Back at the begging of the summer, right after I graduation, I took a post-grad trip disguised as a favor for the family: my sister’s basset hound was in Atlanta, and I was going to drive her up to New York. Good for me and good for her, but I never expected the trip to start out with me seeing one of my favorite rappers live, and I never expected that story to win over a valuable job contact.
It was the final day of the trip up, and I was driving though DC when I got a notification on Instagram. An old friend from college (Hi Jami) tagged me on the Instagram Poster for Westgay, and I F R E A K E D when I saw that Junglepussy was going to be performing. The New York rapper was a black power idol of my communication major friends back at Mississippi. and the thought that I could see her for 5$ blew my mind.
I had to go. From the busy poster the only thing that jumped out at me was “$5 B4 MIDNITE”. The mission was clear. I would get into Brooklyn around 9, grab a quick bite with my sister and her new husband, and hustle to wherever Westway was in the city to catch JP before the stroke of midnight like a 2014 queer retelling of Cinderella. Piece of cake.
Well predictably I totally get enthralled at dinner thanks to the charming company and then take wrong train TWICE on my way into the city. After S P R I N T I N G five blocks and forking over 5 dollars, I finally enter at 11:30. The place is so dark that I mistakenly fumble my way into the private VIP area before a security guard escorts me to the bar, where a total of 13 people loiter around the tables. After screaming ” WHERE IS JUNGLEPUSSY?!?!?!” over the music at a couple of strangers, I decided that I must have completely missed the show (remember that I thought it ended before 12). Dejected, I made my way back to the subway at 11:45 pm.
But hark!! after witnessing a dozen people walk past me, two dudes asked if I was looking for Westgay. After I remarked on how dead it was, they laughed and told me to pull up the poster on my phone. “See the five dollar entry stops at midnight, but the party goes way later.” I checked, and they were right. Was it possible that I could see JP after all? I walked back with my new friends.
By the time I got back to Westgay at 12:05, the place was almost unrecognizable. There was a 30 person line outside, and as Brooke Candy’s Opulence played as I walked in, I was greeted by a mass of people. Apparently in Manhattan, an near-empty room at 11:45 fills up to the seams at by 12:05. Just as this remix of Fancy came on the speakers, the curtains on a wall of the bar opened up, and the crowd funneled into this massive room twice the size of the bar. Suddenly I was in a warehouse where the DJ tower read WESTGAY in neon pink letters and male Gogo Dancers danced on a center stage in cutout jumpsuits emblazoned with smiley faces. Just a quiet Tuesday night out.
Junglepussy showed up about an hour and a half later. The rapper proved that the frank attitude she exhibits in her music isn’t limited to the booth or the stage: After the DJ introduced her she grabbed his mic to holler for a bottle of water. While performing on a stage previously occupied by two dudes seeing how many dollar bills they could stuff in their sheer bodysuits, it was clear there was a higher caliber of talent happening.
Unlike the dancers, Junglepussy didn’t pander to the audience. Even as she introduced herself as “the brown hottie with a body” her eyes never met anyone in the crowd. She strode back and forth, looking across the crowd, impressed by no one. Both onstage and in song, Junglepussy finds the fabled feminist space where she is both sexual and in control. While people groped at the dancers, no one dared break the force field that seemed to surround her.
Her verses and presentation have echos of Lil Kim, but Junglepussy combines her sexualized image with black power politics. Like many of the Club Kids watching her, Junglepussy was using her appearance to make political statements. Her beuaty is her own: she’s not trying to appease white beauty standards. Her black feminism is all about dispelling stereotypes by living authentically and publicly.
As she flipped her dreads over her shoulder, she previewed songs from her then unreleased album, featuring couplets like “what’s a girl to do when the world’s against you? Throw it in their face let em know that you meant to” (“Me”) and “Am I a thot for loving Ciroc? Gucci or not I’m a G cuz I got. All. My. Hot girls with me and we dance around and bounce those titties” (“Bling Bling”). That’s dispelling slut shaming, dismantling the capitalist idea that material goods grant you higher status, and promoting sisterhood. Preach it JP.
Throughout the show I got the sense that she had outgrown this venue. Her songs and charisma deserve a better sound system and a more attentive crowd. As she called Dai Burger and a friend to the stage to dance while she performed Bling Bling, I counted my stars that I was so lucky to see her.
At the end of the week, I was at a BBQ that my sister was throwing, raving to everyone about my night and how great Junglepussy was. One woman couldn’t stop laughing, and said “that’s exactly the kind of thing you should being doing right out of college. Living life and gathering interesting stories and experiences, because that’s what will make employers sit up and take notice.” After replying that I hoped she was right, and telling some other story about how I witnessed a woman drop her panties and pee on the street in front of me, she threw me a lifeline. “Do you wanna intern for me” she asked laughing.
After a summers worth of emails, here I am flying out to NYC this Sunday to intern for Missy Farren & Associates. I’m super nervous and documenting the entire experience here, so check back if you want more stories like this one.
As far as Junglepussy goes, she just released a new video for her song “Nah”. In it, she balances the role of spiritual guru with bad bitch rapper: baptizing people with coconut water, doing the sexy car wash thing, being fed asparagus, and making a seat out of a white girl. The best moments come when she’s rolling down the street in a shopping cart, surrounded by friends holding signs extolling virtues like gratitude, hygiene, and of course, wealth (the spiritual kind I’m sure). Check it out below.