Jalaya Hollis Gets Right to the “Point”

The song “Point” off Jalaya’s fourth EP of 2019, called Fast Food 2 is a pretty massive departure from the heartfelt realism and lyrical introspection of her 2017 release, “Dream Killas.”

Jalaya Hollis is a female MC, whose humble beginnings in Sacramento California inspired her to first begin making music. Now living in LA and signed to MaeDay Records, it appears that, happily, Jalaya’s situation has since improved. She claims to make music “based on [her] mood” and doesn’t affiliate herself with just one style classification within the genre. She says sometimes she’s conscious, sometimes she’s trap.

Jalaya Hollis first came into our view back in 2017, when Complex interviewed her for their Pigeons and Planes series. The article focused on her then new-release, “Dream Killas” which was made in a studio that had been built inside the youth shelter where she was primarily living at the time. The song was hailed for its honest bars and its harrowing introspection on the struggles of poverty and the hardships of street life. It was a bitter sweet, deeply felt gem, and I think everyone expected more of that to come out of Hollis. She enjoyed some remarkable trajectory during that time period, too. Just prior to her interview with Complex, she had the good fortune of knowing someone who knew someone who knew someone and was able to use that connection to land a spot in one of Chris Brown’s writing sessions, working on his song “Royalty.” Though her writing was ultimately passed on, just landing the opportunity gave her an instantaneous level-up in the industry.

The song “Point” off Jalaya’s fourth EP of 2019, called Fast Food 2 is a pretty massive departure from the heartfelt realism and lyrical introspection of her 2017 release, “Dream Killas.” With lyrics all repeating the same central theme of what to do when faced with a “broke nigga,” it is either exactly what a broke woman wants to jam out with her friends to, or else it is exactly the kind of song you make when you’re not broke anymore, and don’t want to be weighed down with the financial dependency of a man who hasn’t been as successful as you are. Her vocals sit narrow and thin in the mix, like she just jumped on a pre-made mp3 and didn’t bother with a vocal chain afterwards. This sounds harsh, but the raw-vocal effect isn’t actually bad (she’s blessed with a naturally appealing voice), it’s just — very noticeable. Jalaya sounds a little like a modern MC Lyte, and a little like Cardi B in her early, early days. Also a bit like City Girls, who have the same narrow, top-sitting vocals and the at-home-recording sound. Her flow, periodically, adopts a dramatically upward-pitching lilt at the end of each bar on the rhyming word, allowing for a satisfying sense of repetition in her flow, but creating a little bit of distraction from the overall song. These problems either all come down to issues with production, or, if they were designed to be this way, then it all comes down to a matter of personal taste and artistic license.

The beat, by producer Yung Pear, is a very stripped down version of trap style beats, with an almost-TDE-like choral chant of “ooh”s and “ahh”s which have been tapped out in a pleasing repetition, then expertly chopped until they can support a good deal of the rhythmic movement for the song. Other than some lo-fi trap drums (which are minimal, in terms of a standard trap beat), there is very little else in the beat to comment on. It is without any other bells or whistles. Her song “Point” may just be a little overly to-the-point, and the understated vocals and minimalist instrumental may be over simplified simply because of the sheer volume of work she’s been turning out as of late (with four full-length EP’s released in 2019 alone). Even if she sticks to making this decidedly less-introspective style of song, she really just needs to spend a little more time polishing and finessing it. It would be far better for her to get a few songs sounding great, rather than a lot of songs sounding just good.

Because Jalaya, as an artist, isn’t just good — she shows all the hallmarks of an artist who can be truly great. Greatness does take time, but it’s definitely time worth taking. As for “Point,” it’s a fun song, but, I think with some finessing, Jalaya Hollis can do even better.

-ERINEM