Mixing sensibilities of multiple genres and wrapping them in a grime package is a bold statement, one that Tamara Jenna encapsulates perfectly.
In a predominantly male dominated scene such as Hip-Hop, there’s always going to be this huge push back when something comes to shake up the status quo. As time goes by, many female artists have made a statement that they can hang with the big boys in these genres, taking on the more gritty subject matter and taking the forefront with their own rap flow.
Snakes and Ladders immediately puts a fine point on that subject, with a fast flow of lyrics that encapsulate personal themes as well as more broad subject matters. Lines about discrimination, growing up rough, and being stabbed in the back are all present here. The title sums up the general idea of that climb to the top whilst trying to avoid those around you pushing you back down. Backed by an ethereal trap style tune that has some significant breaks to let the song breath for a moment, the composition works extremely well with both the lyrical delivery and the thematic elements of the track.
The second track takes on the more laid back Hip-Hop and R&B, feel rather than the hard edge Rap style of Snakes and Ladders. Confidence has a much more restrained style, with vocals that are quiet and gentle. These are accentuated by spoken word phone messages that fill in for backing vocals in a clever twist. There’s a gentle feel throughout, fitting the more strained subject matter of needing space to breathe when there’s an overbearing partner there with suspicions of more malicious goings on. The repetitious nature captures that Trap style well, bringing your attention fully to the music and letting you experience it rather than just listen.
Under Construction retreads the ground that Snakes and Ladders covered, but this time with much more scathing lyrics. Filled with references to other artists, current events and personal subject matter, it doesn’t pull any punches in it’s delivery. The use of more explicit lyrics just adds onto the punchiness of it, something that Rap and genres inspired by it have always been known for. But once again it breaks the mould, and shows that a female artist can come out and bite back just as hard as her contemporaries.
Under Construction as an EP showcases how Tamara Jenna is determined to push herself hard to make her voice heard. There’s a gritty determination that saturates her songs with this intent in a fantastic way, backed up by a spot on delivery that never tries to sugarcoat anything or emulate more traditional female vocalists. It lives up to the name and shows that she’s ‘under construction’ as an artist and hasn’t hit her best work just yet, but she’s certainly on her way there.