How to be a bad bitch with Jamaica Moana
November 30th 2018
Image by Eliam Royalness
It’s a Wednesday afternoon, there’s torrential rain (wtf) and I’m preparing myself to meet with a Bad Bitch of South Western Sydney
I usually feel pretty bad (in a good way) but my meeting with Jamaica Moana takes me to another level. Jamaica suggested that we meet at The Street University in Liverpool. It’s a youth centre and a safe space for South Western Sydney youth that Jamaica has been coming to for 5 years. We talk in the recording studio; the same one in which Jamaica recorded the tracks Fur, Thot and New Song. The studio is conventional – think black leather couch, grey carpet, a bit of desk space and posters on the wall – except for two chairs. Like Nicki Minaj is to a pink wig so am I to bright colours and I find myself staring at emerald green and hot pink chairs. ‘I painted them myself for the Fur video’, Jamaica says, ‘you can see I missed a spot here, but I wanted to create 10 looks and these chairs helped complete them’.
A proud descendent of strong Māori (Ngāpuhi; Northland & Tainui; Waikato) and Samoan heritage, Jamaica is an artist currently based in Cadi|Sydney. Spiritually, Jamaica is not defined as male or female, but speaks of being culturally and emotionally being drawn to both genders, fluid and free. And yes, if you’re wondering, Jamaica IS Jamaica’s real name. Jamaica tells me, ‘I was named by the biggest Bob Marley fan, my father’. After a recent trip to the Caribbean, Jamaica cannot speak highly enough of the island nation. ‘It holds a huge piece of my heart. Finally, connecting myself ‘Jamaica’ with the place ‘Jamaica’ is the perfect pair of bliss’. Jamaica started as a dancer, actor and sometimes rapper who was never quite ready to release anything. When Fur was recorded Jamaica knew it was the right time and from that idea came the visual project that Jamaica is so proud of. And rightly so! As designer, writer, director, production manager and performer Jamaica had total creative control over the video. When it comes to writing Jamaica keeps it real. ‘My songs are written about real experiences and judgements. It’s all in the lyrics…’.
Fur is about a date that went wrong and New Song is a clapback to a couple of the not-so-nice reactions that people have had to Jamaica’s work. ‘People have literally said to me, ‘you can’t do it like that – you can’t look like that’ and put such a stigma on my rap, so I prove that I can do it, that I can look like ‘that’. My lyrics say it: You can’t do it like that/You do it all wrong. But then I come back with: Boo I think you missed the point/Coz it’s your phone it plays on. It’s these people…they’re judging but listening, it’s crazy!’
Poster by Serwah Attafuah
On Sunday night Jamaica will be performing Fur, Thot and New Song as well as walking with House of Slé at the Bad Bitch Summer Ball. The Ball is a Vogue event which runs from 4pm- 9pm at the Addison Road Community Centre. For those who are unfamiliar with Voguing a House is a collective of people who train together to compete in Vogue Balls. Each House has a mother – the mother of Slé and the driving force behind this Ball is the iconic Bhenji Ra – and these Houses become the ultimate safe spaces for their members. ‘Slé is a union, it’s a family’, explains Jamaica. ‘It’s supposed to be just training and competing but it’s so much more than that.’ Voguing itself originated in the 80s as an evolution of the Harlem Ballroom scene and is quite honestly, a fine art form. If you haven’t witnessed Voguing you haven’t lived. Sunday night’s vogue categories hold something for everyone. If you’re a first time walker then Baby’s First Walk is for you. Do you wanna come thru with that Fenty Beauty then hit the room with a Tyra smize? Then walk in Glowd Up Face. Jamaica’s favourite category is Runway; an opportunity to work that poise and style whilst still serving you a look.
When Jamaica performs it’s about bringing confidence, ‘I want people to see my confidence shine through, to show talent has no race or sexuality’, and a little bit of inspiration from the unstoppable Nicki Minaj. ‘She is the Baddest Bitch’. Amen.
Image by Eliam Royalness
Keeping Nicki in good company are Jamaica’s other rap inspirations, ‘Females with so much power in their voices: Sharaya J, Qveen Herby and of course I grew up bumping to Nicki in school, but my number one rap inspiration is Lauryn Hill. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill has some of the smartest, lyrical verses I have ever heard. I live for her.’ And I am living for Jamaica. Speaking with Jamaica has reminded me to keep moving, motivated and inspired. ‘I am constantly motivated by my tupuna and whanau [ancestors and family] and Aotearoa is a HUGE source of inspiration. It’s home. It recharges me for the next chapter and keeps me grounded’.
And as the cherry on top, before I left Jamaica kindly imparted 5 guidelines for how to be a Bad Bitch. Read aloud and repeat often.
How to be a Bad Bitch
1. Wake up cleansed. You can’t go on with your badass day with a cluttered mind. Release
all of yesterday.
2. Value yourself. Appreciate your all. Validation from yourself is what counts.
3. Block negativity (–it’s inevitable). It’s so easy to absorb negativity from others’ energies
but an even bigger skill is to block it all out.
4. Focus on the goal. See what you’re doing it for and charge towards it. Don’t pay notice
to any unsure vibrations on the way.
5. A Bad Bitch knows how to pull a look. You must know how to dress from the baby hairs
on your head to the heels on the pump. A Bad Bitch must look bomb.
Get to work.
WHAT: Bad Bitch Summer Ball
WHEN: Sunday 2 December, 4-9pm
WHERE: Addison Road Community Centre
HOW MUCH: FREE and all ages, more details here
Written by Ayeesha Ash