V88

ARTICLE ASHLEY SIMPSON

PHOTOGRAPHY MATTHEW WILLIAMS

STYLIST AKEEM SMITH

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THE VIDEO: HBA F/W '14

PREMIERE TRACK: PILLOW TALK - DEVIL'S RUN

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EXTRA CREDITS

Makeup Yumi (L’Atelier)  Hair Rudy Martins (L’Atelier)  Photo assistants Cameron DeMarco and Denis Vlasov   Stylist assistant Aryeh Lappin  Production assistant Kyle Robertson  Location Splashlight SoHo, NY

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ACTUALLY HUIZENGA\'S POSTCARDS FROM VEGAS WIIG\'S WEIRD AND WONDERFUL WAYS  THE PICK-UP PREMIERE EP: CRYSTAL FIGHTERS

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PHOTOGRAPHY MATTHEW WILLIAMS
FASHION AKEEM SMITH
TEXT ASHLEY SIMPSON

FROM EXPERIMENTAL BEATS TO SLICK RHYMES, THESE THREE UP-AND-COMING ARTISTS ARE BREAKING DOWN THE BARRIERS OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY BY RELEASING THEIR OWN HITS AND MAKING THEIR OWN GENRES

BUY V88 THE MUSIC ISSUE

PRINCESS NOKIA
Twenty-one-year-old rapper Princess Nokia—previously known as Wavy Spice—doesn’t have a cell phone. If you want to get in touch with her, you have to ring her boyfriend, approach her at her women’s art collective (Smart Girl Club, up in the Bronx), or perhaps catch her out and about. “My whole approach to music is very DIY New York–inspired,” she says. “Brooklyn raves, Brooklyn house parties, downtown gay extravaganzas, punk shows, art shows, shared spaces…I just really like going out, the depth and experience of doing live shows.”

Nokia’s concerts are very much reflective of a post-Internet-era, multifaceted New York identity. “I’m a fairy girl,” she declares. “I’m like cyber-alterna. Divine creature. You can call me a metaphysical creature,” she adds with a wink. “You can write that.” She combines diverse sonic references—Caribbean jazz, grime, Jamaican dance hall, Turkish pop, even “New Agey adult contemporary”—to create a sound that she describes as “fairy wave,” full of acutely abrasive, fast-spun ruminations on sex, drugs, and youthful materialism. “It’s really a perspective on myself and the New York experience,” says Nokia, who will be releasing her first mixtape, Metallic Butterfly, this spring. “I take music very seriously, because it’s always been a huge part of my life.”  


SZA
For all of her success, SZA admits that she never planned to be a singer. “Hell no,” she tells me while calling from her tour bus, in Vegas, “If anything, I wanted to be a scientist or get into marketing or advertising. Music was so not on my radar.” Her early beats were copped from MF Doom and her big brother. (“I just stole them—from the Internet, from my brother’s computer,” she explains. “They definitely belonged to other people which is crazy.”) She dresses “like a boy” and is a little camera shy—stuff she’s okay with. And she spent last night at a “hole in the wall” strip club with Kendrick Lamar and the rest of her TDE crew. “We got lap dances and ended up making some really great, kindhearted stripper friends,” she says.

Her brother was the one to recognize her talent. “If you don’t want to sing, just humor me,’” he said, convincing her to lay down a few lines on his own rap tracks. Eventually, their sessions gave birth to smoky, rawly assertive numbers like “Changes” and “Julia.” “People started listening,” said SZA. “Meanwhile, I was still working at Sephora every day, still bartending every night, with no real expectations. I think only in the last five months did I realize, ‘I’m probably supposed to legit focus on singing, because I’m not going back to Sephora.’”

Now, SZA is prepping to drop her debut major label release, Z. “I’m just excited to see the aftermath,” she says. “I want to either drop the project and have everyone think I suck, or drop the project and have my life change forever. So I think I’m just looking forward to that moment. Either way, I just want to get it over with.”


JUNGLEPUSSY
“It’s not as scandalous as it seems,” suggests Brooklyn- born-and-bred rapper Junglepussy. She’s talking about her not-so-subtle moniker, which she insists is just an innocent reference to a girl “growin’ up in the concrete jungle of New York City.”

“Everybody took it as something sexual, like, ‘Are you a porn star? Are you a stripper?’” she explains. “No! I just like the jungle and I’m a girl, so I have a pussy. Plus, there are so many men named Dick. There’s Dick Cheney, there’s Dick Clark. So many men are named Dick in a formal way.” The quick-witted Le1f collaborator has other tricks that few dare encroach upon. She mixes raunchy, gleefully cut-to-the-point shit talking (“Picky Bitch Checklist,” “Stitches”) with politically sensitive, unapologetically feminist demands (“Feelin’ Myself”). “[As a] young black woman coming up in this time, music, media—everything that you do—[is interpreted as] something weird or ratchet or ghetto,” she explains. “I’m really here to burn down those stereotypes. Because we’re more than that.”

The rapper wasn’t always so outspoken. “All through high school I was in a rap group—we used to cut class and freestyle our beats—but I was the shy one,” Junglepussy says, recalling that she sat cheering in the audience as her crew performed at the school talent show. It wasn’t until a few years later, after a couple of years at FIT studying fashion merchandising, that the artist conceded to laying down a few tracks with friend (and then Patricia Fields coworker) Dai Burger. After that, “I couldn’t ignore it,” she says. “I didn’t feel like myself, just talking crap and not having anything to show for it, so I decided to take heed of everybody’s demands and put out my own music. I put out my first single two summers ago, and it changed my life.”

The tall, Versace-meets-Stefani-styled stunner is releasing her debut full-length. “Last summer, I opened for Lil’ Kim, and this past New Year’s Eve I had a show with Mykki Blanco,” says Junglepussy. “Last holiday, I was attending these shows. Now I’m performing in them! I can’t wait to see what doors open up this year and what opportunities I’m gonna be blessed with.”  

EXTRA CREDITS

Makeup Yumi (L’Atelier)  Hair Rudy Martins (L’Atelier)  Photo assistants Cameron DeMarco and Denis Vlasov   Stylist assistant Aryeh Lappin  Production assistant Kyle Robertson  Location Splashlight SoHo, NY

MORE TO LOVE

ACTUALLY HUIZENGA\'S POSTCARDS FROM VEGAS WIIG\'S WEIRD AND WONDERFUL WAYS  THE PICK-UP PREMIERE EP: CRYSTAL FIGHTERS
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