Written by: Joshua Eferighe
For some, Chicago is nothing more than a trendy nickname clouded by stats and misconceptions, but for others, they see it as home- a place where bright minds thrive and - as a Heavn. In an social atmosphere that is the most sensitive as it’s been in a while, it’s almost confirmation that Jamila had this specific project to offer, and even more confirming that she specifically was the one to share it.
You can look at her BA Degree in African Studies from the prestigious Brown University and say she’s has the knowledge for a message. You can look at her close influences in Toni Morrison or her involvement organizing Louder Than A Bomb (the largest poetry festival in the word) and agree on her expertise in prose and free hand. Or possibly you point out her appearance on a string of features from acclaimed artist -“Sunday Candy” with Donnie Trumpet last year, followed by her contribution on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “White Privilege II” earlier this year, which she doubled up by featuring on Chance’s “Blessings” a few months after. However you you look it, one thing is clear: her talent, songwriting experience, and community activism all make what she has to say Haevn that more important.
You can tell from the project’s single, “LSD” where Jamila’s focus lied. The acronym, which stands for Chicago’s Lake Shore Drive, is a love letter to the city. Employing the windy city's favorite son, Chance The Rapper, she sings: “I will never leave you, i'm everything you need, even when you break me down, your water always saves me.” In a city nicknamed after violence, it’s positive to have words of affirmation, which is the theme of Jamila’s entire album - seeing the city as a haven for love, not a war ground.
When you listen to Jamila you hear a unique voice that croons of wide-eyed experience. The entire album is put together with minute inflections and intricate adjustments which makes the listening experience consistent throughout. Songs like “Breadcrumbs” for example, which features Donnie Trumpet, gives you everything you want in a song today while maintaining integrity to music essentials: heavy 808’s, rich vocals and donnie doing what he does best - giving chilling trumpet runs to complete the piece. They knew what they were doing putting this project together.
What's most encouraging was being able to witness how many Chicago artist showed support through features and contributions. The buzz, which has become larger than a buzz - more of a renaissance really- has been able to expand the way it has through sharing spotlight on fellow local and talented artist. We’ve seen it happen with the Save Money crew, as well as other musicians like BJ the Chicago Kid and Anderson.Paak. Heavn has features from Saba, Peter Cottontale, Chance The Rapper and Noname just to name a few, and in result a worthy talent has the spotlight she deserves.
Check Out Jamila Woods Project on her soundcloud