Racquel Jones has accomplished more than what many would do in their lives in such a short time frame. Let’s scratch that out…we need to say that the Kingston, Jamaica-born artist is an ideal personification of the term “renaissance woman.” A few of Jones’ endeavors include being a renowned poet, successful model, former Miss Jamaica Universe contestant, and skilled painter. One attribute that everyone needs to be fully recognized by everyone is the exceptional music Jones has crafted, dating back to her start being a part of Thievery Corporation’s touring band. The experience offered Jones to be exposed to large crowds throughout Europe, South America, and coast to coast in the United States.
Dropped this past April, IgnoRANT is a powerful collection of tracks that range on topics such as toxicity of Christianity/Catholicism, fighting against racism and sexism, and celebrating her accomplishments and beauty as a Black Jamaican woman despite her struggles. All of this is to the tune of aggressive and hypnotic beatwork, as well as catchy hooks that bring it all together. Racquel herself describes the record/her mission statement best.
“The voice of the record is addressing truth; in its raw blatant pure form void of the disposition of wrong or right. It’s my voice…along with the voice of anyone who has ever felt stereotyped. It may seem at times cynical, sarcastic, provocative, and uncomfortable, but the anguish is palpable by intention. It’s a voice unique, but one that anyone can understand. It’s the voice of undiplomatic gritty intelligence, relatable to all cultures, transcending pop-cultural vernacular and’ waves’. It’s the voice of powerful women made to feel powerless. It’s the voice of black kings made to feel less than human. It’s the voice of sexual freedom in the face of misogynistic false standards for women. It’s the voice of a young Jamaican woman who’s seen the world and its parallel stereotype universes in all cultures. It’s the edgy voice of Jamaica, a rebel beauty queen, a fallen preacher’s child, the only sister among three brothers, four years in art school, and a bachelor of fine arts. That’s me; I’m that voice. I’m Racquel Jones. I create music that’s conceptual but not too esoteric; intelligent but dope, relatable yet deep, revolutionary and soulful, thoughtful in its words, learned in its language, but accessible. That’s me, and I’m baring my soul for the world to see and hear.”
Growing up in Jamaica, what were some of your first experiences being in the States?
Magical. The first set of travels were to New York. Manhattan is still one of my favorite cities in the world. I relive the nostalgia of the first time I visited every time I go there.
I’ve seen artists such as Lauryn Hill, Foxy Brown, Kirk Franklin, and Nina Simone were a few of the influences. What spoke to you that made these acts so inspirational?
For Lauryn, it was the lyricism, vocals, and poise. For Foxy, it was the flow and edginess. With Kirk Franklin, it was the gospel arrangements and musicality. As for Nina Simone, it was the class, grace, eloquence, fearlessness, soul, and activism.
Another act that influenced you was DMX, who recently passed. What was your earliest memory of discovering his work?
I discovered Dmx’s music from CDs I stole going through my older brother’s stuff. I’ve never heard anything like that, and even though I was too young to be listening, something impacted and touched me greatly. I loved his sound and the way he said things. That’s how I discovered the miseducation of Lauryn Hill too.
You had the distinct opportunity to be a part of the touring band with Thievery Corporation. What has this experience helped in terms of how you go about your solo work?
Firstly,, it has taught me not to write with so many syllables because I’m going to have to perform them live, and I’ll get winded. And secondly, it deepened my passion and need to connect with audiences.
Being renowned with your visual work, what is the thought process like when you start a new project?
First, it comes at me in an abstract conundrum of sounds, feelings, colors, images, and voices. Then sometimes, I brainstorm and organize them, and is primarily intentional in my approach. Sometimes I attack the canvas in the middle of the chaos and see what happens.
With the pandemic, many artists like yourself have looked into new ways to go about their craft. Have you surveyed the landscape and see what seems appealing?
Your latest album dives into serious matters such as exposing unfavorable stereotypes. What made you feel like this was the time to look into this subject matter?
I’m a walking magnet for stereotypes and ignorant judgment. When is it never not the right time to talk about the stereotype since it continues to happen?
How troublesome was it for you and the team to record the album, given the pandemic locked us all out?
The album was recorded close to the end of 2019 while I was in the middle of a tour.
The album feels like it has a more complex sound than previous releases. Did the lyrical work affect how the instrumentals or was it the other way around?
Everything was created simultaneously.
You have built a resume that showcases a wide range of accolades. What is it that you want to do that you haven’t done yet?
Film. I want to write, direct and produce some things.
(Photo Courtesy: Lacey Terrell)