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Jada Imani’s New EP “Saline” Is a Plea To Stay Soft in a World So Harsh

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In a cruel world that praises us for being detached, stoic, and cold – Jada is calling for the soft, sensitive, and gentle to rise. 

Jada Imani has worked meticulously over the years to not only carve out her own name when it comes to being recognized as an up and coming MC, representing the Bay – but she has also proved that her morals and heart lies in nurturing and uplifting the community of talented artists in the Bay area through the act of collaboration.

Of course, Jada has felt the jab that the pandemic has left on this community of flourishing artists in the Bay area. Their community that they have grown over the years now is being separated – at least in the physical realm for the time being during this period of isolation. 

Jada has felt the gaping hole in which the absence of the tradition of collaboration – of gathering together in shared spaces to make music with like-minded artists across the Bay has had on their community during this quarantine. The art of basking in one another’s energy and vision is being profoundly missed, but all is not lost. 

Jada Imani, through the way she has witnessed her life and community shapeshift accordingly in response to the pandemic, is not backing down when it comes to the continuation of maintaining the sacred traditions that they worked so hard over the past years to cultivate.

That is why Jada has recently announced what she likes to call “First Friday” – in which every first Friday of the month she will drop a three track project in collaboration with a different producer hailing from the Bay area. November was the first month to christen and light the candle of past traditions to be carried on in these trying times. 

Jada teamed up with producer Smooveez for the first EP, “Saline” – to be in solidarity with her and kick off this first Friday tradition. Jada announces in the introduction to this EP that, “Every first Friday, for a few years, we got together with emerging artists in the Bay Area. Throughout those years we did connect and build with hundreds of artists and thousands of supporters on some grassroots stuff – we did not do it for the gram, we did it for the town.”

Photo Credit to Bandcamp

Jada is making it crystal clear her intentions of not only why they started this first Friday tradition but the beautiful impact it has had on the community – and why it deserves and needs to be upheld. It wasn’t for attention or praise, but to solely giveback and amplify the voices of these upcoming artists in the Bay area. 

Smooveez’s sound and style matches exactly the vibe that his name suggests – his beats take inspiration from smooth jazz, infused with saxophone riffs with a heavy nod to soul and R&B influences. This emphasis on slowing down the track that Smooveez’s beats demand, and this desire for the abundance of time that we have been gifted these days to be handled with delicate care is birthing a new sound to rap – spiritually enlightened and emotionally aware, “soft rap.”

Jada, in the first intro track to this EP, “First Friday,” not only set her intentions when it comes to why she cultivated this tradition in the first place, but what barriers she wishes to break down when it comes to the contextualization of rap as a genre.

Over the years, we have finally begun to chip away at seeing more female representation in the rap community. Often rap is seen as a space that welcomes aggression in the form of free expression. Anger is often an emotion that we as a society shame ourselves for feeling – but rap has always been a space where that feeling can be honored and truly felt.

But rap also speaks to love, to sadness, to loss, to confidence, to happiness. In a genre like rap that allows for some of the freest expressions to be released into the world – Jada’s intention behind her music is to usher in a wave of softness, one that pays homage to the quiet strength of vulnerability.

Jada invites us into this expression of honoring vulnerability in the introduction as well. “Learning to break down any barriers of expectations or lies that we’ve been told to keep us small and in control. We gon’ break out, becoming more vulnerable with each track, so I hope you go on this journey with me.”

The second track off the EP, “Open Up,” speaks to the ways in which this sense of emotional detachment or rather lack of being willing or feeling allowed to express vulnerable emotions seems to be growing rapidly in our intimate relationships. In this track, Jada opens the door for frustration to be expressed, that sense of desperation for truth and closeness to come forth – for the declaration of love to not be met with fear. 

She sings, “ I came here to see you. Why your lips is closed? Open up to me, I can hear your soul.” 

This lack of deep connection, this growing craving for emotional secrets to be shared and spilled is communicated in this track in such a gentle way. Jada utilizes the raspy, gritty – and yet, simultaneously satin silk quality of her voice in order to get her point across. 

The last track off the project, “Stay Soft,” features a groovy saxophone that fills up the track like passing clouds. This track is soft in the loudest way possible – the perfect re-configuration of how the world has previously perceived what embodying softness looks and sounds like. 

Jada is bringing back quiet strength, unveiling not only the power that comes with bearing your softness to the world – but this idea that being able to even merely embody softness in a very cruel, harsh world is in itself a miraculous wonder. As Jada would say, STAY SOFT! Also, be on the lookout for every first Friday of the month to expect a drop from Jada Imani. Help support this First Friday tradition to be maintained and cherished. 

Maddy Ipema
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