“I feel like I know who I am more than ever and it’s being reflected in my music”Jade Forest
Discover Jade Forest as we discuss GTA, grief, her latest project and more.
Despite being born in the home of beignets and bounce A.K.A New Orleans, LA 29-year-old singer, rapper, and songwriter Jade Forest is a Clay Co. baby, raised in Riverdale, GA a city 10 miles outside of Atlanta. Although, she was born in the birthplace of Lil Wayne and raised in the birthplace of OutKast, it wasn’t until she moved to Clayton County in the 6th grade that Jade was able to immerse herself into the world of hip-hop.
Gospel music is what surrounded Jade until her sister introduced her to R&B and Rap. At the age of 4 or 5 she began singing in the church choir and her mother kept the radio on the Gospel station but a shift happened when she was gifted the game Grand Theft Auto after moving to to Riverdale. If you’ve ever played GTA, you’re probably familiar with the game’s radio stations. “Radio Los Santos had Tupac, NWA with and without Ice Cube, Snoop, Compton’s Most Wanted going crazy. I would play the game just to listen to the radio,” Forest reminisces. “All of this led me to becoming a student of the game. I feel like I could tell any person the full history of hip hop,” she continued. But, it wasn’t until high school when she was assigned to complete a class project on Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird that she discovered her calling to become an artist. Jade recalls the life changing event, “I rapped over (Tupac’s) Dear Mama and got a loud round of applause. Anyone who saw that should not be surprised as to how I ended up an artist. My English teacher made sure I was in the poetry club after that.” All of this has led to the Jade you hear today.
When you listen to Jade’s latest project, Reign Forest, you’re listening to years of evolution and a time of self-discovery. “I was in a space of discovering what I wanted my “sound” to be for this moment of time because it’s constantly evolving,” Forest stated about the making of her 2022 EP. All of the songs on Reign Forest with the exception of “Ghost” Jade began writing before 2020.
2020 was a difficult year for the world and particularly for Jade due to the loss of her mother. When asked about where she is physically, mentally, spiritually and if it’s inspiring the music she’s currently creating Jade opened up about her journey of healing and grieving process, “I was still grinding while dealing with my greatest loss,” she states. As artists do, Jade turned to music and her other creative endeavors to cope but, that didn’t heal the pain…it only masked it. Jade came to this realization and began to face her grief head on which has caused her to evolve not only personally but musically, “I started going to therapy and having a real self moment. I feel like I know who I am more than ever and it’s being reflected in my music.”
As for what’s next from Jade Forest, we can expect her music to reflect her healing journey as she continues to grow, transform, and flourish. You can catch Jade’s metamorphosis live in Atlanta, October 14 when she takes the stage at the After Summer Ends music festival.
Read Jade Forest’s interview below.
Everything GOOD:When and how did you discover your musical talent?
Jade Forest: I started out in the church choir when I was like 4 or 5. I also knew when I was in elementary school that I could make words rhyme. I remixed a lot of songs just for fun in my adolescence. By the time I got to high school, I was more into athletics. My creative gifts kind of sat on the sidelines. It wasn’t until I was in 9th or 10th grade and I had to do a class project for the book, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” We had to summarize this book in a creative way. I rapped over Dear Mama and got a loud round of applause. Anyone who saw that should not be surprised as to how I ended up an artist. My English teacher made sure I was in the poetry club after that. I remember first recording myself in 11th grade on my mom’s computer. I had to do everything in one take without messing up. I pray those recordings are still not on YouTube! I didn’t even record in a professional studio until I graduated high school. I played basketball all of high school until after my first year of college. Since I’ve basically been a creative being my whole life, transitioning out of sports into my creativity was honestly very easy. I was always drawing, writing, and doing whatever I could as a way of expressing myself. I transferred to an art school for college and started working at a studio doing graphic design and marketing when I became an upperclassman. The more I learned about the business of music and the more I existed in a creative environment, the more I couldn’t see myself not at least trying. I think once you get the ball rolling on music and you realize that you have been acting in a space of love regarding it, it’s almost impossible to stop. I also had a few friends who encouraged me and wouldn’t let me stop even after facing very difficult times in my life.
Who did you grow up listening to and do these artists influence your music?
Since I grew up in the church, my mother kept the radio on the gospel station. It wasn’t until my sister introduced me to a lot of music. It was mostly R&B: Destiny’s Child, Mariah Carey, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill, Usher, Alicia Keys. I think her favorite was Musiq Soulchild. She was also the one who introduced me to rap, even though it isn’t her favorite. I feel like the first rap song I remember was The Real Slim Shady. I remember rap music being played around me in doses because of my age and the content. It wasn’t until I was in 6th grade, when I moved to the southside (Riverdale, Clayton County) and my friend’s parents bought me Grand Theft Auto. I immersed myself in rap music at that point in time. Radio Los Santos had Tupac, NWA with and without Ice Cube, Snoop, Compton’s Most Wanted going crazy. I would play the game just to listen to the radio. All of this led me to becoming a student of the game. I feel like I could tell any person the full history of hip hop.
Your last project was an EP titled Reign Forest, what inspired this project and what was the creative process like?
Reign Forest is kind of a compilation of songs that I had been sitting on for years. The purpose of this was more so that of an introduction of what I had been working on sonically. I was in a space of discovering what I wanted my “sound” to be for this moment of time because it’s constantly evolving. My creative process for this involved a deep dive into beats and already written records. The newest song on my project is “Ghost.” Everything else I had was written or in its initial phases before 2020. I have two collaborations on this that were new, but the majority of this is composed of older concepts. I’m also a lowkey perfectionist, so a lot of these were rerecorded multiple times. I still wanted a raw feel to them. I feel like I spent so much time on just five records. Recording was extensive. Mixing the records was even more extensive. Mastering, copywriting, marketing, performing, touring, and everything else I did for this is why I’m taking my time with these new records.
Describe your music using only 3 words.
Intentional, Versatile, Human.
What artists/songs have you been listening to heavily lately?
I’ve been diving into more DJ mixes that I find on Soundcloud and YouTube. I have a friend who just put me on Soulection Radio and I feel like I was lost and now I’m found. I mostly listen to R&B and a little jazz. It can be hard to listen to rap nowadays. There is a lot of talent out here, but the feeling is missing for me. If I could give you a list of my favorite songs for the past few months: 1. Mad at Fire – Elmiene, 2. Superstitious (ChopNotSlop) – Ambre, 3. Third Floor – XNE (Indie Artist Homie), 4. Double Up – Nipsey Hussle , 5. Think About You – Tiana Major9
What space are you in your life right now physically, mentally, spiritually and is it inspiring and influencing the music that you’re making right now?
Interesting question. I actually talk about this alot. I am in a space of stillness. I lost my mother back in 2020 and I don’t think I was able to fully process every emotion because I was consumed by so many external factors. The past few years felt like a constant state of war, both internally and externally. Music is one of the ways we as artists heal ourselves, so I couldn’t stop doing that. At least, I thought so. So I was still grinding while dealing with my greatest loss. My creative business was thriving and I ended up on tour in 2022 a few months before I dropped my project. From the outside looking in, I was doing everything that made me look like I was someone everyone should be proud of, but I was hurting internally because I wasn’t processing my grief. After my team and I did all of that work last year, I knew I needed a break. I started going to therapy and having a real self moment. I feel like I know who I am more than ever and it’s being reflected in my music and my interpersonal relationships. I’m very proud of myself for my healing journey and I know I did the right thing by taking a moment to breathe here.
So far what has been the best part of your journey as an artist?
Definitely the relationships. I’ve fostered a lot of beautiful relationships in music and in life. None of what I have been able to accomplish happens without the love that I have been given by others. I’m very thankful for my community.
Are you solely pursuing music or are there other passions you have that you are currently or plan on pursuing?
Music is probably my main one, but I also run a creative agency that specializes in branding, graphic design, and photography. I just want to be recognized as one of the GOATs when it comes to creativity. I don’t see myself as just a musical artist, even as this is what I love the most.
Has summer 2023 taught you anything about yourself, life, music?
Summer 2023 has taught me to just take the time to enjoy life. Every event doesn’t have to be about networking or opportunities. They may still present themselves, but I know that life is my greatest inspiration in music. I have to live it to understand it. I also realize that I’m one of those artists who makes gumbo. I don’t have a microwavable recipe that pumps a bunch of unthoughtful music into the atmosphere. Making gumbo takes however long it wants to and that’s how I feel about music. WAIT!
What can we expect next from Jade Forest?
Music that represents who I am at this moment in life and who I am at my core. Also, more content and collaborations.
Follow Jade Forest on Instagram @iamjadeforest
Listen to Jade Forest on the Discovering playlists:
Discovering Spotify playlist
Article cover image photographed by Chase Soufflé.
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