In one of this year's most explosive singles, Meanjin based Fijian rapper Jesswar takes her rightful seat on the throne with 'Venom'.
Meanjin-based Fijian rapper Jesswar makes her long-awaited return this week with an almighty, fearless and exemplary new single and video. Titled 'Venom', this track sees Jesswar put everyone on notice: she's done waiting for her throne and she's taking it for herself now. Released alongside visuals directed by Colin Jeffs and Kevin Bar, which serve as an invitation for viewers to experience unbridled Pasifika excellence, there is no mistaking Jesswar's intent with this single. She's not fucking around, so in her words, "Come and get it."
Reflecting on her career "as a stereotype of modern assimilation and trickle-down diversity" according to a press release, Jesswar said of her single, “I wrote ‘Venom’ in 30 mins. I felt I had been muzzled in the Australian music industry and that definitely inspired the lyrics. I felt I'd been stifled so much that this chant erupted into what is now the track. I truly felt fearless, unbound and untouchable. ‘Venom’ is a war cry from the front line, I say it with my chest ‘COME AND GET IT’.”
The visuals are intrinsically tied to Jesswar's values and deep pride in herself as a Fijian woman and in her community. She said, “It’s extremely important that my community is seen and seeing all the sissy’s come through felt like I had an army behind me. Venom is the perfect introduction into the world I’ve been dreaming up.”
Director Colin Jeffs adds, “We became heavily inspired by the Marvel/DC universes to portray Jess almost as a badass comic book character. The whole underground theme, looks and colors were inspired by movies like the Matrix and the slew of DC movies out there.”
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'Venom' is so unapologetically her, from her throne made of palms to her cowrie shell sunglasses, flanked by an army of strong women simultaneously worshipping at her altar and also wilding out as her equals. Her single bar hits so hard, with Jesswar calculated and concise with every single lyric, even going as far as to reference her own single, 'Savage' as a way of threading one of her biggest releases thus far with this new era (which coincidentally actually has the lyric "All these snakes, I'm immune to their venom" for some context). From self-assertive lines like "I'm venomous, I'm all four elements/ My enemies are envious and jealous of this excellence," to clocking those who have done her wrong and reminding them that she doesn't forget or forgive in "I know they waiting for the day that I leave/ But I wrote this song just to haunt them in their dreams," 'Venom' isn't so much as a warning shot as it is Jesswar firing off a bazooka and letting everyone know the time for warnings has passed. She's heading straight to the top.
As the clip ends, Jesswar takes her rightful seat on the throne, looking straight down the lens of the camera. It's this moment that reinforces the song and everything Jesswar has achieved up until now. She sits on the throne and looks to the next chapter, finally commencing what a few of us have known all along: an unstoppable career ahead of her. This is an artist who, despite setbacks and difficulties, has continued to grind and hustle, never once taking a moment for granted or a lesson unlearned. She's continually proved herself more than capable, and with each and every release up until now, she has developed a razor sharp sense of artistic identity and integrity in her music. Now, as she releases 'Venom', she arrives with perhaps her most powerful weapon yet: her genuine authenticity. Jesswar knows exactly who she is and what she's capable of, and there is absolutely not stopping her now.
'Venom' is out now. Buy/stream here.
Words by Emma Jones
Image: Georgia Wallace