Referencing religion and its aesthetics in pop culture has always been a contentious hot topic. For Brooklyn artist and rapper Jay Boogie, however, that’s just part of his daily life. And his latest album – “Jesus Loves Me Too” – out now, bears witness to his artistic and spiritual growth. “The idea definitely comes from a spiritual place,” Jay says. “But not as a personal crisis many gay men go through after a certain age. It has a lot to do with getting baptised a couple of years ago in my church back in the Dominican Republic. It helped me understand faith as personal thing.” But that hasn’t cooled his fire; it just made it more complex. The album blends gospel and burning beats while featuring lyrics about sexuality, politics and race, punctuated by her signature purr.
“‘Jesus Loves Me Too’ is about owning your tenacity,” Jay says. “And being the person you are rather than the person you’re supposed to be.” Above all, Jay Boogie is making people question themselves. “When I read comments discussing whether someone with my tattoos would really be loved by Jesus I just thought ‘mission accomplished’.” Jay’s tenacity is also heavily influenced by his family and track “Venti” even features his mum Lily rolling out advice every 20-year-old should tattoo on their arms. Some of it includes: value yourself; safe sex is the best sex; marry yourself; enemas are bad for your ass; put your fucking phone down and dance – take your pick.
To celebrate “Jesus Loves Me Too”, SLEEK shot an exclusive editorial where Jay Boogie re-interprets the most iconic saints in Afro-caribbean culture. “In the DR everyone is assigned a saint and mine is Santa Barbara,” he explains about the Catholic martyr who’s traditionally pictured with a sword that represents strength and a chalice that refers to her conversion. Another saint featured in the shoot is Santa Marta La Dominadora who’s pictured with a snake and known for being a go-getter. “She manages to dominate her circumstances and that’s why I really relate to her,” Jay says. “She’s like, ‘if I want that man I’ll get that man, if I want that money I’ll get that money’. And likewise I create and control my own world.”
“‘Jesus Loves Me Too’ is about owning your tenacity” – Jay Boogie
“Like Santa Marta, I create and control my own world” – Jay Boogie
Jay Boogie’s next show is in NYC with a live band at Teatro Latea on 23 September. Head over to www.joelnewyork.com to get your tickets and for dates in US, Canada and Europe in October 2017