I’m looking at mean muggin’, trill gestures, and an electric current pulsating through the 10-story loft of a Chelsea apartment. Everyone is lit.
Not in the traditionally intoxicated sense; here, everyone is drunk on potential and an artist they can claim as their own. Celebration is the common denominator throughout the space and the excitement for Imjaehall’s Wish We Felt Nothing is so palpable that I feel like I’m a part of the success by merely being present. This is my first time at an album listening party and it’s everything I hoped for.
The Bronx-based man of the hour is someone who I’ve already been introduced to 15 minutes prior, but either because I was too preoccupied looking for Henny, or because I simply had my head up my ass, I haven’t realized that we’ve met.
The only reason I’m even here is because the illustrious Scarlett Elizabeth, featured with Jae on the album cover, has invited me. So when I ask her which dude the artist is, you know I already fucked up. I reintroduce myself to Jae and there’s tranquility to his demeanor that juxtaposes the pure fire that Odalys is spinning in the background. (Odalys, follow me back on IG!!). Jae is soaking it all in—this is a defining moment for him and he couldn’t be more at peace.
Fast-forward to my finding of the Henny and various embarrassing photo ops that I’ll never post… Jae pauses the music to thank everyone for coming out. He keeps it short and one thing that sticks out is him saying, “If you like it, please let me know. And if you think its wack, still let me know!” So when the album dropped on Friday, I obviously took his heed seriously.
There’s a lot going on with Wish We Felt Nothing. Lyrically Imjaehall grapples with success, relationships, and all of the common tropes that we’re used to seeing in this realm, and it is a satisfying listen front to back.
But where I really appreciate his distinctive brand is towards the second half of the album, on the back-to-back songs of “Pain” and “Find Myself”. With the recent emergence of artists like Lil Uzi Vert and Brokencyde foraying into emo-based hip-hop, Imjaehall offers a refreshing take on similar struggles with identity, doubt, and self-narcotization as a coping method. Oh, and the production on “Pain” is fucking fuego.
You’re still same bitch who threw it all away,
I tell you what I’m thinking, hope you feel the pain
These lyrics on “Pain” encapsulate the entire break-up theme of WWFN and, try as I might, I find myself unable to separate their message and somber tone from the man I met who seemed anything but.
Similarly on “Find Myself”, the combination of subject material and patois that Imjaehall employs makes for an experience that takes you back to those angry and uncertain moments in your life—the ones where you wish you could’ve shouted how you felt, but didn’t because of social decorum. Imjaehall says it for you.
This album is therapeutic in that sense.
Got all these drugs in my system,
And shorty don’t even know the difference
Bout to land in LAX in a minute
Hat low, don’t need people in my business
Got me popping all these pills on vacation
My anxiety ain’t got no patience
I can’t even tell the difference
Just watch you fuck niggas from a distance
Having grown up in Fort Greene, hip-hop and R&B is a part of the very fabric of my soul. It is the single most versatile and consistent element in my life–I rely on it as a crutch, as motivation, as whatever my life is calling for at the moment.
But it wasn’t until attending this event that I recalled something I knew long ago and had forgotten: the most central reasoning behind this music’s value in my life is the community it builds. I felt 15 again blasting Bone Thugs on Myrtle Avenue.
That notion of community extends to my experience of this album. Imjaehall touches on his most intimate experiences—positive and negative—and allows himself to be vulnerable in a way that isn’t often seen in hip-hop.
He doesn’t glamorize the numbing process, but rather portrays the angst that makes it necessary (and even exciting) to numb in the first place.
In my various social forays over the years, I’ve learned there is a very real contingency of artistically-inclined people whose art is both inspired and obstructed by an internal monologue—specifically one that is warped, and even mutilated, by societal constructs.
Some recognize it, but most do not; and even recognition doesn’t beget the ability to create a meaningful dialogue with one’s art around this issue.
Imjaehall’s work cuts to the root of this problem, and if you need proof, you need not look any further than the title of the album.