Nobody's Juicier Than MISS MOJO

Nobody's Juicier Than MISS MOJO

by Fatima Jamal

MISS MOJO is no stranger to the stage — she was made for it. An eclectic amalgamation of all the media she’s consumed from a child until now, the glimmer in her eyes, her dazzling presence and the way she commands a room suggests she has always imagined her name in bright city lights. Her newly released EP, Juicy, is a testament to this. Just a few seconds in and you’re immediately transported into a world that strongly holds and lifts up the vision of self she has given birth to: a fat Black femme MC from Brooklyn. Behold!

Spanning from experimental house, melodic hip hop and bounce sounds, Juicy calls forth a particular '90s New Millennium nostalgia. It time travels in such a way that feels like a rollercoaster ride, looping and twisting in the most exhilarating, non-linear fashion. In that way, it is also cinematic.

I imagine being pulled into a television screen where Girl 326 appears first in an ad for a sweet citrus juice, called "Juicy." “Juicy is your orange juice in the morning,” she says softly and seductively. The juice splashes on screen, cutting to an orange-themed bedroom where we encounter MISS MOJO in a vanity doing her makeup. She readies herself to enter Pan Paradise, a fantasy world of sorts, where she tells the whole of the attendees whom it is all for: Femme Queens. She leaves Pan Paradise with a Bang, politicking with a New Orleans twist. We’re in the car now. MISS MOJO, of course, opens the sunroof to ride with her hair blowing in the wind, shooting a gun in the air. She descends as the car arrives at the next location, a nightclub where it all ends. The rest is whatever!

Juicy was made possible by the support of the Black Trans Femmes in the Arts (BTFA) Collective, a community-based arts organization with a mission of helping Black trans femme artists break through the art world landscape. They supported music production, studio time, photoshoots and served as counselors to the project. MISS MOJO is also part of BTFA’s planning committee, a task she is not new to. The founder and often host of Paint and Poetry, a Brooklyn cult legend (2012-2018), she has been using art to bring people together, and most importantly into the MOJO DISCO experience for years. Juicy is no different.

We spoke ahead of her performance at Brooklyn’s Three Dollar Bill for OTA Weekly (Open To All Entertainment), a Monday night staple for New York City’s Ballroom scene. The result, a conversation only girlfriends can conjure up, has been condensed for your reading pleasure.

Hello MISS MOJO. Are you calling in live from Pan Paradise?

[Laughs] Hey, my sweet sister. I’m most definitely in a mental paradise right now. The pansexual part is just the condom on top.

I can only imagine the high you’re feeling now that Juicy is in the world. How does it feel?

It feels complete. For the first time in a while, I was able to embark on something completely out of my expertise and comfort zone. The process of conception to completion is so important.

"The beats made the lyrics cum like water."

Indeed. Tell me more about the process. How long did it take? Who did you work with?

The process took eight months. It would have been done sooner if the COVID vaccine ain’t take me out both doses. But nonetheless, everything happened in divine timing. This was my first time stepping out of the ghostwriter position, so I went on a manhunt looking for producers to work with. It was very important to me to work with people that had a sound that didn’t sound like anything out now. I approach music from a timeless standpoint. I feel that when you chase a popular sound you mark your creative journey; thus always having to follow and keep up with the Jones. Not I said the cat! I wanted tracks that when you hear them, you only think of me! Once I locked in SilkyBlack, Don Crescendo, and DJ Chopp-A-Lot, the rest was easy. The beats made the lyrics cum like water.

The project is most certainly you, but the beauty of music is that it is intertextual. I hear many people listening to your music. Kimberly Jones (obviously), Kelis, Biggie, etc. Who are your influences?

You pretty much clocked the grand three. I would also have to add Missy Elliott, Eve, Queen Pen and Ms. Melodie, a fat Black femcee from Flatbush who was down with Boogie Down Productions. She never got the credit she deserved.

That makes sense. I know how important it is to witness fat Black women spitting fire. And I love the way that history and audacity envelop you and your confidence. Talk me through your journey.

I come from a long line of fat Black women — women who were always fly and always in the know of where they were going. In a way, they prepared me for the world by just existing. Before BBW was a thing, there were the Phat Chicks (My mom and aunties) and they set the standard. My confidence comes most from being super real about who I am and being able to laugh about who I am not.

That’s right. We share that. Does it ever feel burdensome or heavy to carry?

Never, it literally gets me through. My identity, although unique, is bigger than me. There are many people in the world who don’t see it for me, but here’s the thing: I see it for myself. I am truly fortunate to love myself in a divine way. That divinity will outlive me and inspire the many future Miss Mojo’s for generations to come.

"There are many people in the world who don’t see it for me, but here’s the thing: I see it for myself."

Mhm. How do you fill your cup to keep yourself going, not to tire out? Are you cultivating time to deeply rest?

I think balance keeps the Alizé abundant in my cup. Alizé being a metaphor for my juice, of course. I go extremely hard with my art cause I go extremely hard with my rest. I don’t have the luxury of being completely off the grid, but I am deeply invested in saying no to things that don’t serve me or I don’t have the energy for. Rest for me is as simple as putting my phone on do not disturb, eating a bowl of cereal, and watching TheGolden Girls all day.

I wouldn’t expect anything less than from Nikki Parker Jr. Can you tell me more about your love for Mo’Nique and the many ways you revive her spirit on screen through your work and online presence?

“Beyoncé! Okay, girl!” That clip from the BET awards pretty much sums up how I show up in the world. In my glory and accolades, I always find the time to lift up another sister! I love Mo’Nique in the way you love the fly, rich Auntie at Thanksgiving dinner. Always watching in awe and learning. Interestingly enough, I don’t think I’d be upset if I never met her. They say never meet your idols anyway. Her work as a plus-size public figure is enough for me. She has given me the gift of nerve through her art forms. I channel that whenever I can.

Cause it do take nerve!

Mad nerve! How dare she exist in all that bawdy?

What do you make of being a mirror for others to see and confront themselves? To find that gift of nerve like you did.

To be honest, it feels purposeful. I’ve always been that. From childhood to now, I have always been that mirror. I truly believe that is why I am the carrier of bones and the teller of secrets. The singer of songs. The grace of silence and the chaos of the storm. I may not be the church, but I am the gospel. I know these things about myself and those who know, know.

What’s one thing you would reach back or reach forward to say/do/offer to iterations of yourself years past and years to come?

Dear young me: you’re not gay, you’re free; Teen me: no dick in the world will replace the love your father never gave you; Adult me: trust yourself more than you trust others; Future me: it was all worth it. Your tuck wasn't in vain.

"Tomorrow isn’t promised. Rob the trade tonight."

[Laughs] It’s not all in vain!

Cause up the road, I’ma fleet again!

You are so silly. Jokes aside, though, how does it feel to be free, MISS MOJO?

“Folks don't like nobody being too proud, or too free.” That line from The Color Purple sits behind my eyelids. I feel endangered. My freedom has always come with a price tag. Sooner or later I may not have the due balance. But until then, I’ll continue to dance through it all. It’s truly all I have in this world.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Tomorrow isn’t promised. Rob the trade tonight.

Photography: J. Monroe
Banner: Ada Blake Visuals