Jesswar - TROPIXX (REVIEW)
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
Earlier this month rapper Jesswar released what has to be one of the strongest EPs in Australian hip-hop in 2021. The MC, who is currently Meanjin-based, has built up a devastating repertoire for uncompromising lyricism over the years and it is something we’ve undoubtedly seen already in the singles released ahead of this EP.
Whilst undeniably Jesswar and her music have evolved over time, the fire and tenacity which stirred her earlier artistry is still devastatingly present. What I have always found particularly admirable about Jesswar is her uncanny ability to maintain a composed, seemingly nonchalant confidence and yet still have one of the hardest rap deliveries in Australian hip-hop.
‘Hit Em With Bass’ ft Kobi Spice
‘Hit Em With Bass’ epitomises Jesswar’s defiance in abundance, evoking a solidarity with the close contingent of female artists around her as she states; “All my women give me face, all these rappers they ain’t safe”. From there, Melbourne’s Kobi Spice is the perfect complement to Jesswar’s ominous bars, as she hits the listener with an audacious attitude that is made to hook you in. Consistent throughout the whole track is a fiery, industrial-esque electronic bass which ignites every stinging bar from Jesswar & Kobi, making for an impressive start to this blistering EP.
From the introduction to ‘Laylow’ onwards you are treated to a measured, brooding escalation by Jesswar and Noah Harvey’s production, though, Jesswar’s lyrics throughout the track speak to the fact that nothing is slowing her down in the pursuit of success. However, she remains the self-aware rapper we know, as she spouts lines like “the first one to say cunt on Triple J” with cheek and humour. It is in the track’s final verse where Jesswar delivers upon the moody build-up, hitting listeners with dynamic bar after dynamic bar signaling her intent to bring the energy no matter what.
‘Medusa’ is a commanding presence of a song, with the production from Dopant Beats & Papertoy oozing a combative, badass energy that is equal parts contagious and exhilarating. The track is a rallying call to not just her community, but women and people everywhere who are marginalised and diminished. The lyrics “We coming for the checks, we coming for the paper” are followed by a powerful reissuing of Apache’s infamous call-and-response lyrics (“Take money money, take money money money”) to let the world know that Jesswar is taking what she knows is rightfully her and her people’s.
In contrast to the rest of the EP, ‘Saucy’ is a track which opts to take things back a notch. However, this is not to say that the song lacks the punch of other tracks, on the contrary it presents a version of Jesswar who has come to terms with her frustrations and has simply embraced true self-confidence, devoid of the need to prove her worth to others. A delightful combination of subtle keys and a staggered drum loop run throughout the song, providing Jesswar with the perfect platform to reminisce on those who have denied her the opportunities she deserved.
‘Venom’ is a barrage of unconstrained self-assurance that is the hallmark of an artist who is making music that is true to them. The track is a combination of ferociously untamed beats and Jesswar’s piercing flow that cuts right through any of the doubts and assuaging she has had to put up with over the years. ‘Venom’ represents Jesswar coming to terms with frustration by being cognizant of the fact that we are the masters of our own future, and nobody has the right to tell us otherwise.
Jesswar’s flow on the EP’s final track, ‘XXL’, stands out immediately. Instantly, the MC’s tenacious delivery grabs a hold of you and never relents in an effort to send you off with one final emphatic message; no matter the magnitude of your personal demons you are empowered to take a risk to change your life for the better. ‘XXL’ encapsulates so much as a culmination to this inspiring EP, ultimately though it is the truest reflection of Jesswar and where she is at in her life and career at the moment. Fundamentally, despite the frustrations of the past still existing, there is nothing holding her back anymore. We cannot wait to see where her music takes her next.
Jesswar’s music has always placed importance on kinship not just in her own community, but with the women around her, particularly in an industry where she has found herself consistently overlooked. Jesswar’s refusal to be let down by her frustrations with hip-hop’s embedded traditions and stereotypes regarding a woman’s pursuit of music is powerful, and it is a facet which drives her music. ‘TROPIXX’ as an EP is a testament to not just Jesswar’s self-awareness and authenticity, but her finding consolation in self-acceptance and the realisation that she doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone.
Through experiencing the power music has in developing self-assuredness first hand, it is evident on ‘TROPIXX’ that Jesswar wants to embolden others. By inspiring others to be bold and self-empowered, Jesswar is laying the platform for plenty of MCs to follow on from her. Her distinct approach and relentless determination is equal parts motivating and something we are in awe of. Whatever endeavor you are chasing, Jesswar’s music is the perfect backing track for you to go all out. The ultimate message of ‘TROPIXX’ is to embrace yourself and be resilient in the face of adversity, a message we agree with wholeheartedly.
Published March 15th, 2021.