“Pressure” is a recent hip-hop music video from Jizza Raw and, as the name suggests, tackles the topic of everyday pressures people face as they navigate life. Students struggle with paying back crushing loans, artists struggle earning a living, black men struggle with a number of issues in the US, and Jizza Raw struggles with all of these things and more. Many people do. With this song, Jizza stretches out a hand of companionship to such people; everyone who shares his struggles as well as those with issues all their own comprise his target audience. He channels detachment, desperation, anger, and isolation to fully convey the overall state of mind that various stressors have birthed without going into great detail about specific experiences. These sadly familiar emotions resonate with an engaged listener; albeit, each time in a way unique to the individual listening.
The song is delivered with distorted vocals seemingly inspired by Kid Cudi and the vibe from Kanye West’s album Yeezus. It’s deep, almost scratchy sounding melody has an unusual upbeat hopelessness to it and is composed of honest, introspective lyrics that at times sound conversational in how they defend his pain against those who do not understand it. For instance, the line “ask for love and you tax on it, no one else got a sack on it” uses a drug metaphor to divulge his feelings. In this context, to “tax” means to charge more than a fair and reasonable price and the line is intended to invoke the anxiety of having no choice but to pay an unreasonable price to be loved or go unloved. Furthermore, the metaphor skillfully reveals that his desire for drugs, specifically marijuana, is in part rooted in his need for an escape that love could just as easily provide. Choosing the word “you” creates a relatable tone so each person who hears the song can express their needs to whoever they wish - their own personal “yous” - vicariously through Jizza Raw. Beneath the lyrics one finds a distant, dark, and astral ambiance with an 808, drums and kicks woven into it, matching the vocals’ upbeat hopelessness. The visual that accompanies this is dark, both in subject matter and color. Blood red, chilling blues, and shades of black and white are the only colors found in abundance. Light is used sparingly in most scenes and the imagery cycles through several visual representations of pressure. We see a red balloon with a needle approaching to pop it. An egg being squeezed until it cracks. And, as the intensity of the pressure grows throughout the video, we come to see scenes of suicide. The battle between Jizza Raw and his inner self manifests quite literally as we see two of him, with the second strangling the weaker first self. Unfortunately, this struggle seems to end on a somber note as we see the result of pressure beyond a person’s breaking point. As the gun trembles against his temple, the balloon pops and the scene cuts to black. Jizza leaves us with a final message, written in white on the black background. “I need a reason to live.”
In this we see that Jizza Raw has the potential to play a very crucial role in the rap game - he can create captivating and energetic music without losing substance in the process. Pressure is buoyant enough to crank at your next function and nonetheless tackles a very under-explored issue, mental health, in depth. That means the track can offer strength, joy, and companionship whether his fans (or soon-to-be) are feeling up or feeling down. It can offer strength to the casual rap fan with its mainstream appeal and it can send a chill through the most well-versed hip hop head with its underground creativity. This is the kind of talent that artists like Kendrick Lamar and Drake exhibit, transcending the debates that pit mumble rap against lyricism and simply being accepted as good music. Check out the music video below to get a taste of the Reasons to Live album, dropping March 20th, and follow Jizza on twitter, instagram, or facebook to avoid missing the next visual and stay up to date on the ascent of the boy with the beads!