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Omega Jade X JoBu, 'Yin & Yang'

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Published June 15, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.


Omega Jade X JoBu, Yin & Yang - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Omega Jade X JoBu, Yin & Yang

(Self-released, CD)

Omega Jade is a creator. Creation is at the core of her many identities, including but not limited to mother, MC, poet, comedian, teacher and spoken-word artist. In each of her myriad pursuits, she honors the way in which different truths — even ones that seem contradictory — can coexist.

Jade herself embodies that principle. In a 2019 Seven Days profile, Justin Boland wrote that Jade "is a roller coaster of contradictions. She's brutally honest and stubbornly evasive in equal measure." With rapper JoBu, Jade explores similar dualities in her new EP, aptly named Yin & Yang.

Produced by Rico James, Yin & Yang is Jade's eighth record, due out on Sunday, June 19 — Juneteenth. Its seven tracks conjure artists such as Black Star and Wu-Tang Clan ("I would write my own stuff while listening to Wu-Tang Clan," Jade reveals on "Plight of the Femcee"). James' production evokes Madlib, with soulful, dusty beats and samples ranging from Method Man to the Velvet Underground. The influence of rapper-singers such as Lauryn Hill and Bahamadia is evident, too, both in the EP's sound and in Jade's empowering lyrics.

With Jade's multiple identities come a multitude of talents, many of which are highlighted on the record's penultimate track, "Plight of the Femcee." The song begins with her daughter asking, "How did you become a rapper? I think I want to be one one day." It's a relatively simple utterance that reminds listeners of the more complex and critical importance of representation in music and culture.

Jade responds honestly and authentically, with motherly affection. She tells her daughter that she loved writing and poetry from a young age; when she became an adult, she continues, "a few things happened." Those "things" were multiple nervous breakdowns, getting fired from jobs and, eventually, ending up onstage spitting verses.

The darker reality of Jade's answer (yin) offers a counterpoint to her loving, maternal tone (yang). Then the beat shifts, and in comes Jade's MC voice, lower in tone and more serious in nature. She raps about feminism (yin), combating a misogynistic culture with empowering lyrics: "Ain't no level playing field when you come with a uterus." Then, "Either damn way we are more than our body / My mind makes the dreams that my body fulfills." JoBu (yang) ends the song with his own uplifting, feminist verse.

If there is a critique to be made of the album, it's that Jade's flow doesn't always hit. I wasn't surprised to learn that she also does spoken word and poetry, as there are moments on the EP that sound more like spoken word over soulful beats than an MC's flows alongside music. Still, Yin & Yang is a strong EP exploring femininity, community, challenge and creation, while acknowledging that competing truths can coexist.

Listen to Yin & Yang at omegajade.bandcamp.com.