atlantic waters, everything lightened up. I had just moved in with my partner at the time, and things were really good. Unfortunately it became too much for me and I had to leave. I grew up in NYC, so it's honestly [had] the first huge impact on my music. I mean it's the home of hip-hip. Chicago is an intimate city for me. I have very close relationships with some of the most talented people in the Chicago scene, like David Davis from The Chanels, who freestyle battles with me almost regularly [and] teaches me how to dance.
How long did it take for you to complete Transcendent?
I started working on Transcendent in December. The first song that I wrote on it was "Cup," produced by demongay. It originally was featuring Jasmine Infiniti but due to timing, vocal complications and mixing, I couldn't use the featured version on the final project. We all were in the same room together when we wrote the song and a few days later it was a full track. We had so much fun writing cup. It was a great collab.
Production-wise, who did you work with on this project?
Jeremiah Meece is a friend of mine in Chicago, and we worked together last summer on a track I was going to put on the project, but scrapped last minute because I wanted to give it more time. Jeremiah is the sit down and get it done together type, which I totally love. The "Transcendent" beat was originally sent to Mykki Blanco I believe, but turns it out he didn't use it and it was meant for me. Bored Lord is a trans non-binary producer, who has worked with New World Dysorder in the past, and has some really dope sounds and interests in music. We recently met in the Bay Area after I had already released the project. I worked with Andy Milad in November on the "2000 Years of Drag" track with Dorian Electra in the studio doing vocals and mixing. He's an extremely talented producer/engineer. We would basically just drink wine and I would go crazy on the mic. He's really done so much for this project and I couldn't thank him enough.
What's the significance of the EP title, Transcendent?
The title Transcendent has many different meanings, but my point on this project is basically me stating that I'm literallyover it. In every way shape and form I am over the bullshit--the streets, the drama, the system, the transphobia. Over it. Above it. It's no secret what transwomen have to go through in life, society knows that. Even in a room full of stars, I feel like I am the sun. Big and mothafuckin bright--in your face as much as you may sometimes not like, but still giving you life. Its a very Leo project.
The project opens with "The Beast." Does it have special importance?
The project is about me being over it [and] "The Beast" is the most reactive to that subject. Though I do refer to myself as "The Beast" in the following track, "Hymn," it's kind of like a story, and it's even written in the artwork, how the project goes from dark to light. "The Beast" was basically me out-deviling all the demons who couldn't keep up off me. These negative people everywhere, it's like they form into one energy and I feel the need to react aggressively to that. It's definitely my most political track.
Is "Hymn" your anti-love song?
"Hymn" is my favorite song I've ever written. It's funny you say "anti-love song" because in a way it kind of is. It was really just about my relationship with God, or a God, but I mostly wrote this track as a threat to someone I was in love with, who turned out to be more evil than I would have expected. He thought he was more powerful than me, not only by body, but by soul. We are both Leos. He has a tattoo of a lion's head on one arm and a wolf's head on the other. I feel the need to express that I remain the head lioness [or] "The Beast" at all times, and I never slip out of character no matter how strongly held my composure is--no matter how much I'm in love.
"Cause when The Beast rise, and the sun dies, you wont howl at the moon." It's one huge twisted metaphor. Wolves are most powerful under the moon, but lions are always ready kill, day or night. By saying that he won't howl at the moon, is basically a threat that I'll easily win whatever battle he proposes, even on his strongest night. But the song does have cute moments referring to the things I loved about him. "Hate is just a shadow of love, where there is one, the other is sure to follow, and nothing is more powerful than the two combined"--a sample from the show Salem, which we watched together. He would sometimes say he didn't love me. Whether it was a joke or not, I know that I have both love and hate for him. So who wins in the end? Me.
How does your spirituality impact this project?
This project was more inspired by the Bible rather than witchcraft. "Hymn" is the track that really makes that spiritual statement, as well as the title track, "Transcendent." I'm definitely a bruja and always will be, but lately I've been popping into churches, feeling blessed and inspired by the "glory of God" and what that represents metaphorically.
What's the importance of releasing this project, right now?
Right now there is a lot going on in the country--also the world--but specifically the USA. Being that Trump is president and also the most hateful and ignorant bigot to ever be in office, this project is basically saying that he can't stop the girls. We are rising and shining more and more each and every time we stand up. Transwomen have definitely come a long way and are really breaking grounds within the media and entertainment industry and being that this project is so in your face and straight to the point, I hope that people really understand that there is no silencing us.
What happened to me and Jasmine was a tragedy. Being in a situation like that, on the brink of death, was un-fucking-called for. There should be no reason that trans women in 2017 shouldn't be able to walk around safely, without people trying it, calling us ugly names and harming us. It made me really, really mad. The community raised a pretty large amount of money for us both, as well as club collectives like the Bay Area's Club Chai, who curated a benefit at Mezzanine in San Francisco for me and Jasmine. All of the funds, love and communication from the community has really helped me a lot, although the PTSD will probably last a lifetime.
What are some effective, tangible ways the queer community and allies can support trans women of color?
Glorify us. Buy our art. Come to our shows. Help us with an uber and a meal every now and then. Gives us your eyes, ears and interest. We want to be supported, loved and seen for who we are and what we do. Let the world know how much we deserve the spotlight and what we have been doing to be in it.