Jovan Landry styles herself as one third film maker, one third photographer, and one third emcee. An eclectic and passionate individual and performer, she has brought together a crew to do what was, at one time, unthinkable in the business: produce a hundred percent female hip hop album. It’s through the dedication of her and the crew that put this project together that Synergy was born. Landry was kind enough to take the time to answer some of our questions about the project and what the future holds for female hip hop in Chicago and beyond. An album release and exhibition for Synergy is taking place this Friday at Columbia College, tix are $10 advance. $15 day of. Don’t miss out on what is sure to be the experience of a lifetime.
Chicago Crowd Surfer
JL: Jovan Landry
Synergy is the first project of it's kind we can find. A 100% produced female hip-hop album, with participants from all over the city appearing. What inspired you to start the venture and how excited are you to see it nearing completion?
JL: So I used to work with a woman by the name of Tequila Shabazz, who is an veteran Chicago MC and also founder of BRIJ Embassy for Black America, and we were having a conversation around 2016 and she brought up wanting to see a female hip-hop album happen. She didn't designate me to do make it happen or give me exact details on how it should look, but it sparked an idea and I wanted to bring it to life, being a woman emcee myself. Then I thought: It should [be] 100% all woman-made because that is what will make the project stand out. There are enough female rap mixtapes out there that are primarily produced by men. From there I was able to find funding through a grant from WeWork and that's when the idea became very real. I am VERY excited to see it upon completion because it's been a long time coming. This album has been through many changes, flips, and turns, and I'm ready for finally perform the music and release it for the world's ears.
Can you give us a rundown of all the artists involved?
JL: Aside from myself, we have Tweak'G, Tee Spirit, JuJu MinXXX, Sundé, Glitter Moneyyy (a rap duo comprised of Queen Trashleyyy and Tayyy Slayyy), Jade The Ivy and Sauda Muse. Seven of the 11 tracks features us all in collaboration with each other- all artists based here in Chicago. Each one of these artists were hand-picked after seeing them around in the community or seeing them perform live. I wanted artists involved on this project primarily who are up and coming, but especially those who have a message, and I admire them all for sticking around throughout the entire process of creating these album from writing, recording, and being involved [with] the photo and video shoots. I also want to give a shoutout to our producers alongside myself: Schenay Mosley, K Flow and _Qisum (_Qisum is our only producer not from or based in Chicago,) and I found these artists by either knowing them for years and through referral from social media. Our engineer who mixed and mastered our album is Viibez who I've seen in passing but was referred to me by Tweak'G. Last but not least our DJ: DJ Silent Hype and Album Artwork done by Damaly Keo.
And how can I forget? I had the pleasure to interview Chicago women hip-hop veterans. When I say veterans, I mean artists who has been in the game for over a decade and longer. Artists who came before me. The interludes that you will hear throughout the album features Chicago women artists TeQuila "Unmuvabo" Shabazz, Femcee Flipside, Ang13, Amina Ayo, Anyhilation, Lady Gemstar, Kuumba Lynx Founders Jaquanda Villegas & Jacinda Bullie, and last but not least Tasleem Jamila.
How was the atmosphere during recording? Was it a big damn celebration or down to business or a bit of both?
JL: It was definitely down to business, then celebrating it afterwards. As I said earlier, we've had lots of changes with the album such as change of artist roster and change of music, which delayed our release. So now as we come to a close on recording, mixing and masters, we, (the artists and I), can finally breathe and appreciate the time and work we've put into it. Due to everyone having different schedules, most of the us recorded separately, even though there were instances where the artists who collaborated on their song wrote it together.
After Synergy is released on the world, what comes next for Jovan Landry and the Synergy crew?
JL: As of now, we will be having a grand album release show on the same day of the release on March 15th at Columbia College Chicago with an Artist Exhibition and B-Girl Battle. We plan to perform at schools, showcases, and summer festivals, and we hope to lead a few workshops for the youth. Our past opportunities we've had were showcasing our music videos in a private screening prior to its public release at Experimental Station in January, and talking about the project at the Women in Hip-Hop Conference at St. Louis University last year in November. The possibilities are endless and we want to keep the wave rolling.
You are self-described as as one-third filmmaker, one-third photographer, one-third emcee. When do you find the time to sleep?
JL: Man... I ask myself that, too. Sometimes I can get so inspired to keep those creative juices flowing in the late night hours, but I've also learned very recently to put my physical and emotional health first. Having many hats can elevate those stress levels, so you just have to take a break and take time for you. I definitely enjoy sleeping. So if you don't stop, your body will definitely tell you itself in the way you don't want it to tell you (getting sick.)
Are there any Chicago artists you think should be getting far more attention?
JL: Am I allowed to be biased and say myself, and the artists on Synergy? Haha, but also a few other friends of mines D2G and FURY. They are the ones to come to mind. Generally, Chicago has amazing talent, and we all need more attention... I think slowly but surely we are getting there.
What are your favorite local venues to play and/or see a show?
JL: I enjoy playing festivals especially the outdoor festivals like Do Division of the Food Truck Events. I like seeing shows at Emporium in Wicker Park. I love watching my friends perform wherever they play, and I love being invited onto my friend's set to perform one of our songs. I love watching the Fly Honey Show when they have their run at The Den Theatre.