New Artist With Soulful Hip Hop and Conscious Reverberations
Saba Jenga is an ambitious woman who left her hometown in Richmond, Virginia to pursue a career in music. She was determined to hone her craft with an educational foundation in New York City. She won the 2012 “Walk This Way Award” for Best MC at St. John’s University and following this she matriculated into the New York University, Clive Davis Institute of Recording Music. During her time of study, she coined a music style of her own called “Dirty Dub,” fusing various genres of music including dub, dubstep, reggae, trap and gogo. Saba Jenga evokes the “black girl magic” ensconced in a world with a European standard of beauty and oppression of minorities; through a culmination of cultures and sounds. We spoke to Saba, following a stellar performance at The Miss Lily’s 4/20 Celebration with International Selector, Yaadcore. More After The Jump…
Angel: Bless up Saba Jenga. That was a great performance at Miss Lily’s.
Saba Jenga: Bless up Angel. Yes I had a great time performing along side Yaadcore. The first part of my performance was a free flow over the classic “War” riddim from the Bob Marley song “War.” Then I performed two of my original songs, “Natty Gal” and “Bud Mon.”
(Photograph Above: Saba Jenga gives a lively performance alongside Yaadcore at The Miss Lily’s 4/20 Celebration)
Angel: The crowd was really receptive and responsive to your music. Tell me about the inspiration behind the first song you performed, “Natty Gal.”
Saba Jenga: I’m so comfortable with myself right now because nobody is doing what I’m doing. My sound is unique and I think that’s why people are really feeling it. I’ve had locks all my life and I remember growing up and feeling like people were perceiving me as rebellious and wild because of how I wore my hair.
I’ve also struggled with being a conscious individual in the world we live in. My rasta elders thought I showed too much skin and then my friends thought I was always preaching. I began to internalize all of this from a negative point of view. So I redefined “Natty” as what it means to me and broke it down to the acronym ‘Natural and True To Yourself.’
“Natural and True To Yourself/ Girl You Can Run The World/ They Can’t Regret/ Never Forget It/ I am a ‘Natty Gal’ ” (Video Directed by Femi Ige)
Angel: The crowd really appreciated that one, because you spoke about an afrocentric standard of beauty and of self-acceptance in general.
Saba Jenga: Exactly, when you define yourself, there is power in that! We as black women must look at ourselves in this positive light.
Angel: So true. Tell me about the song “Bud Mon.”
Saba Jenga: Me and my friends were chilling in a snowstorm trying to find “bud.” So you know, how your dealer sometimes has a crush on you, and as a woman you may have to play along with that to get what you need.
Angel: Womanly powers
Saba Jenga: Yeah women rarely have to pay for the herbz. So in this song, I talk about how your bud mon looks out for you cuz you got something he wants. You don’t want to mess up your connect. But you appreciate the appreciation.
Angel: Especially in a snowstorm
Saba Jenga: You feel me! So “Bud Mon” is a song about this.
Angel: I like your concept of black girl magic.
Saba Jenga: Thanks. I felt all the magical things that has happened to me, if anybody could speak on the powers of being a black woman I can. Despite it appearing as a trend, to me it’s synonymous with who I am as a woman, when I look in the mirror. Melanin is magic!
Despite it appearing as a trend, to me it’s synonymous with who I am as a woman, when I look in the mirror. Melanin is magic!-Saba Jenga
Angel: Love the video for “Just Begun” who was the handsome little prince?
Saba Jenga: The little prince is my brother, Nazyr, who was 5 at the time. He brought his own vibe to the video and it was so special to be with family on that shoot. The video was shot in Washington, D.C, by the recording artist Brother Kamau, Kamau Agyemen. He’s pretty popping now himself. That song is from my 2011 EP – “The Elevation Station”
Angel: Nice body of work on that EP, I enjoyed the storytelling aspect of “Chocolate Girl“- We mirrored lovers out of an Othello scene. Who influences your music?
Saba Jenga: My musical influences are Outkast, Lauryn Hill, Santigold and Sister Nancy.
Lauryn Hill is my role model. Her lyrical flow was so natural. What she did in terms of fusing her music with her intelligence and street consciousness is exactly what I aspire to do as an artist.
Angel: Have you met her yet?
Saba Jenga: No, but I can’t wait to because she has had a great impact on me and my music.
Angel: How would you describe your sound or style of music?
Saba Jenga: I just graduated from the New York University Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music in May 2016. I came here on a mission 8 years ago now from Virginia. My dream was to become an artist and that dream started working in my family’s record store in Washington, D.C. So while I was earning my degree, I created a new sound, which I call “Dirty Dub.” Dirty Dub is a combination of reggae, dubstep, trap and gogo to create a diaspora of sound. It has a lot of bass, the bass is turned up and it has a new, digital sound to it.
Angel: What’s next for you?
Saba Jenga: The release of my new EP this summer. I am super excited to come this point in my career.
Angel: Very exciting time. Thanks for sharing with Boomshots Magazine.
Saba Jenga: Thank you Angel, I will see you this summer at my album release party.
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