“Listen: when I say I got the ball rolling, I got the ball rooooolling.”
Jujulipps isn’t wrong. The Afro-Kiwi rapper may only have a handful of singles to her name, but she’s already conquered major stages like Synthony, Rhythm & Vines, and the Silver Scrolls in her nascent career, with secured support slots for international sensations like Cakes da Killa and Sudan Archives offering further proof of her growing credentials.
In recent months, Jujulipps expanded her reach beyond Aotearoa with debut appearances at industry conferences in Australia: she took her commanding stage presence and confident flows to BIGSOUND and then the inaugural SXSW Sydney. Around the same time, she earned two well-deserved nominations (Best Solo Act and Best Single) at the 2022 Student Radio Network Awards back home.
And breathe. Jujulipps has fit a hell of a lot into her breakout year, and it’s even more surprising to discover that she only found a passion for music just three years ago during university. Boredom led her to write simple songs as jokes with friends, but when COVID hit, she realised her love for creative expression through music. “The only thing I enjoyed doing was putting my voice out there and making music,” she tells Rolling Stone AU/NZ. “So, I thought, ‘Okay, let’s just do this.'”
That turning point led her to post snippets of her performances on Instagram, with her dynamic and fearless rapping soon catching the attention of producer Abraham Kunin, known for his work with artists like Avantdale Bowling Club. Jujulipps then signed to local indie label Bigpop Records, joining good company alongside the likes of CHAII and Proteins of Magic.
A few shows followed (“to only like 10 people,” she confides), but Jujulipps quickly realised that the stage was her place. “Then I got the Synthony gig, and I remember telling myself if I can do this on my own, then I can do anything. I was nervous as hell that day, but I killed it.
“Now every time I step on that stage, it’s like, ‘I’mma put on a show,’ you know what I mean? I don’t take it for granted that you’ve paid for a ticket and I get to share my music.”
Jujulipps lists female rappers like Leikeli47, Nicki Minaj, and Rico Nasty as key influences, and you can hear their assertive feminine energy in her thrilling debut single, “Hilary Banks”, and “Saucy”, encouraging listeners to be unapologetically themselves.
Her most recent single, “Airplane Mode” (which ultimately won the top track at the Student Radio Network Awards) blends Afrobeat melodies with relatable verses about the pressure to be online all the time, effortlessly switching between English and Swahili lyrics.
The chorus is so catchy that it’s become fans’ ringtones. “Someone came up to me and was like, ‘Listen, you know, that song is my ringtone.’ “Someone’s calling me. I don’t know why…” And I was like, ‘I love it. That’s the best thing ever,’” laughs Juju.
Her much-anticipated debut EP, Get That Shot, is set to drop this Friday, November 24th. The six-track collection includes previously released hits alongside an empowering title track, which is accompanied by a slick music video directed by Tom Grut.
The EP blends her signature hip hop and Afrobeats, introducing newer elements too, like Gqom, a minimalist house music style born in South Africa’s townships.
“I love taking it back home,” she says. “I feel like the essence of me is a mixture of my South Africa roots and gaining independence and identity from there, but also having lived half my life in New Zealand, being part of this diaspora that involves so much of the world.”
Jujulipps isn’t pausing for breath after the release of Get That Shot. She’s got a seriously busy summer of gigs planned, including appearances at The Others Way, Rhythm & Vines, and Nest Fest.
It’s clear that Jujulipps is just getting started. Her EP’s title aptly sums up her rapid rise so far: “I’ve only been doing this for a short time, and it hasn’t always been easy, but I’m always going to push myself, and ‘Get That Shot!’”