Brooklyn rapper Junglepussy has a system for social-media-spying on a crush: “I do two scrolls and then I’m out.” Sometimes this means two short scrolls; sometimes this means two long scrolls, but no matter what, “It’s never good,” she says. “It’s such a bad little drug. You know he’s not gonna have a fucking selfie of you posted. It’s not gonna have, ‘Oh, where are you?’ No. Don’t look.” This kind of access to the object of your affection is one of the things the East New York artist has been deftly rapping about since she landed in 2013. And on her first proper full-length, the Shy Guy–produced Pregnant With Success (which was released in November digitally and on a clever, key-shaped USB drive that she assembled herself), the nuances of balancing emotional needs and late-night texts are further explored. There are lines about eggplant prints and casual but meaningless couple-selfies on Instagram, as well as the defeat of finding out someone you thought was cute is actually a lame after reading their Twitter. She credits social media for helping to boost awareness of her music, but its pitfalls within modern dating predominate in her lyrics.
This is not to say that her album doesn’t cover a bevy of other topics. JP is also known for rapping about self-care, healthy eating — which she spoke about December 9 at Columbia University — and general flexing, but when we talk right after Success’s release, the absolute bummer that is the state of dating in New York City is what we powwow about. “It’s so bad,” she says. “It’s weird to love! Nobody wants to be romantic; nobody wants to be nice and fall in love and get to know someone. People just wanna find somebody who they think is poppin’ and latch onto them for a little while before they go on to the next person they think can do something for them. It’s just so sad.”
This theme bleeds into one of the record’s standout tracks. “Pop for You” is a lament on men who spend too much time seeking approval from their peers about who they date and how they dress. What is especially noteworthy about the song is a spoken interlude where she says, “You wanna know what turns me on? I knew this one thoughtful motherfucker…. This dude, dead ass, took me to the zoo… .Last n***a bought me leopard-print lingerie. I got n***as taking me to see live animals and you pull up with animal prints?” This is more of a metaphor than an exaltation of creative dates — although, the zoo is a great one — and highlights the lack of effort that now goes into getting to know someone when so much information about a person is accessible before you go out with them. “When guys hear my name and they know I like animal prints and all that, they just take everything so literal and don’t dig deep in the layers,” she says. “Nobody wants to get to know who I am. The difference between, like, you [wanting to] get me leopard-print lingerie because my name is Junglepussy or [you think] that this pussy is for you, so you wanna get me some leopard-print shit to prance around in? No. As opposed to this other person who hears ‘Junglepussy’ and says, ‘I wanna take her to the zoo. I want her to be in nature enjoying these creatures.’ It’s just about being more personal than being mad fucking fake and literal and just not being human.”
Fear of one’s humanity, or at least human feelings, is another thing that Junglepussy believes is a hindrance to dating. “Guys, they get their heart broken or whatever one time and they’re done. Women, we will get our hearts broken and still be optimistic, still have love in our heart, still be nice people, still want more for ourselves. It’s all possible,” she says. “[Men] have this one experience that traumatizes them, where we be going through mad shit that traumatizes us and we still out here believing we can have a family and be married and still be successful women. That’s a big dream to have. They just wanna get money and do what with it? They’re gonna be lonely old wealthy men just picking up young people and it’s gonna be sad.” Part of this problem, we both agree, is the misconception that doing well for yourself and dating can’t go hand-in-hand. “Now everybody just wants to be successful, which is a good thing, but they’re forgetting love is not a distraction,” she says. “If it’s a distraction, it’s not love. If you find somebody who is doing their thing, you have your thing you’re doing, what’s wrong with you guys being together and having your professional life? It’s very possible.”
Still, the album touches on indulging your carnal instincts without any shame. “Only Way” celebrates rough sex, and on “Get to Steppin’ ” it’s even clearer, kicking off with the lyrics, “If your face ain’t a sittin’ place/Fuck up out o’ my face.” There’s a push-and-pull at play. If you are going to navigate this entire mess, there is no reason not to require both emotional and day-to-day satisfaction (like she addresses on “Nothing for Me”), as well as having your needs met during a casual tryst. When asked if she feels men are intimidated by someone who not only takes care of herself but is open about needing care — both emotionally and sexually — in return, she says, “[Men] don’t want that because they just can’t wrap their head around it. Anything that takes the attention or shows equality across whatever, they’re just not with it. The conversation [about equality] is being brought up a lot, and that’s very important and beautiful, but [there are] guys out there who are always going to be douchebags,” she says. “Growing up, I saw all the strong, successful women around me, especially black women — Oprah, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry — [but] when Chilli got cheated on by Usher, it just blew my mind. Nobody prepared me. Nobody told me that if you’re a great, successful woman and you do all these things for yourself, guys are still gonna be horrible. They should have warned me!”
So how does that conversation change? “I always hope that I can somewhat help with the shift,” she says. “I’ma need mad help from everybody who supports me and everybody who feels this way, too, but I feel like Junglepussy can show that.” Her stints as a guest of Columbia’s Society of Hip-Hop and a previous lecture at Yale back in October already prove she’s making great strides, and not just in crafting anthemic missives like 2014’s “Fuck Texting” or the instructive Success cut “Country Boy.” Her output has the potential to be largely influential, not just on sexual equality, but on the merits of getting good feta at Trader Joe’s and that New York rap hasn’t been completely laid to rest. Her positivity is particularly apparent on her Twitter feed, as well, where she dishes out cap-locks aphorisms like “SILLY HOE STILL EATING GMOS” and “HATE TO LEAVE, LOVE TO MOVE FORWARD,” plus pictures of grocery store hauls and juice. Check it out for yourself — and make sure your two scrolls are long ones.