Jamaican powerhouse hip-hop artist, painter, model, poet, and reggae singer Racquel Jones doesn’t pull any punches with her art, and her lyrically direct new single, “Sacrilege” is proof of that. The single and its visually striking video serve as a blatant denouncement of religion, diving headfirst into the pain, suffering and anger at the heart of the subject in the hope of sparking a conversation about the use of Christianity and Catholicism as a tool of colonial oppression. Featuring a frenetic and ruthless flow over a robust bassline joined by sawtoothed synths in the hook, the incendiary tone and lyrics of the track are perfectly matched by the smokey neon visuals of the video. Incredibly powerful on its own, the video for “Sacrilege” has also unintentionally started a dialogue about the fear that surrounds religion, specifically because Jones has found it difficult to monetize the video following its release.
With “Sacrilege” serving as the pushing-off point for even more new music and an upcoming album, Jones hopes to continue the conversation moving forward, however if the rest of the album is anything like “Sacrilege”, it seems more likely that she’ll incite a revolution. With her upcoming album, IgnoRANT, coming soon, we caught up with Racquel Jones to discuss the inspiration behind the track, the dialogue that she hopes to start with it, and her plans for the future. Read more below.
Prelude Press: You just celebrated the release of your new single, “Sacrilege” and are getting ready to release some more new music early next year, but I first want to start off by talking about your roots in music and art. Aside from singing and rapping, you’re also a painter, model and poet. What first influenced you to get involved in these different artistic avenues?
Racquel Jones: I am influenced by every single thing I feel, hear and see. Growing up in Jamaica there’s a lot to stimulate the senses. The way I made sense of what was around me, was by creating, and this creative therapy manifested itself in different forms. I was a very reclusive and observant child. I felt and saw a lot of things. But I knew not to burden anyone with all this, so I created without knowing that was what I was doing. When I got older and learnt of the arts, I began to tap into it and explore it further by receiving formal training in these disciplines.
You’ve spoken before on how these different mediums of art influence one another. When you’re beginning to work on a new project or song, do you also begin planning the visual aspects of it as well? What does that process look like for you?
For me they’re all one and the same. I hear what I see, and I see what I hear. So my creative process for visual art and music is very intertwined to the point where my brain no longer separate or differentiate them.
Earlier this month, you released your powerful new single, “Sacrilege”, which touches on Catholicism and religion’s use as a tool of oppression against black people. Why was it important for you to create this sonic and visual interpretation of this message now? What sparked the writing of the track?
We all know what ‘Jesus’ looks like. As soon as we are shown a picture, we can quickly identify who that is. It is impossible for Jesus to have looked like that being born where they said he was born. Let’s start there. The lies. The deception. The destructive lies. The weapons of control and oppression through the device of the scriptures. A weapon so severe and diabolically genius that; we cannot ever address them without intense backlash from people believing it’s blasphemy, and we can never undo what it has done to us. And what it has done to us directly correlate to the destruction of racism and oppression, except to me this is more dangerous because the sovereignty and sanctify that they made it…makes it untouchable, so that even when we were free from shackles we praise a god and adhere to a religion that was an important device to enslave us. So since we can’t undo it, my thought is that we address it, and rewire our constructs to know that it is wrong…beginning with planting that seed. So that’s what this song aims to do.
You really don’t pull any punches lyrically or within the video, so what would you like for someone who might be hearing your perspective for the first time to take away from it?
Something so distributive does not deserve a mild or subtle approach. We just have to dive into it. And it’s very emotional for me because it’s apart of the darkest part of the history of my people. I am tired of making my pain, anger and frustration palatable for people. It needs to be as disturbing with the same intensity we’ve suffered.
“Sacrilege” is also accompanied by a striking music video. What goals did you have in mind for the video when you began working on it?
To be direct.
I understand that you’ve been having a difficult time getting the “Sacrilege” video monetized. Is this the first time that this has happened with any of your music or videos on the platform?
First time, but I expected the resistance based on what I’m talking about. People are scared, and when people are afraid they seek to control more. And I understand the fear, because religion is so much of our identity, optimism, faith and hope for the future. And if it turns out that we’ve been lied to about a lot of that, then what does it mean for us? It is scary, and I’m empathetic towards this. However, it needs to be addressed. And the world better get ready, because I have a whole album of addressing things that might ruffle feathers, question beliefs and denounce stereotype and mental oppression. It’s about to get really uncomfortable. But on the other side of that is true freedom.
It’s very clear that the “Sacrilege” video doesn’t violate any of YouTube’s policies or community guidelines, and I’m sure that you’re very aware of the fact that much more controversial videos have been monetized by the platform. In your opinion, why do you feel that this is happening to this specific video?
I think this is happening because of fear. Religion allows us to be controlled and gives us false sense of hope. And we feel safe in this hope and too scared to know anything different. The other videos that you speak of may not be so much of a threat to the control of the people who control us, and a threat to the hope of the people being controlled. My video does that. So that’s why I assume they deem it more dangerous.
You’ve already sparked an incredibly important conversation with the content of “Sacrilege”, which is only solidified by the struggles that you’re facing to get the video monetized. What comes next after this?
Sacrilege is just the beginning. There’s a lot more where that came from and it WILL get to the masses. It’s funny when a small percentage of people think they can control, censor and still make decisions for us. Nah, This generation are descendants of people who said they’ve had enough and stood up. And they seem to forget that. I’m a descendant of the maroons from Jamaica. There’s no controlling or filtering us, and especially when they’re far out numbered and we have several different avenues of expression. And my generation is karma, and will be the reminder of the people who stood up against control.
As far as future music goes, when can fans expect to hear more? Do you have any goals for new songs or artistic endeavors?
The album is ready. The visual art is ready. Very soon.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
No. It was my pleasure.