Junglepussy is fierce, confident, and unapologetically herself. Bound by no boundaries or genres, the Brooklyn rapper first gained online recognition through her debut mixtape titled Satisfaction Guaranteed. The project even won over R&B legend Erykah Badu, who was a fan of standout record “Cream Team.”
Real name Shayna McHayle went on to unleash her first full-length album titled Pregnant With Success, a 10-track collection that focused on the importance of loving yourself and self-worth. Growing up as a young woman, she was heavily influenced by Brandy’s role in the TV show Moesha, giving her the confidence and motivation to be a strong creative of color beyond just looks. It was Brandy’s wisdom and knowledge of the culture she respected most.
Now Junglepussy teams up with Dr. Martens for a new mini-documentary which represents voices that are unheard in the mainstream, premiered exclusively on Flaunt Magazine. Shot with New York filmmaker Vincent Martell, the four-and-a-half minute clip invites fans into a first row seat into Jungle’s journey in both music and life.
This follows Jungle’s most recent single ”Spiders,” as well her recent educational lecture at Yale University.
At what point did you realize this music thing was for real?
I went thrifting and found this leopard-print, rhinestone sweater. We made this two-second video where I said “this is Junglepussy.” From then on, I just kept the name. When Twitter came out, I wanted a name that nobody would steal. In high school, I was in a rap group. We’d cut class and freestyle in the chemistry lab. My friend who did the songs “Cream Team” and “Stiches,” she’d always bring a camera to school and record us always freestyling. It was always personal for our friends, then the internet started doing what the internet did and people wanted more from me. I’m like “alright, so I’ll make one song.” I made “Cream Team,” put it out, did a video, and people loved it. I’m like “okay, I’ll do another song.” Then Erykah Badu found me, she tweeted “Cream Team” and “Stiches” like “oh my gosh, who is this girl?” I literally only had two songs at that point. I realized “I have commit to this,” and the rest is history.
How did you get your fanbase?
I appreciate the fanbase I have attracted. I just attracted them, since I didn’t know who would like me. When I put out my first song, I used to think “the black girls aren’t gonna like me.” But no, they relate. So many other people relate who I never would’ve even thought would relate to me. Even if they don’t really get it, they respect it and that’s what really busts my head open. When I travel on tour, meet people and see all these poppin’ ass people who are like ‘I love your stuff!’
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
I didn’t know what I was doing, I just wanted to make stuff. I didn’t even know I could make money off it, I didn’t care for none of that. All my life I just always made stuff, so now I had to go on this personal journey. It was beyond having access to people, I really wanted to make sure I was sharing who I really am.
How have you evolved as an artist?
Evolving as an artist is something that is everlasting. I don’t like it when people say “don’t ever get comfortable.” You definitely deserve comfort along the way, but just know you’re more than where you are now. You’re more than what you think of yourself now, remember that.
Do you hide some of yourself from your fans?
There’s so much to hold sacred, I give as much as I can. I’m the biggest introvert so sharing anything whether it be a song or my thoughts, is a big deal to me.
Can you tell us about the moment you felt successful as an artist?
Almost everyday because I like my idea of success now. I never really had one, but it often felt like something very far away. It wasn’t until I started touring I realized there are thousands of people all over the world who know the words to my songs and spend their time or money to support me. Not only that but they say it uplifts and inspires them. What more could an artist want? Besides the eradication of disease, climate change, and racism.
Making a living making music is risky business. What keeps you going?
My music career wasn’t premeditated, I’m here for a reason bigger than I can see. I would’ve chosen to be an art teacher but the way I just follow my heart, I naturally take risks. Sometimes unbeknownst to me at the moment. I like to dive in, then I get deeper and deeper. Unchartered territory excites me, more rules to ignore and norms to disrupt.