A while ago, I had a chance to meet with one of my favorite artists in the DMV. Some call her a femcee, feeling the need to qualify her sex as some sort of judgement factor. But i simply call her dope. Jay Mills has been doing it for a minute; one of the first artists that i ever got the chance to meet in DC. I always love talking to her as she’s got real perspective on life and society. Peep the convo between Jay Mills and I…
L: A lot of your songs sound like poetry to me. To me, it is one of the definitive aspects of your sound; Tell me about your poetic background.
J: I started writing when I was about 9… In the third and fourth grade. I just started telling stories that rhymed. It didn’t have a beat,i didn’t consider myself to be a rapper. What i wrote down may have sounded like a rap, but it was just what came to me. It was telling a story. It was poetry. Just ME telling MY story. I’ve been writing (poetry) forever!
L: The name of the next project you are about to drop is called Winter Sadness (4th Installment). But you know what, before we get to Winter Sadness, let’s talk about your last project Summer Madness. What inspired Summer Madness?
J: Summer Madness is something that i knew i wanted to do after the third installment of Winter Sadness. The first 2 installments were really just poetry. It’s a bit of an introspective. I’m usually wilding out in the summer time and in the winter I’m inside and things are calmer. So I always write alot during the winter. There’s a song by Kool and the Gang called Winter Sadness that i discovered. And my poem by the same title went perfectly to the song. From then i started thinking about the opposites of summer and winter and i knew that i wanted the next project to embody the feel of summer time. Being with your friends, chillin’ and having fun. I’m privileged that alot of the DMV’s best artists are my friends (laughs). We camped out in my old apartment and just made it happen. ‘The Cipher’ is one of the songs that came out of that.
L: Yeah, that was one of the first things i noticed. The whole DMV is on the mixtape! But i wanted to ask you specifically, who do you feel like you connected with the most creatively working on Summer Madness?
J: If there was one, I gotta say Tease Fever. I have to side-note all the female emcees. We’re doing something special; working on powerful things. We’re doing things that many of the guys aren’t doing.
L: Like what?
J: We are just a little more collaborative with other artists that are not with the same label or may not run with that same clique. We are taking our own pictures and doing our own photo shoots and videos.
L: That actually goes into something else that i wanted to talk about. There has been a real DIY type of attitude that starting to spread among the underground community male and female alike, which i think is necessary and great. It’s almost trendy now. But what do you think specifically has aided to this?
J: That’s a multi layered question. But simplified, there’s a residual wealth class and there’s a merchant class… and the merchant class is directly influenced by art. As African-Americans, we’ve been defined by our art forever – Jazz, Hip Hop, Soul. The corporate monster stops people from developing their own merchant class. But in all industries people are learning that being your own boss most of the time is the only way to be rich. Even doctors, and lawyers. You see alot more of them opening up their own offices, breaking away from established entities. People in all different types of industries are learning that being your own boss in this day and age is the best way to get paid!
L: True that! Sometimes it’s also the best way to get stuff done. I want to talk about the video. Tell me …everything.
J: It was shot by Cool Kids Films and they did a phenomenal job. It was amazing. Thirteen hours in one place and several different looks. There’s actually a whole dance sequence that didn’t make it. But I will be doing a special because I dance and i like to dance to that song. My homegirl from NY is a choreographer and she blessed me with some really dope choreography to use and it works well with the song. Edited by D. Dot films, and they did some really cool things with the sliding. It was directed by the lovely lady, Deedee Jay. My stylist Charmika, beautymark made that happen.
L: The joint is definitely hot!
J: I wanted it to look universal. I wanted it to be so that you don’t know I’m from DC. You’re just like “Who is this? Where did she come from?” I say it all in the song. That’s stated. So I didn’t want to do the whole “Oh i’m in the city in this spot, i’m in the city at that spot.” It’s been done. And it’s been done well. I just wanted to do something different.
L: OK. This is a little random. Twitter. You are a big twitterer.
J: I’m a tweeter.Yes, you are. And you got a nice twitter following too just 60 shy of 200
L: Yes, you are. And you got a nice twitter following in the thousands.Over the last couple of weeks alot has been happening on Twitter. People gain and lose followers over all types of things. So do you think it helps more than it hurts or vice versa?
J: I think that Twitter is a powerful communications tool and it’s fostering a change in society. But it’s up to individuals whether they make that a positive or negative experience. With Twitter you can communicate directly to them (your fans) and they can communicate directly to you. It’s a gift and a curse. The more love you get, the more hate you get. It can make fans totally committed to your music and can make them feel connected to you, one with you. Because it means alot to them that you pay attention. I tweeted Erykah Badu once, and she tweeted back. That was epic for me! I favorited that (laughs). As artists we are naturally very affected when it comes to our art.But it’s a sign of severe insecurity in your art if you get love, and out of all the love, you choose to focus on one piece of hate.
L: Damn. Well said. So last question. The same thing I always ask everybody last. What’s next, aside from Winter Sadness?
J: I’ve started getting a buzz and developing a fan base in a couple of countries overseas. South Africa, UK, Switzerland. I’m looking to go overseas and do some touring. The same way I’ve been focusing here and doing my thing, I plan to go there and do it.
Look out Europe. Look like she’s got her eyes on your hip-hop consumers.