Meet London Jade, the Rugged Rapper Bringing Spiritual Affirmation to Trans Women Everywhere

Styled by Phil Gomez. Photo by Ryan Burke. Courtesy of London Jade

Members: London Jade, witch supreme
Sounds like: The spitfire flow of Junglepussy in front of a coven of powerful brujas
You should listen to London Jade because… Her flow is brazen, her lyrics are fierce, and as a trans woman, she’s not only taking up well-deserved space, but making it her own.

“I spit spells/then I cast that shit,” rapper London Jade spits from a makeshift stage. We’re at a dark warehouse in Miami, where she is the only light. “Ever seen a witch rap?” A performance by Jade feels like sacred ritual — there’s a sudden quiet ambience, the air in the space momentarily still, Jade’s glow preternatural.

The mesmerizing quality is no accident: Jade is a bruja and storyteller, her words as magic as they are deeply personal. “When you practice magic, you’re not being fake,” she says over the phone, describing that inextricable link between magic and music. It’s a few months since the performance; after five months in Miami, Jade has returned to Chicago, her home base. “You’re using your raw energy. When I spit, when I rap, it’s energy.”

Jade’s recently unveiled EP Transcendent — a follow-up to her first, Witch Hoe – explores the use of inner magic for self-empowerment and shine. It’s a marker of her growth. “I’m working with solid people who I know personally,” she says, her excitement palpable. “Jeremiah Meece, Bored Lord, Demongay are producing, and Andy Milad is engineering.”

Transcendent’s title is also a pun. As a trans woman, Jade faced bigotry and transphobia growing up — in fact, our interview takes place just weeks after an alleged hate crime in Bushwick left Jade injured and producer/DJ Jasmine Infiniti hospitalized.

Born to a Latino and Sicilian family in Queens, Jade turned to writing lyrics and faux diary entries, concurrently expressing her personal story and hiding it from prying eyes. “I would write a bunch of lies and stories about my life; I didn’t want anyone who found it to know a single thing about me. I also started writing raps — I’d write some real shit, read it, remember it, then crumble it up. On top of that, I was studying witchcraft.”

“It’s a trans guide to living your trans life comfortably.”

Jade carried those raps in her memory, singing them to herself like poetry until she moved to Chicago as a teen. She was initially reluctant to pursue music. “I thought it was going to be a bunch of cis, white males who are like, ‘No, you’re not good enough.’ I was scared to reach out. I didn’t want to risk being judged or getting hurt or set up.”

In Chicago, Jade modeled for An Authentic Skidmark, designer Kaleigh Moynihan’s line, who’s “dressed some of the most sickening drag queens.” Moynihan eventually sent one of Jade’s demos to DJ Ariel Zetina, who booked Jade’s first rap gig in the spring of 2016. Suddenly, Jade kept getting booked all over the country, and was featured in Refinery29’s video, 2000 Years of Drag: A Musical Odyssey. “My following started rising then, not overwhelmingly,” she says. “Most of the people that follow me I’ve met, hugged, kissed, had a drink with.”

She connected with folks like Infiniti and Dorian Electra, who flew her to different cities to perform, including Miami, where Jade’s genuine warmth and witchcraft background fit perfectly. The warehouse show was not her first here, but it was an archetypal performance, with Jade freestyling, hyping the crowd, using her then-boyfriend as a chair. “I channel lots of energy before I perform,” she explains. “Staying in Miami, near the Caribbean, at the Atlantic Ocean where brujería is at its highest — I really felt it.”

Being back in Chicago has left Jade time to work on Transcendent, a carrier, of sorts, of that same channeled vibe. “From a spiritual point of view, it’s a trans guide to living your trans life comfortably,” says Jade. “Here’s your booklet, an EP by this tranny rapper. It’s my definition of what transcendent is. It can be used to guide listeners — spiritually and generally.”