Release Date: November 13, 2015
There’s a therapeutic sensation that washes over you as Junglepussy raps about eating fruits and vegetables, getting her scalp greased, and ditching worthless men with the conviction you’d expect from the hardest street rapper in East New York. To call her proper full-length debut Pregnant With Success unapologetic in its demeanor feels wrong, because Junglepussy is not under any impression that she is supposed to be apologetic in speaking her truth. This is most apparent in “Pop for You”, where she boldly and hilariously eviscerates “ungrateful motherf**kers”: “Last nigga bought me leopard print lingerie and I’m like, I got niggas takin’ me to see live animals and you pullin’ up with animal prints? Man, get outta here with that.”
Born Shayna McHayle, Junglepussy is a Brooklyn-bred rapper born to West Indian parents. It is this West Indian upbringing, along with her Brooklyn mannerisms, that inform the snarky and lascivious audacity that she brings to each of her records. After catching a buzz in 2013 through her grimy, alluring debut single, “Cream Team” and 2014’s enjoyably ribald Satisfaction Guaranteed mixtape, McHayle is even bolder and funnier on its follow-up. She dedicates Success to “all mothers and to anyone who’s ever created something,” including her own, and unsurprisingly it’s a strong-mannered record full of affirmation towards women (particularly black women) and anyone else who needs a reminder of their own power. It’s easy to hear the influences of Lil Kim, Vybz Kartel and Lady Saw in her cadence and sound, but her personality is more akin to a Hey Fran Hey-esque lifestyle guru who uses rap as her platform.
The album is rife with lines about eating right (“Them fruits & veggies my only vice that I can indulge”), references to hair care (“Head to toe new growth / I let my shit grow out”), and the tribulations of dealing with men (just about all of “Pop for You”). More than anything else, Junglepussy preaches embracing sex positivity — in “Nothing for Me” she raps, “I let a dude know what he don’t do / What I go through and you can’t stay I ain’t told you” — and self-belief. “Don’t ask me no questions / ‘Bout who be the hottest / When you got it, you got it / If you copy, you not it,” she declares in the album closer “Dear Diary,” which ends in a soliloquy about how success has become blurred with being blessed. She passes her self-assuredness onto the listener.
Shining brightest on standouts like “Somebody”, “Get It Right” and “Country Boy,” the rapper incorporates slack-style seductive crooning and hard-spitting raps over beats that are at once pounding, triumphant street anthems as well as jazzy, gorgeous grooves. Thank Texas-bred producer Shy Guy, who’s quickly becoming vital to NYC’s underground rap scene. His arrangements and flourishes allow space for Junglepussy’s outsized character to really blossom, and the album is so tight that when things do start to drag, as on “The Only Way,” the lag doesn’t last for long. At a little over 30 minutes, McHayle is able to pack a startling amount of sly, vulgar and charismatic punch into such conciseness. Junglepussy has always been quick-witted and smart on record, but here she’s almost entirely on her A-game. She may not be a star (yet), but on Pregnant With Success she’s letting you prepare to know the name. Even if radio won’t be able to say it on the air.