Jara A Rebel In Her Own Right, Talks Fashion And Hip Hop In Saudi Arabia.
Jara is a Saudi based rapper and Fashion/Streetwear enthusiast. She started to dabble with fashion and music, in order to Bring something different to the Saudi market. Her experiences and different style are the tools she uses to Advocate for streetwear and rap to top that off. She was born and raised in Jeddah ,lived in Sweden for 4 years and goes back & forth between Jeddah and Sweden.
Describe Your Beginnings In Music And Fashion.
Regarding music, I started writing in Sweden, when I was going through a dark time. Expressing myself through music was my only outlet. But I started focusing on it more a few months ago. Regarding fashion, I’ve always been the odd one out, especially here in Saudi. I named myself "Hoodjabi" a few years ago. I didn’t feel myself as a Hijabi so I combined modesty with style. and I started wearing hoodies as a type of hijab. Combining modesty with streetwear. And that’s pretty much how I started.
So what is your ultimate goal with your music?
I want to prove that you can make hits without swearing and singing about profanity. I want to show that as a woman, I can still make it and be modest. Jara is a brand you know, not just a person.
What do you think about the fashion and hip hop scene in Saudi Arabia?
Fashion wise, I feel like it’s very generic. The models are very copy paste. They all look the same and it’s very hard to get work if you look different the way that I do. Streetwear isn’t so big here, and there aren’t many ‘influencers’, who have the style that I do. It’s more hippy, boho and basic.
The music Industry here is more or less a joke, it’s based more on comedy than on lyrical content and talent. The Arabic rap scene is growing but the English scene is non existent, I am trying to shine a bigger light on people like me and other creatives to try and change the way it’s going.
What are 3 things you wish were different about each of those industries?
Modeling wise I wish the focus wasn’t on being basic. And that there was more attention and focus on originality and uniqueness. Especially ethnic and size wise too. With streetwear and fashion in general, the way I dress is considered masculine, the looks and comments I get cause of the way I look is very toxic. People make many assumptions and I wish people would be less stereotypical regarding looks. I’ve been told that I seem very intimidating just cause of how I dress.
Music wise, every producer, talent manager, and almost everyone in the industry that I have met with tells me I won’t make it cause I rap in English. Arabic is the only way anyone is going to know who I am. Like my success is based on local engagement and that rapping about things I actually care about in English won’t take me anywhere. I wish music was taken more serious in the Arab world in general and internationally, I wish that music wasn’t based on genericness.
Do you plan to change that or be involved in the change of those things?, if so, how?
I’m gonna keep going at it, try to be more consistent and give the world everything I have to offer. consistency is key.
What’s your most meaningful project so Far?
My streetwear documentary, it sums up who I am and what I want to do.
Who Are 5 Artists You Would like To Collaborate With?
The dream. just a dream probably never a reality:
For now that’s what comes to mind.
How do people outside of Saudi react To You, like Sweden for example, what do they think when they see you, a Saudi-Born female rapper and street wear enthusiast?
In Sweden it was pretty encouraged, I felt more out of the box when I used to wear the hijab there. I slowly transitioned into dressing more street and wearing my hoodie as a form of modesty, and once I did I wasn’t looked at that much. In Sweden I dealt with racism cause of my color and attitude more than how I dressed. Rap wise I don’t fit the norm there either.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Well hopefully, making a big impact, not just here or the Middle East but internationally. Showing that you can defy the norms, and excel in whatever field you choose, no matter what your circumstances are.
If you could replace your self with any other artist/creative, who would it be?
No body. As cocky as that sounds. I don’t envy any of them. Honestly, female wise most of them don’t have the same mindset as me when it comes to modesty and how I want to present my self. I don't necessarily believe in everything they stand for. Billie maybe if she wasn’t white and she could rap. So if Billie and Joyner Lucas had a baby. Something like that.
Check out Jara's music at: https://soundcloud.com/theycallmejara