There’s a clamour as Steven Tyler exits the stage of New York’s Radio City Music Hall. She has been nominated for many best new artist of the year awards and has won the Juno Award for Breakthrough Artist.
jessie reyez brooklyn steel – 2018 Breakthrough Artist
If you are a casual listener to pop radio you have probably heard the song Figures. After graduating from the program, music was finally a full-time career for Reyez, and three years later, she released her first EP, Kiddo. The seven-song EP is an honest look into the singer’s life experiences of heartache, highlighted by the emotional ballad Figures.” The song is the perfect encapsulation of Reyez’s craft. Honest, powerful and catchy, Reyez’s smoky voice describes the tale of a past failed relationship, however, it’s not the typical song of heartache as Reyez repeats, I wish I could hurt you back,” to her ex-lover throughout the song.
REYEZ: I love the juxtapositions that he plays with when it comes to these gory, gory scenes with some crazy classical music behind it, or when it’s the complete opposite. Or just colors, themes, and storylines—everything about it. It’s so romantic and at the same time so violent. It’s crazy. I purposely try to make my music cinematic. I try to inspire visuals even though I’m only an instrument of sound. It’s just music, so it’s just going through your ears, but if there’s no visual component, if you’re not watching the music video, I like being able to inspire, to be able to give whoever is listening something in their mind so that they start seeing visuals. And make it cinematic, and that kind of romantic, violent juxtaposition that Tarantino does so often.
This rawness begins with the opening track, aptly titled Fck It.” On this song, Jessie discusses the anger which comes after a difficult breakup, a theme continued throughout the release. The production here is extremely sparse, doing wonders to put Jessie’s voice front-and-centre. Lyrics such as You’re lucky I didn’t blow your brains out” serve as an uncompromising display of Jesse’s aggression. The next song, however, is a lyrical and tonal 360, as a vulnerable Jessie scratches and cries her way through the emotional drain of an unhealthy relationship. Her vocal performance is a revelation and illustrates her range and diversity.
The 27-year-old Toronto native returns with Body Count,” an acoustic anthem filled with not-so gentle reminders that the sex lives of women aren’t up for debate. It’s about body count, like your kills: who have you slept with, who have you fucked, and about how sometimes in this society as females we don’t have as much freedom to be proud of that without having to be shamed or criticized for it,” she tells Noisey. Crowning it an anti-shame, anti-judge anthem,” is fitting as she belts I dodge dick on the daily,” over guitar strings. Body Count” picks up the baton where Kiddo left off, and Reyez isn’t done being relentless in her truth.
Sex Talk,” the album’s lead single, is a showcase for Megan’s bars. I’ma bust quick if your lips soft,” she raps in short bursts around distorted bass and snaps. Rock that ship ‘til ya blast off.” In her second verse, she accents the offbeat to boast, I should be in museums because this body a masterpiece.” Though the song’s popularity was eclipsed by the video release for last summer’s more bombastic Big Ole Freak,” it’s a fitting introduction to Thee Stallion: her range of staccato to elongated flows is catnip for heads like her who grew up on freestyle DVDs, paired with a blown out beat riding the minimalist wave that’s subsumed parties across the country.
It definitely made my skin thicker … Time’s more valuable than money and to fight to make a stranger stop for 10 seconds was difficult,” Reyez said about her time performing music on the beaches of South Florida.
So important, so crucial. I mean, for me, it’s incredible that people do it without that. That’s admirable, that’s crazy. For me, I feel like I had an ally, having those day one’s be like, okay, that’s what you wanna do, okay.” My mom was even the kind to like, I didn’t want to go to school for it. I just didn’t think that going to school for music was going to affect me. I always that it’s who you know and all that shit, so I was like, No, I just gotta keep hustling.” But my mom was like, Go to school for music!” And I was like, Nah, I gotta go for Kinesiology, or English, or something tangible.” Cause that’s what you’re given since you’re a child, that idea that you need to have something, sturdy, you need to have this, you need to have that. But I had my mom in my ear, telling me, if you wanna go, go headfirst. Blessings.
I listened to a lot of Bob and Amy, growing up. Otis Redding, Beyonce, Carlos Vives, and then the Colombian stuff, Celia Cruz, so I feel like all of that contributed. I was an awful singer when I was younger, but I practiced. I’ve known what I wanted since I was a kid, so just ‘cause I wasn’t good wasn’t gonna deter me. But it really me, to meet people along the way who bothered to see that little bit of potential. Tyse Saffuri, from Toronto- I auditioned for this girl group when I was like 17, and I went in there with my guitar and my shitty-fuckin’-voice and shitty runs, and did it.
No fucking way. The way it happened was just really organic too. He just hit me like, yo Figures” is doing really dope. People in the industry are excited about you. We weren’t at a million views yet, we were just at a little bit of buzz. So when he said that, I was like man, thank you. Then we talked a little more and he was like yeah, I’m working on something, before anyone knew about Funk Wav, you should come out to LA, we should work. Flew me and my manager out and then we got to work. It was only supposed to be a one day thing and then we got together and the vibe was sick and it turned into a few days and I ended up flying back and it turned into a week. Now it’s turned into just working a lot.
Having already laid verses on the icon Romeo Santos’ retro bop, “Un Vuelo A La,” Reyez admits, “Anytime I see a Latinx winning, I can’t help but feel happy, too,” and unapologetically owning her identity has proven to serve her exceptionally. Reyez snatched the crown on her stomping grounds at the 2018 Juno Awards for Breakthrough Artist, and the serenader remains enthusiastic about vibrantly representing women of color. “I see growing representation. It’s so important for that to be visible ’cause that’s the only time little kids can view and think, ‘It’s not so fking rare, or different. I don’t feel alone,'” she says.
Banking such esteemed acclaim, in addition to her mounting global TV transmissions and an unflinchingly committed work ethic, the time is undeniably ripe for a debut album to fully establish Jessie Reyez as a searing soul siren for our times. She is, frustratingly, tight-lipped on the subject, demurely evading my appeal to know when that might arrive, but one thing she’s loud and clear on is her objective for what the album should be.
We were supposed to do it at one church but once it hit the media, they got a lot of pushback and they pulled out. We found a Catholic church so repurposed it for the mass. We didn’t know who was going to show up until that night because the church only held about 350 people. Let’s just say we broke some fire codes both nights.
Jessie Reyez ‘s recently-released EP Being Human In Public proves that the Toronto musician’s fiery exterior comes with a cool, introspective center. Her 2017 EP Kiddo introduced her to the world as force who was willing to go there” by singing about major issues like sexual assault and emotionally abusive relationships. This time around, Reyez muses about the softer side of love, displaying her flexibility within the overarching theme.
Jessie was born to Reyez” Colombian family but hasn’t revealed her parents’ information officially. However, Jessie grew up surrounded by music and was interested in pursuing it as a career. Her father as an inspiration for singing Colombian boleros and playing acoustic guitar. She moved with her family to Brampton.
While passing her offstage, the legend whispered “You’re great” to the uber-emotional starlet and kissed her hand for confirmation, causing a viral stir. “That sht was nuts. Steven Tyler came up to me, and it was just so unexpected. Dude, I can’t even,” Reyez laughs , now settled on a piano bench at the VIBE office. She unravels her bun and kicks a pair of white Under Armour slides towards me, to better seat herself with her legs crossed. A dense crown of waves tumbles from atop her thickly arched brows to below the waistline of her cutoff Wrangler shorts. One thing is clear: Reyez’s beauty is as effortless as the likely success of her soon-to-release EP, Being Human in Public and its 29-date North American tour.
Well, Reyez is a powerhouse in her own right, and whatever help she’s getting, she deserves it. The major-label system is teeming with artists churning out generic bullshit, lunging at whatever trend is popping that week, sacrificing their identity in the hopes of scoring a hit. Reyez has avoided that trap and cultivated a contagious sense of self. Sorting through mediocre track after mediocre track is wearisome, so when a voice like hers comes bursting through the speakers backed by such richly conceived music, it’s a real sunshine-through-clouds moment. Such a convergence of talent and personality is rare. Reward it with your attention, and you’ll end up rewarding yourself in the process.
This may seem like wiredrawing, but it’s not in the context of an album that primarily centers on dealing with drug addiction. Jimmy Lee pulls its greatest strengths from subconscious connections because to be an addict is to be a magician, an assassin, and a poet all at once. To say that to be an addict is to be a liar is to absolve and ignore that we are all liars, both to ourselves and to others. To put addiction in terms of the upfront costs that an addict thinks about (the price of acquiring the vice) ignores the collateral taxes of the masks and perfumes used to cover our tracks, and—ultimately—the tolls of severed relationships, broken families, missed opportunities, hurt people left behind.
From her early beginnings participating in youth arts incubator The Remix Project to playing sold-out tours, Toronto-raised Jessie Reyez has emerged as one of Canada’s most talented singer-songwriters. Known for both heart-on-sleeve ballads and searing critiques of sexism in the music industry, she’s collaborated with artists including 6lack, Eminem, Tory Lanez, and Normani, and won Breakthrough Artist at the 2018 Juno Awards. To close out this year’s Red Bull Music Festival Toronto, she’ll perform fan favourites and new music at the intimate, historic Winter Garden Theatre, with special guests not to be missed.
There’s much to love on this EP, from the tight-knit production to Jessie’s soulful vocal performances. Some of her lyrics could do with less of a reliance on overdone sentimentality and balladic cliches — particularly on the final track, Great One,” where Jessie laments that Everything is nothing without you.” However, the lyricism of such standouts as Shutter Island” and Gatekeeper” more than make up for these lowlights. Kiddo is Jessie Reyez’s debut release, aptly titled to represent her first child,” as she claims on Twitter. And if this EP is any evidence of what is to come, I can surely say that it is going to be a good one.
Spreading the gospel in today’s world comes with a creative gamble. There are those who still take to streets with hugs and messages from the Bible and there are others who have found ways to include today’s biggest artists into scripture. Insert Beyoncé Mass, a church service mixed with inspirational songs from the Grammy-winning singer.
It uses womanist theories to highlight the realities of black women. It’s a term that pulls inspiration from Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens and with that, I used womanist theological theory to frame for my students the issues black women face and how we encounter the Bible. In particular, I used that theory to inform conversations about the music and persona of Beyoncé so that we can talk about the issues black women face. We’re talking about respectability politics, the commodification of the body, sexuality, motherhood and relationships because all these things are very real to black women. Then we build from that to talk about how all of these issues show up in the Bible.
Music always felt like home,” Reyez told me over the phone. Reyez’s voice contains flashes of some of music’s most unique artists, with Amy Winehouse and Macy Gray coming to mind, but the Toronto native has crafted a sound that is all her own.
Jessie released her critically acclaimed debut EP ‘Kiddo’ in 2017. Caption: Jessie Reyez with an American singer-songwriter, Romeo Santos. There are few artists who can fill an empty room in an uncut music video. We can think of Alanis Morrisette, D’Angelo… and Jessie Reyez.
After graduating from the program, music was finally a full-time career for Reyez, and three years later, she released her first EP, Kiddo. The seven-song EP is an honest look into the singer’s life experiences of heartache, highlighted by the emotional ballad Figures.” The song is the perfect encapsulation of Reyez’s craft. Honest, powerful and catchy, Reyez’s smoky voice describes the tale of a past failed relationship, however, it’s not the typical song of heartache as Reyez repeats, I wish I could hurt you back,” to her ex-lover throughout the song.
Her forthright openness last year took the shape of ‘Gatekeeper’, which graphically recounted in verbatim the sexually predative threats she received from a famed producer. All this time later, despite channeling her ordeal on paper and furthering the #MeToo movement by enabling the spotlight to be shone on sexism in the music industry, sadly, while offenders and accusations continue to rack up in disgusting regularity, there’s unlikely to be any conclusion to the trauma she suffered.
Born in 1991, Jessie Reyez is a Canadian singer and guitarist who garnered fame through her music scene in 2016 with her debut single Figures.” The song peaked at no. 58 on the Canadian Hot 100 and was the public’s first taste of her debut EP, Kiddo.
She recently released a new track called Far Away,” a love song accompanied with a moving music video that depicts two lovers unable to be together as they are separated by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.