In August, Melisa Young released one of last year's best mixtapes, DUSK2DAWN: The Diary of Jane Jupiter. It was criminally slept on, not least because Young was trying on a new alter ego in the form of Jane Jupiter—older and wiser, she had outgrown Kid Sister, the moniker under which she first became popular—but also, perhaps, because it dealt with complex issues of womanhood, maturity and identity, things that have never been particularly de rigueur in rap.
Regardless, it was Young's first release in three years, and it was filled with bangers, in which her rap style had grown infinitely more formidable, and she tried her hand at singing, too. (She has new life as a kind of disco/house diva, as her Dam-Funk and Chad Hugo-featuring single "Higher" proved... in fact, let's give that one a watch right now:
In an October interview, Young and I discussed what provoked her to make the shift:
I had such a tough time emotionally in 2011, 2012. I mean, I certainly didn't know how to soothe myself and nobody else knew how to soothe me, which is why I went away. I had to take the responsibility of self-soothing. I've been head first. I started going to Kundalini meditation. I got real California about it. I might as well, while I'm here. When I started investing a lot of time in my own personal development, I realized mindfulness is such a part of living a fully realized adult life. Before, I was kind of coasting and not really thinking…If it felt good, right now, I'd do it. Everything was very impulsive. And now, everything is very mindful.
For her latest video, "Stargazing" with Chapman, she fully embodies that spiritual and emotional space, trading sensual love bars in a high-contrast video landscape reminiscent of the best, slightly grainy '90s black-and-white clips—Janet Jackson's "Love Will Never Do," Madonna's "Vogue," En Vogue's "Give It Up Turn Loose." It's an incredibly tactile video for a song that's almost entirely comprised of smooth edges and breezy bon mots, and the type of song you want to crank on the subwoofers while you're reading a book on the couch or cleaning the kitchen—real grown shit, on the edge of a dream. Do enjoy this, and definitely cop Dusk2Dawn cause it's a gem of a release.