PLAYING DETROIT: Tiny Jag Smashes the Patriarchy With Horror Rap on Salem EP

COLUMNS|Playing Detroit
Photo cred: Se7enfifteen

If you haven’t boarded the Tiny Jag train yet, it’s time to hop on or forever be asleep. The Detroit-based rapper has had an explosive year since her debut EP Polly last year, and she just dropped a brand new tape, Salem, which brings her cheeky horror-rap to the next level. “This tape has a lot of different layers and themes, but right now let’s just have fun and hear the first track which is me being a zombie and eating people,” Jag said at her first show since the release at Detroit’s UFO Factory on June 1st.

Jag’s hard, matter-of-fact delivery is what drew fans to her upon her first release, and there’s much more where that came from on Salem. “I can’t keep responding to these bitches cuz that shit annoying,” Jag tells us on “Nagasaki Zombie.” Part of her appeal is her ability to say what all of us are thinking – whether you’re working and sick of playing nicey-nice on email or a burgeoning trap-pop star on the rise, sometimes, these bitches can just get annoying.

The question is, who are these bitches? To Jag, the majority of Salem attacks the patriarchy and its stronghold on feminine creativity and expression. “When I was making Salem, it was during a time when I really just needed that dump, that vomit of emotion,” says Jag. “I was in a space where I was ready to get back to raw self. I was running into recurring themes that were limiting my process… and they all had to do with the expectation of maturity and femininity.”

“Nagasaki Zombie” in particular was centered around the feelings of dissociation and loneliness that one can feel when dealing with relationship problems. “It’s like this zombie state where you feel like you’re in a foreign land and so isolated from everything when really, everybody deals with it,” says Jag. “But, in that moment, you feel like your heart’s broken. You’re having all these crazy ideas like, ‘If I see him with a girl, I’m gonna pull her out of this car.’”

Jag explains that most of the record was created in a space of rebelling against all expectations of what it means to be “ladylike” or exist inside the patriarchy. Take, “Bizarre,” an ode to the highest level of no fucks given. “I’m so bizarre bitch, what? / I don’t give a fuck / I need bread bitch yah,” is the hook, which simply and bluntly describes Jag’s current mood. These lyrics are the perfect example of saying a lot with a little: I’m me, I don’t care about societal standards, and I don’t need a man or anyone else to provide for me. It’s the independent woman’s anthem that reinforces the message Destiny’s Child has been trying to tell us for years.

As far as the title, Jag says that she’s setting out to reclaim the blame put on women that started at Adam and Eve, led to things like the Salem Witch Trials, and beyond. She figures if we’re gonna take the blame for letting all the “sin” into the world, we might as well acknowledge all the litness it brought with it. “Whether we wanna admit it or not, some of the best or worst times of our lives have been in these areas that would be considered ‘sinning,’” says Jag. “So it’s like, okay, we can blame Eve, but we’re also gonna have to give her some credit for some amazing ass moments  well.”

Fair point, Jag, fair point.

Whatever you believe, the record itself is an exhilarating listening experience from front to back, especially if you, too, believe in dismantling the patriarchy. In Jag’s own words:  ”It’s just a really good release and a good, therapeutic fuck you.”

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