During an interview with NZ On Air at the beginning of the year, Jujulipps offered some sound advice: “Know you’re that bitch!” she confidently said, and those words define everything about her music career to date.
It was highly intentional to name her debut single “Hilary Banks”, a tribute to the preening Fresh Prince of Bel-Air character. But where the ’90s sitcom liked to portray Banks as an arrogant and self-centred girl, Jujulipps restructured her as a fiercely empowered woman for 2021 (just one year after her single dropped, the dramatic TV reboot of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air did a similar thing with the Banks character, transforming her into a self-assured influencer with ambition and goals).
It was a bold creative move by Jujulipps, made even more audacious by it being her debut release, but the Afro-Kiwi rapper is always unreservedly herself.
On her new single, “Airplane Mode”, nothing has changed. It’s a song that Banks surely would have loved: “Someone’s calling me… I don’t know why… I don’t reply,” Jujulipps spits stingingly, knowing her worth, appreciating the value of her free time.
Because in today’s exhausting, relentless hyper-digital age, it’s getting more and more difficult to just switch off and chill out for a bit; being on airplane mode, according to Jujulipps, shouldn’t just be for long-haul flights anymore.
The song is a chastisement of hustle culture, and rails against the constant pressure to be available 24/7. “It’s a hold-my-bag moment,” says the Auckland-based artist. “A hold-my-worries-while-I-go-
There are achingly cool moments sprinkled throughout. “Too fly, too high,” is a delicious double entendre, while joyous horns give it the feel of a proper anthem.
“I am a child of the diaspora, and my music is a celebration of the richness and vibrancy of my motherland,” Jujulipps also said during that NZ On Air interview, and “Airplane Mode” is, as she puts it, “the ultimate Afrobeat switch off anthem.” She has never hid her global identity, but “Airplane Mode” is the most fun and overt display of the world sounds that inspire her.
In the music video, which is premiering on Rolling Stone AU/NZ today, Jujulipps pays homage to the 1992 South African musical film Sarafina!, which centres around several students who got involved in the Soweto Uprising (it’s why she’s wearing a school uniform as the clip opens).
It might be one of the best New Zealand music videos of the year: directed by Ezra Simons (Earth Tongue, Soft Bait) alongside AD Oscar Keys (Sunbed Films), it hypnotically brings to life the empowering message of Jujulipps’ song, while paying touching tribute to a cherished part of her childhood at the same time.
“I wanted the music video to show parts of home and the girl I am now with my friends and the people that mean the most to me,” she explains. The dresses seen in the video were made by Fiona Tariro Chimwayange and were included as Jujulipps “wanted to be dressed in familiar African attire and in the clothes I wear everyday.”
“Airplane Mode” follows her previous 2023 single, “Saucy”, and both will feature on her upcoming EP, Get That Shot. There’s no official release date for the EP yet, but the promise shown by Jujulipps on her initial three singles hints at it being a seriously strong record: she’s a dynamic and fearless rapper, a layered and intertextual artist, and carries it all out in self-assured style.
Jujulipps feels on the verge of a breakout moment. She’ll be showcasing her music at BIGSOUND 2023 in September, followed by a hop down to New South Wales to appear at SXSW Sydney the following month. She’ll then return to New Zealand for Rhythm & Vines at the end of the year.
Jujulipps’ “Airplane Mode” is out Friday, August 18th (pre-save/pre-add here).