Jimetta Rose has been a glowing reflection of the L.A. music community for more than a decade now. A chance encounter twelve years ago outside of the sound mecca that was Sketchbook at the former Little Temple—now the Virgil—led to a flourishing friendship with Georgia Muldrow who produced the new The Light Bearer on Busdriver’s Temporary Whatever label. She performs Sept. 15 and Sept. 29 with the Great Unknown at the Del Monte Townhouse in Venice. This interview by Senay Kenfe. " /> L.A. Record


September 14th, 2016 | Interviews

photography by dana washington

Jimetta Rose: The chemistry! This production, some of it does sound different for Georgia, and that is a testament to her being a real producer—and when I say ‘real’ producer, I mean not a beatmaker. You know—she can produce. A beatmaker is someone who has an innate ability for crafting sound with digital instruments but cannot play an instrument, cannot write a chord, cannot write to a song that you’re singing. They have to form the beat, and you have to just get to that beat. They have no flexibility beyond that. I don’t want to say that they’re not musicians, ‘cause they are crafting sound, too. But a musician … half of these songs were songs that Georgia produced already that she played for me; she played a handful of songs and we picked. Then the other half of the record, like ‘Skyscrapers’, ‘Welcome to the World’, ‘Actually’ … those songs were songs that I wrote. I sang ‘Searching to find a world that’s full of…’ And she said, ‘Okay, wait.’ [tapping] ‘We gotta get the beat. Sing that again?’ Then she started to play the bass on the keys, she started to play the melody on the keys, then she got on the drums … you see what I’m saying? That’s a producer. I think this is a true testament to her talent as a producer. Everyone knows her musicianship. Everyone knows her talent as a vocalist, MC, even a hip-hop producer. But this is where she’s going. Quincy Jones was a man, and I think that’s why he was so readily acknowledged. Georgia’s a woman, but she should be readily acknowledged—people are calling her, and I don’t want to say that they taking her sound or whatever, but for me…
I would say that. I mean, if we’re gonna talk about L.A. sound, at this moment in time, we seem really ego-mainstream, for better or for worse. In L.A., there are certain sounds we see coming to the forefront. You know, we either have the Good Life sound, you have Sa-Ra, and even more recently, you have people like Georgia…
Jimetta Rose: And Georgia was a contributor to Sa-Ra, too.
Yeah, but people don’t get that. And when I say ‘people’, I mean people outside of the scene. Easy listeners. They don’t recognize the relationship between…
Jimetta Rose: Those three sounds.
And how it has impacted today—2016.
Jimetta Rose: Think about Georgia’s album Worthnothings. Nothing sounds like that to this day. Nothing sounded like it then, and it was ahead of its time but still well-received and loved. So it’s a timeless record. It’s like … Beyonce might have all the money—but make this record, though. By yourself. And she made the record by herself at like, fifteen. So let’s just give credit where credit is due, because sisters is out here doin’ it. That was part of the reason I decided to have her only produce this record; it was about the statement it would make for us to do this together. Just us—no tracks from someone else. When I thought about wanting to make a spiritual jazz record that was like, message music, I knew I needed it to bump. I called Georgia because I know she has a jazz background, and I was in love with Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders. She ended up being the perfect person to call because we didn’t make what that was; we made what we came together to create and it still has the message, it still has the bump, it still has some of the jazz elements, but it’s like, authentic. It’s true. It’s truly her, it’s truly me. And nobody’s doin’ that! So I believe in it. You know, it’s been a hard road. This music has been done for more than two years. It was real serious labor pains. Slowly but surely, I kept it up. I started working on other albums, but I always had these files, you know? And Temporary Whatever came with Busdriver. It was funny, because on the L.A. scene he’s … I would say a watcher, or the mayor, you know? He’s always over on the heels looking out at what’s going on, and I guess he’d been hearing about me. He got my number and his first question was like, ‘So what’s goin’ on with your music? Why are you not excelling as you should? Do you feel people are trying to sabotage your career?’ That was his first question! And I was just like, ‘No?! I don’t think that’s what’s happening?! I like to think people aren’t malicious like that—I think it just hasn’t been my time yet.’ ‘Well what’s going on? Do you have any music I could hear?’ From there it just went: we had a listening session, he loved the Light Bearer, he wanted to know what was going on with it, and here we are six months later and it’s out.
I don’t want to call him an elder—he might take offense—but why do you feel in general there’s such a disconnect between the older generation in terms of music—especially within the independent scene—and the younger generation?
Jimetta Rose: I actually think that it’s starting to be less of a gap? Also I think that within our Black liberation movement, it’s a big gap between the elders and the youth. It has a lot to do with that spirit of individuality and needing to stake your claim. The young ones that are kind of jockin’ the style don’t want to acknowledge it because it’s their style, and the older ones, it’s like, ‘I’m here and I’m established.’ What I like about Busdriver is he’s not like that. He does reach out to the younger generations and he has an eternally fresh perspective. I think that you’ll see as this starts to get more solidified … a lot of it has to do with the lack of stability in the community to where you don’t wanna really align yourself too much with somebody ‘cause they shit might fall off …
It’s politics.
Jimetta Rose: It’s politics! The more we get past politics and get more into culture building, into community making … that’s what he did reaching out to me, and reaching out to any aspiring entertainer he’s reaching out to. It’s building bridges, and reminding ourselves that we are building culture, and we are already a community whether we acknowledge it or not. We can be a broken community, or we can be united making a difference. Just look at our light now—you said we’re going mainstream.
I didn’t say that! They’re noticing us.
Jimetta Rose: They are! They’re noticing us. And we’re partially together over here. Imagine if we were completely together! It would be a full beam—it would take over. So that to me is healing those things that keep us separated in the community. A lot of it is ego, a lot of it is not realizing that we’re building something beyond our artistic contributions. I have faith that it’ll be less of a gap between the generations. The ones that last are like pillars. I have a new song I wrote called ‘Black Museums,’ and it’ll be on a record coming up, and it’s all about thinking of yourself—your museum. What facts do you have? The elders are like that generation of hip-hoppers that started the Good Life and—
Project Blowed—
Jimetta Rose: Project Blowed … If they still are relevant, they’re culture guards. They’re standing there. That’s why the ego thing has to be eradicated. You gotta accept and give what you can because that’s how we really build this. That’s why we become dependent on the white dollar—we can’t take it from each other.
Or we’re too scared to give it to each other. The idea of, ‘Oh, I’ve worked so hard…’ And it’s true, they’ve worked so hard: ‘I’ve gotten to this position, and now I have to block the door because I’m worried a younger version might take it from me.’
Jimetta Rose: That’s why spirituality always comes back for me because I really believe each person is a note in the chorus of creation, and if I can inspire people to sing their note authentically … be more authentic because we all actually harmonize when we’re ourselves.
What do you want people to say about this album?
Jimetta Rose: I hope it plants a seed of desire for more of the vision, more of the art, more of the music. I wanna turn this into a whole lifestyle, you know? This is the first step, and I hope the seeds land in fertile soil. The world is fucked up, and we really need balms for our spirit and our soul. We have so many things informing us about who we are that it’s hard to get back to zero. I hope this music inspires people to get back to zero—being our most authentic self—because self-love is a revolution.
I saw you posting about women within the community who make music coming together. Why did you feel that was necessary to amplify with your platform?
Jimetta Rose: I feel like women need each other. Sisters need each other especially, but women need each other just for the simple fact that we do live in a patriarchal society. The ideas circulated in this society are that we cannot work together, we cannot get along, we have too much competition between us, we can’t appreciate one another … When you realize everything is propaganda they’re giving you to make you live your life a certain way, you realize they want women disenfranchised from one another—they want you to think it’s a competition. There’s room for everyone, and the more that we eradicate that idea of there not being room and celebrate one another, the more that lie won’t have power over us. So even though I didn’t put all that thought into those tweets, that’s where it came from: ‘Hey, Nia [Andrews] is putting out a record the week after me? Yay!’ ‘Nico [Gray]’s about to put out a record next month? Oh, yay!’ ‘Low Leaf playing the harp, ministering to these people, yay!’ ‘Hey, Ill Camille, hit ‘em with that reel!’ Divine femininity cannot be suppressed. It’s not that it will rise and obliterate the male energy. The energies are needed together to create life. We are out of balance. We see killing every day on TV, whether it be police or Afghanistan or Syria or bombs our country dropped—the masculine energy is out of control. That’s not to say masculine energy is only responsible for negative things. When anything is out of balance, you experience negative aspects of that power. Masculine energy is strong, stabilizing, forward-thinking, a good planner, overseer but look what we’re overseeing. Look what we’re planning. We’re planning wars when people don’t have enough to eat. We don’t need all these bullets and guns. But why do they keep making guns? Because guns make money. That’s it. Guns take lives, though. So I’m all about the divine femininity rising. We’re here, and we don’t apologize, and we birthed this place. So we deserve a platform. It’s about saying that loud enough ‘til other women believe it, too, and don’t feel threatened by each other. That’s how women work together. That’s how we used to work together. Women would sit around like, ‘You know how we do the fields? We could have potatoes here, or…’ and they’d tell the men, and the men do it. It’s that codependency we gotta get back to. With me, that has to do with embracing their feminine aspects, embracing their ability to care.
Not being ashamed of it.
Jimetta Rose: Yeah! But the rhetoric of our society makes women and men ashamed of their ability to hold. That’s what women do—an ability to hold, an ability to bend, and is that supposed to be weakness? The hardest poses in yoga are the ones where you are letting go yet standing. Everything is pressing you, but you are pressing back. That invisible press is what I would like to highlight with my light. The invisible, almost intangible feminine energy that’s always here provides us with so much beauty, so much comfort … I’m all about that. I feel like I’m a rose and everybody’s a flower. We all in this garden so like … let’s grow.


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