Ms Jade: Girl Interrupted

Marc L. Hill

Ms Jade

Girl Interrupted

Label: Interscope
US Release Date: 2002-11-05
UK Release Date: 2002-11-18

In the world of female rap, where appearance and crew affiliation are as vital to success as actual talent, it is rare to find strong lyricism. While lyrically gifted but aesthetically challenged male artists like Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel can sell records and garner street credibility, skilled female artists who don't fit industry beauty standards are often forced to the margins of rap society. In order to achieve mainstream success, female MCs are compelled to exploit their sexuality, assuming postmodern versions of historically stereotypical and controlling identities like Jezebel the temptress and Sapphire the emasculator. Those who exist along the periphery (underground) are forced to relinquish their feminine identities like the asexual mammy (e.g. Aunt Jemima), in order to obtain respect in hip-hop circles as a "real" MC.

Such an environment has resulted in an overabundance of lyrical lightweights who, to quote Eve, "ain't writin' well, too concerned with fashion." In fact, most aren't writing at all. The fact that the few female rappers who actually write their own rhymes constantly remind us of this fact on every track is a testament to the paucity of female lyricists in today's superficial rap world. Nevertheless, on her debut album, Girl Interrupted, Ms. Jade proves that a sister can deliver (and write) real lyrics without surrendering to hip-hop's identity politics.

As a protégé of Timbaland, Ms. Jade reaps the benefit of superstar production throughout the album. Backed by Timbo's usual array of futuristic head knocking beats, Girl Interrupted is a sonic delight. Ms. Jade holds up her end of the bargain by bringing the lyrical goods on songs like "Jade's a Champ", where she spits braggadocious rhymes over a sick beat. "I put the weight on my shoulders where other bitches slack / Who else you know can breath life into a murdered track / I done seen what y'all can do, never mind that / Like the old mixed with the new, like a Philly throwback / Take your best shots, I promise I'm a throw back". Other strong tracks include the hilarious "Get Away", where Ms. Jade talks about the problems that inevitably emerge in female friendships. (Note: check the funny twist in the song's last verse.)

While the album features many guest appearances, Ms. Jade leaves no doubt that this is her project. On the album's hit single "Ching Ching", Nelly Furtado's hypnotic tones provide the perfect backdrop to Ms. Jade's North Philly flow. Artists like Missy ("Really Don't Want My Love") and Lil' Mo ("Why You Tell Me Like That") contribute strongly but don't overshadow Ms. Jade's more than capable vocals. The only exception is the super hot "Count It Off", where Jade is clearly outshined by Jay-Z. While Jade brings her own heat, her lyrical arms are clearly not long enough to box with the god MC, who demonstrates again why he has the flow of the century: "Niggas is homos really, but when they smokin' on purple / They get loco, but you know I know the drilly / It's for these positions, that's why I keep the biscuits / You ain't Tony Soprano, you pussy, sleep with the fishes / You know I'm reppin from that 7-1-8 / Shots to you f-in' son, class over, lesson's done". Indeed. Girl Interrupted is one of the strongest female debut albums in recent years and hopefully represents a resurgence of talented female MCs. While she inevitably will draw comparisons to other rappers like Foxy Brown, Lil' Kim, and Eve (to whose voice Ms. Jade's is eerily similar), none of those comparisons accurately reflect Jade. While the aforementioned succeed with (at best) equal parts skill and sex, Ms. Jade's biggest asset is her rhyming ability. Unfortunately, in today's rap world that may not be enough.





Masaki Kobayashi's 'Kwaidan' Horror Films Are Horrifically Beautiful

The four haunting tales of Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan are human and relatable, as well as impressive at a formal and a technical level.


The Top 10 Thought-Provoking Science Fiction Films

Serious science fiction often takes a backseat to the more pulpy, crowdpleasing genre entries. Here are 10 titles far better than any "dogfight in space" adventure.


'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.


2006's 'Flat-Pack Philosophy' Saw Buzzcocks Determined to Build Something of Quality

With a four-decade career under their belt, on the sixth disc in the new box-set Sell You Everything, it's heartening to see Buzzcocks refusing to settle for an album that didn't try something new.


'Lie With Me': Beauty, Love and Toxic Masculinity in the Gay '80s

How do we write about repression and toxic masculinity without valorizing it? Philippe Besson's Lie With Me is equal parts poignant tribute and glaring warning.


Apparat's 'Soundtrack: Capri-Revolution' Stands Alone As a Great Ambient Experience

Apparat's (aka Sascha Ring) re-imagined score from Mario Martone's 2018 Capri-Revolution works as a fine accompaniment to a meditational flight of fancy.


Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers Merge Haitian Folk and Electronic Music on 'Vodou Alé'

Haitian roots music meets innovative electronics on Chouk Bwa and the Ångströmers' Vodou Alé.

My Favorite Thing

Weird and Sweet, Riotous and Hushed: The Beatles' 'The White Album'

The Beatles' 'The White Album' is a piece of art that demonstrates how much you can stretch, how far you can bend, how big you really are. The album is deeply weird. It has mass. It has its own weather.


Sarah Jarosz Finds Inspiration in Her Texas Roots on 'World on the Ground'

By turning to her roots in central Texas for inspiration on World on the Ground, Sarah Jarosz has crafted some of her strongest songs yet.


Hinds' 'The Prettiest Curse' Is One of Victory

On The Prettiest Curse, Hinds create messy pop music that captures the vibrancy of youth without being childish.


12 Essential Performances from New Orleans' Piano "Professors"

New Orleans music is renowned for its piano players. Here's a dozen jams from great Crescent City keyboardists, past and present, and a little something extra.


Jess Williamson Reimagines the Occult As Source Power on 'Sorceress'

Folk singer-songwriter, Jess Williamson wants listeners to know magic is not found in tarot cards or mass-produced smudge sticks. Rather, transformative power is deeply personal, thereby locating Sorceress as an indelible conveyor of strength and wisdom.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.