While doing my preliminary research for this article, I double checked the meaning of the word “Brujita.” In Spanish, “Bruja” means witch, but a few websites suggested that “brujita” (“little witch”) can also be a term of endearment, like calling someone a scamp.
This is cute, but it’s also unsurprising that condemnation and affection come as two sides of the same coin for a word most frequently associated with the feminine. While a full etymology of the word “witch” in various cultures would necessitate a thesaurus-sized dissertation, for San Francisco’s Brujita, it is an undeniably fitting moniker.
Call it duality, call it contradiction, or call it the devil and (cyber) angel sitting on Brujita’s shoulders pushing around the pen while they write lyrics, but their first EP, Cyber Angel, is at turns bratty and sweet, harsh and soft. This is most pronounced in “come thru” and “vibez.” The latter is one of the EP’s strongest songs, kicking in hard after ten seconds with a beat that sounds like a toy xylophone got drunk at the club in 2007.
Y2k pastiche is a big pop trend right now, and one that is palpable in Cyber Angel, but without some of the single-minded obsession that can make it tiresome. Influences bounce around the EP with beats pulling from various eras: the backbeat on “better than me” sounds like the theme music for a 2010s keystroke game, while its opening line — as spoken by a Siri-like automated voice — makes me feel warm and fuzzy remembering when feeding curse words to text-to-speak programs was the height of comedy. The instrumental of “come thru,” however, would fit comfortably over a scene of intense eye contact in an ’80s romantic drama, which, strangely enough, works for Brujita’s softer side. While “vibez” is a harsh dressing down of a hookup who foolishly wants more, “come thru” is all yearning, a catalog of all the things you say when you don’t really care any longer about sounding desperate. “I just want the best for you and maybe that could be me,” Brujita almost-whispers on the latter. And yet, I couldn’t say I would be surprised if these two songs were written about the same person.
“Duality! Ouroboros!” I yell with my headphones on blast. And it’s the truth; everyone is someone’s second choice, even Brujita. But you’ve got to appreciate the bombast that permeates the majority of the EP. “get glad!” starts with a paraphrased version of a Kim Kardashian rant, replacing “maybe if you had a fucking business” with “maybe if you were mayor.” “Oh my god Mayor Brujita how do you do it?” Brujita raps later in the song. Brujita is creating a personal folklore here, from the concept of running a town of the “baddest villagers” to the self-aggrandizing and sexual bravado on track three, “better than me.”
Gassing yourself up is paramount to pop and hip-hop, so it makes sense for Brujita to do it here, but it makes even more sense taking in to account their appreciation for the hyper-feminine internet aesthetic and their identity as a non-binary womxn. Carving out space for yourself in music while identifying outside of the gender binary necessitates some bravado, but it’s easy to forget the bravery that lives beneath that.
Brujita doesn’t want you to get to caught up in singular notions of beauty or identity. “Just back it up,” they sing on the EP’s bonus track, “back it up!” “It doesn’t matter what you look like…I’m a lil’ tubby bitch and imma still back it up!” Brujita will make space for themselves, whether on the dance floor, in the town square, or in the heart of an unsuspecting booty call. Little witches, take note.
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