- Words Aimee Phillips
- Photography Jennifer Arieleno-O’Neil
Get to know London-based South African rapper, Dope Saint Jude, as she releases her 'Higher Self' EP, talking all things manifestation, alternate universes and therapeutic creation.
Like many artists, Dope Saint Jude’s love of music began young, but the epiphany to pursue it full time came from performing as a drag king in the troupe that she founded in her home of Cape Town. Ever since, Dope Saint Jude has made her name through bumping, stadium-ready melodies, and often political lyrics.
Moving to London pre-pandemic, the stillness of the world offered Dope Saint Jude an opportunity for introspection and set her on a path of self-discovery and personal growth, the results of which are reflected in her sophomore EP, ‘Higher Self’, released today. Her earlier work [see 2018’s “Grrrl Like” and 2020’s “Go High Go Low”] emanated a confident come-up swagger, which is still very much present on Dope Saint Jude’s new project, but her creative evolution is clear. Pre-released single “Home” features a darker, more electronic melody, while “For You” mixes ethereal vocoder vocals with hard beats and powerful bars. Lyrics-wise, Jude continues to channel empowerment, but on ‘Higher Self’, there is more of a focus on spiritual elevation.
We caught up with Dope Saint Jude to dive deeper into the new EP, the importance of costume in her artistic visuals, the artists she’s loving right now, and manifestations for 2022.
You have been on a path of personal growth and self-discovery, which has culminated in your new EP, the aptly titled ‘Higher Self’. Was this path a deliberate and conscious one?
I have been on a journey of self-improvement for a few years now, so it is in my nature to want to grow. However, I did not expect the pandemic and the solace and reflection it would bring. So the extent of growth was not deliberate, but I am so happy about it.
What did this journey look like?
I spent some time away from social media. I was away from friends and family and had to create a sense of routine and purpose for myself. I started writing, meditating, working out and doing things that bring me joy. The hardest part was being off social media. I did not realise how much the validation of others fed me. So for a while, I felt depressed and lost. Eventually, it wore off and I became more in touch with what I really enjoy.
Did the creation of ‘Higher Self’ aid this process?
Yes, creating this EP was therapeutic. I speak about things on this project that have long been on my mind snd that I need to lay to rest. I feel like I got to know myself better in this project, become more empathetic and secure in myself.
Which song from the EP best reflects this growth and shows your strength as a person?
The title track, “Higher Self”. It is a testament to picking oneself up after falling down.
What do you hope listeners learn about themselves by listening to the EP?
I hope they can use my message of hope as an anchor on their journey to self-acceptance, self-discovery and self-love.
I love the stunning costumes featured in the music video for EP single “Home”, which emanate power and female sensuality. Elsewhere, you don a suit of armor for the “For You” single cover art. How important do you see the role of costume in your artistic visuals? How do you select costumes?
Costume is extremely important in further communicating the intent of the music. It is an expansion of the universe of the music. I select costumes by working very closely with stylists and art directors I trust. For the “Home” music video, I worked with Gemma Swan in London. And for the “For You” video, I worked with Gavin Mikey Collins in Cape Town. Both of these stylists are extremely talented at what they do and have a very clear understanding of who I am. This elevates the clothing and amplifies the intent of the music.
Which songs from the EP are you most excited to play live?
The track “For You”. I have already played it a few times with my band and it is so incredibly powerful live.
Which songs or artists have you been listening to a lot lately?
I have been listening to Londrelle (Manifesting Money) a lot recently, as well as Danitsa (Mr Business) and I always stay listening to Janet Jackson.
In an alternate universe, what do you think you would be, if not a musician?
I love this question! Knowing what I know now, I would love to be a carpenter or a hedge trimmer (and in the alternative universe I would earn really well doing that).
Do you believe in manifestation? What are you manifesting for 2022?
Of course I do. I am manifesting joy, peace of mind, and health for all people working towards it, and myself of course. More specifically, I am manifesting career growth, learning to do the splits, and overall happiness.