So, who is this soulchild with this different signature style? An artist recognized for her tantalizing “madd calm voice,” laid back fits, honest lyrics and reflective themes that Brown Sugar fans can describe as “delicious and nutritious.”
Jen Be is an Asian-American artist, a New York native, songwriter, rapper, singer, musician and serious foodie. Jen Be is known to inspire audiences globally by combining her fresh take on old-school sound and seasoning it with raw and authentic lyrics. Her unique blend of hip-hop and r&b is peppered with undercurrents of reggae and soul, accentuating her profound poetry. Jen Be’s music is a sweet and savory dish; carefully crafted to serve the hungry heart and enlighten all senses.
“I’ma ask you again, when did you fall in love with hip-hop?”
Jen Be laughs at the movie reference (one of her fav’s) and takes a serious moment before answering. Maybe I misread the “serious moment,” and it was just her contemplating how many Shake Shack fries she could cram into her mouth and still coherently say, “Unlike Sid, I can’t pinpoint the exact day or time. For me, it was gradual...a relationship I was in but completely unaware of. As a child, I was often left with the TV and radio for my company. Somehow, music made me feel less alone; heard--even though I was the one listening, seen--even though I was the one watching. It was much later on when I realized music was the only food for my soul.”
Perhaps to understand why her journey to get here took a little longer than we’d have liked, we need to discuss culture. Jen Be is of Filipino descent. Growing up in an Asian American home, she, like all Asians, were ingrained with the universal commandments: 1. Obey your parents. (Not only does Jen Be still obey her parents, but she actually has a healthy loving relationship with them!) 2. Education, education, education. (Yup, you should check out her handwriting and degree & certifications!) 3. You will be a nurse...or something in the medical field. 4. You will learn to play a musical instrument. Not to fall in love with music or to pursue a career in it but to be the ultimate, well-rounded human. (By the way, Jen Be started with a little piano, was forced to play clarinet and finally got the opportunity to learn guitar and some bass) Wait, how did she not get disowned or break her family’s heart and bypass commandments 1 and 4 to get here then? Yeah, scroll up and re-read the commentary for commandments 1-4.
“Little did I know how much Hip Hop would be a part of my life.” Always having music around but never making it a priority (refer back to the commandments); Jen Be realized her talent for writing and rapping during spoken word performances and open mics like C.I.P.H.E.R. Tuesdays. Even though audiences lavished her with praise and excitement, self doubt and self consciousness kept her from diving into her newfound talents.
“Growing up, I didn’t see or hear anyone that looked like me in the entertainment world. I remember the first female Asian rapper I ever saw was Masia One when I was in high school. Who was I? I couldn’t fathom making it to the top while being a female Asian rapper. It was simply ridiculous.”
There was a time when Jen Be really wanted to be a DJ; but, never became one due to a surprising realization. Her epiphany was the catalyst that jump started her career in songwriting, rapping, and singing. “Again, unlike Sid’s character, as I grew up, Hip Hop didn’t grow with me. There were countless times I found myself unable to relate with the lyrical content of my beloved Hip Hop. I realized I didn’t want to be a DJ, playing songs that were one dimensional, unrelatable to me, and or inappropriate for kids. That’s when it hit me, I will be the one who writes the songs DJ’s will select and play.”
First step? The name. Ohh, so Jen Be isn’t just an abbreviation of your government?? It turns out our girl here actually put different names in the Wutang name generator and when she put in Jen Be, the meaning for it was, profound ninja. How kickass is that?! “But the ‘Be’ is a symbolic verb to me. ‘Be’ is for me to finally let myself ‘Be’ my one true self. The person God intended me to be. To NOT be a people pleaser or to try to live up to other people’s expectations and desires. Being the me God created me to be, encourages others to be who He created them to be, at least, that’s my prayer. I know we are all born with gifts and talents. I believe that we have the opportunities to discover each one and develop them and have a responsibility to share them. My dream is for all my listeners to simply ‘Be’ who they were truly meant to be.”
Jen Be is devoted to crafting "the perfect verse over a tight beat" but with a new take--lyrical content that’s relatable, reflective, and uplifting. She is a voice of hope, encouragement, and empowerment. When composing, Jen Be has three core principles she’d like her listeners to be reminded of. 1. You are loved. 2. Believe in yourself. 3. Go discover your gifts and use them!
“Now, I’ll quote Sid, ‘I always thought, one day I would outgrow my relationship with hip-hop...I thought it would be an adolescent memory I’d look back on, like a crush on the captain of the football team…’ And in a way, I did outgrow it. I outgrew the content. My taste buds matured and I craved hip-hop with substance...A hip-hop that loved me, fueled me, made me reflect and question, a hip-hop that understood me. I think, now, my music encompasses that and my hope is for all my listeners to be nourished by it. Now, ‘I don’t have to pretend with hip-hop and hip-hop doesn’t have to pretend with me. My feelings have never been more clear and I know they will never go away.’”
Although new to the scene, Jen Be has already collaborated with DJ Pain 1, CHOPS, L-Muzik Band, Kyle Lucas, C-Note and non-profits such as One By One International Inc, Art Collision, Nomi Network, STK the Producer, ShahanaK, Tan Brown, Noo, Justaplanekid and Koreone. Her most recent collaboration, "You Gotta Chill" featuring Justaplanekid was nominated as finalist in the 2019 USA Songwriting Competition and was remixed by CHOPS. She will soon be releasing her second single, "Champion" feat. Koreone honor of the Philippine's first Olympic gold medal in light of the Asian American landscape in the US.
She is currently working on further collaborations and of course, traveling to new spots to satisfy her insatiable belly desires and whims. If you wanna ask for food rec’s, share a dope food spot, dish out a secret recipe, kick it at the park, binge watch K-Dramas or Disney movies while inhaling pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, orrr are in need of a chill car sesh:
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