Jay Boogie is a new artist on Jesus Loves Me Too, spitting wisdom that only comes from someone who's lived an authentic life and willfully witnessed the world. The Brooklyn rapper's enlightening mixtape reads like a daily devotion, but rides like a ferocious Boogie banger, bringing together his Church and Ballroom backgrounds across nine explosive tracks.
Religious references recall Boogie's Catholic upbringing, starting with gospel singer Kim Burrell's feature on "Intro," where she sings "Jesus Loves You" amidst alluring purs and violent, thrashing synths. It's a dynamic segue into the mixtape's candid inspirational rants, from Boogie's mom reminding you to "follow your dreams" and "put that fucking phone down," to the rapper himself encouraging listeners to "live your truth and get your loot."
But these serious undertones never overshadow Boogie's brazen cockiness, as he flings lyrics charged with self-confidence throughout. "I was gifted with the ability to kill my enemies by just being me," he flaunts on the Ahsh Eff-assisted, Flex Lang-produced "Oh My." And on mixtape highlight, "No Shits," Boogie repeats the hilarious chant, "I pull up like my shit don't stink," above production that sounds as delightfully bitchy as his words.
Listen to Jesus Loves Me Too, and learn more about the international emcee in an exclusive OUT chat, below.
Jay Boogie: What’s up, boo?
OUT: How’s it going? Where are you?
I’m in Berlin, right now. I can’t even leave my house because it’s fucking raining. It’s like pissing from the sky—the most annoying little drizzle. I’m here to promote for a month. I’m gonna hit up a few places, and do some radio and shows. But then I come back to Europe in October for a proper tour.
Do you like Berlin?
Yeah, it's cool. Obviously being away from home, there’s something exotic about it. When I actually try to connect, I’m still working on that. I’m like wait, what do y’all really do? I feel like either our generation here is zombied out from partying so hard, like literally dragging or you’re in school. There’s no in-between.
I’ll have to go.
You do have to go. That’s the thing, every place deserves a visit in the world. That’s my theory. I spent a good amount of time at home in New York, focusing on the mixtape. I just had to say no to a few things because if not, I would just be bouncing around and not finishing anything. And New York doesn’t really do it for the girls anymore, so you have to get out.
Well, let’s talk about mixtape. Where a lot of artists promise their projects will be “inspirational,” I think you’ve really nailed it—mostly because your lyrics are so literal.
Yeah, that’s really my thing—there’s no need to code it. If that’s what you really mean, that’s what you really mean.
It's kind of like Daily Devotions.
[Laughs] Yes, the Daily Digest.
What’s the story behind the title, Jesus Loves Me, Too?
It’s just a fact that I am aware of—an epiphany, growing up as anything besides the shoe that fits in the box. You’re always told if you don’t do it this way, then you risk the chance of being a child of some high being. If you don’t fit the mold, then that’s it. But it’s almost impossible for this spiritual figure to be so unconditional about everything else, but when it comes to me being gay, that’s the big issue. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, a lot of Catholic religious women would be like Jesus loves you, meaning you’re not suppose to be doing this, but it's ok, I’m gonna pat you on your shoulder. I just came to the conclusion that, Yeah bitch, I’m very aware. I know I’m highly favored. I think it’s one of those things I had to say to myself because, even as an adult, I can go to any setting on any day, and someone will try to convince me otherwise.
Are you a religious person today?
I’m spiritual and believe in my own religion, so in that sense, yeah. But in the orthodox fashion, not really. I was raised Catholic.
The cover art certainly has religious references. What were you hoping to accomplish visually?
I wanted to reference all the women I’ve seen in New York going to church, so that’s like Jehovah's Witness, Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, Southern Baptists and Catholics. If you got to Harlem or in the middle of Brooklyn, Sunday is a big deal for a lot of these women. They pull out their best. So that’s what I tried to emulate in the hair and the suit. It’s a little bit of pastor, a little bit of priest, but, of course I always gravitate towards femininity as strength, so I wanted to interpret it in that way—the girly side of it.
Your mom is featured giving advice on the second track, “Venti.” What has she taught you about strength and femininity?
She was a single mother in our neighborhood and I’ve seen her get shit at any cost necessary regardless of how somebody may feel or how somebody may perceive her. She was always factual—regardless of how you feel, this is what it is. She solved all the issues that way and it’s been working for me so far.
You’ve said before that you lead life with a “single mother” mentality. Tell me more about that.
They have to have it for us, so that’s why I’ve managed to cultivate a selfless attitude for the people who believe in me and follow me. Regardless of whatever does down, I have to do this for my kids. And I can’t let my kids know that I’m struggling or stressed out or panicking or in a frenzy. I think that’s what rubbed off on me. I take a lot of responsibility for my work.
After your mom’s advice in “Venti,” I love that synth-pop breakdown. It’s perfect.
In production, I called it the “Paris DJ Break.” I feel like it’s something that Paris would play at the end of her set. [Laughs]
The last time we talked in spring 2016, you were in the recording studio. What happened in-between then and Jesus Loves Me Too?
The beauty of being independent is that you can have as many changes as you want and just process on your own accord. I was gearing up for a different type of compilation at that moment, but I can't say that it didn’t all came from the same place. Anytime I make music, I’m just like, I know I need to get stuff off of my chest and I need to share this with people that believe in me because they’re relying on me. So it was all coming from the same place, but sonically, I don’t think any of that made the final cut. It’s still beautiful because it’s all in the archive.
On your first project, you worked exclusively with Flex Lang. Now you’ve collaborated with a full lineup. What’s your process working with them?
A lot of it is working with producers one-on-one and that’s really the most beautiful thing about this project. I think that’s why some people so far are telling me, Oh my god, you sound so different. People are taking my voice and doing what they feel makes sense, as opposed to just going through one channel. When you work with one or two producers, half the time they have a preset for you and just send you through that channel. This time around, I got to work with different producers, not only at home, but on my travels too. I really got to sit with people and take my shoes off and lounge in the studio. That made it really, really intense for me. I also wrote a lot of it in my car.
I love how you’re always driving in your car on Instagram live.
[Laughs] Yeah, that’s one of those sanctuaries. Being a New Yorker and owning a vehicle—it’s a thing. I take a lot of pride in my little car and I’m just in it and feel indestructible.
Did you work internationally with producers on this mixtape?
Yes, so two of my favorite songs are “Happy” and “1,000” by these producers called Modulaw. It’s two guys based in Zurich, Switzerland and they live in a mansion on top of mountain somewhere. They welcomed me to their home after they saw me perform and I was like, Little old me? That’s the independent mindset. I didn’t feel ready because I’m used to taking time for myself to write, but I was like, I can’t say no to somebody who’s welcomed me into their house. But they made me so comfortable. They were like strip down, there’s the microphone, I’ll just press record. For the first time in my recording history, I made a one-take record without any revisiting it. No edits, one take. It was a moment.
I love those tracks. One of your biggest strengths is the ability to make a fire hook. “No Shits” has the best bitchy, chanty hook.
[Laughs] Yes, that was definitely the fucking goal. I just want people to feel okay about being selfless. Like that’s an actually okay thing if you consume it properly—that attitude, you know.
Are you interested in mainstream success?
I don’t and I can’t say that I ever did because I really enjoy the personal touch and being on my feet. I don’t like the idea of becoming a fixture that people see, but don’t really get to feel. I have too many regular dreams and aspirations that I feel like if I went that route, I would be completely detached and my work would become desensitized. I’ve managed to do things for myself and my career that a mainstream rapper can probably do, but I get the time to satisfy my own needs. The theory is that if I want a million dollars, I would get a million dollars. But I’ve seen what a million dollars can do, so I don’t want a million dollars. Like a typical rapper might have a BMW with an intense four package, but I also have a BMW and it works for me and I bought it with my money from my shows. It’s too much girl, it’s just unnecessary.
I think it’s important to check in with yourself about what success means to you. It’s different for everybody.
And another thing with mainstream success, and especially for a rapper, is there’s always going to be the girl on top of you and there’s always going to be the girl on top of that girl and then you’re going to spend your career and life trying to up the next bitch and the next bitch. That ladder is just too much. Now I just feel like I can do all the things I want to do, not that I need to or have to do.
There are references to fitness on Jesus Loves Me Too. Is health still a priority for you?
Absolutely. I’m gonna take care of the body, that’s the brand. But I haven't had the luxury to capture everything anymore. My whole process when I’m working on a project is, first I conceive the child, which is like making the music and gathering the beats. Then I’m pregnant, so I do my nine months. Then I come up with the packaging and concept, which is like my sonogram and then it’s the baby shower. That’s when I send it to my friends to preview. And then I give birth, which is right now. So I’m getting rid of my baby fat.