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JessB Wanted to Kick Off Her Debut Album in Style. That’s Where Sampa the Great and Sister Nancy Came in

JessB tells Rolling Stone AU/NZ about the making of her debut ‘Feels Like Home’, which lives up to the hype



How do you kick off your long-awaited debut album, which also happens to be one of the most anticipated Aotearoa albums in recent memory? You recruit two icons, one old and one new, in the form of Sister Nancy and Sampa the Great, of course.

JessB did just that with “Power”, the potent opening track on her debut album, Feels Like Home, out today, July 5th.

In an era where female empowerment and unapologetic self-expression in music are paramount, the Auckland-based artist couldn’t have formed a better trio for the track.

JessB’s collaboration with Sister Nancy, the trailblazing dancehall queen whose voice has been an emblem of defiance and strength for decades, was nothing short of serendipitous.

“I first met her in New Zealand when my friend Rubidoux opened for her years ago,” JessB tells Rolling Stone AU/NZ. “Our paths crossed again at a festival in London and later during her tours in Australia. Over time, we built a personal relationship.”

When the idea for “Power” started to take shape, she reached out to Sister Nancy, playing her the track and discussing its themes.

“I talked to her about Sampa, played some of her music, and just asked if she’d do a little intro. She was down, and it was incredible.”

Sampa the Great, a Zambia-born, Australia-based rapper known for her fierce lyrical prowess and innovative sound, brings an additional layer of depth to the track.

“When I was starting in Australia, you didn’t see a lot of black women rappers,” she explains. “So I see a lot of young women that express themselves far more freely than how it used to be. It was very much ‘stay within guidelines and don’t say the wrong thing.’ Whereas now, a lot of us say what’s on our minds. You see the freedom for them to express and I love seeing that.”

Sampa’s journey through the music industry has been marked by a fierce dedication to authenticity and a commitment to uplifting her community. “Power” is a reflection of these values, blending assertive, thumping basslines with lyrics that celebrate individuality and strength.

“In the context of the song, for me, it was very much about community and being unapologetically who you are, especially as a Black person on this side of the world,” JessB says.

“Inspiration behind being your unique self, or how you inspire the community around you. This connection is real power,” Sampa adds.

Credit: Supplied

The rest of JessB’s new album embodies a journey of self-discovery and cultural exploration. Spanning 12 tracks, Feels Like Home features collaborations with artists like Kranium, Gold Fang, and Roze Don, and showcases the production talents of Brandon Jonak, IAMMXO, and more.

Each track is a chapter in JessB’s story, reflecting the diverse sounds and influences that have shaped her identity. “It’s been a long time coming for me. And it’s been such a journey of much growth and patience,” JessB says.

“I feel that the person that I was when I started making an album is very different to where I’ve landed now. So I think that kind of having it all be together in this one project is quite symbolic of what I wanted it to portray, and the concept of it feeling like home.

Feels Like Home is a marker in my journey that has been and is still evolving. Navigating a career in music while also finding identity and self simultaneously. The music on this album is a direct reflection of the changing sounds of my life,” she adds.

From her breakout 2017 single “Soul Free” to acclaimed projects like Bloom and 3 Nights in Amsterdam, JessB has consistently pushed boundaries and defied expectations. Her influence extends beyond music: as a co-founder of Tamaki Makaurau QTPOC club night event FILTH, she has created spaces for queer Black nightlife to thrive.

As one of Aotearoa’s most influential artists, JessB’s impact is felt far and wide. She has shared stages with the likes of Stormzy, Kehlani, and Genesis Owusu, and performed at major festivals such as SXSW and Laneway.

With Feels Like Home now here, JessB is poised to make an even bigger mark on the global music scene, and “Power,” with its compelling message and powerhouse collaborations, leads the way in style.

JessB’s Feels Like Home is out now via Say Less and Warner Music Australia.