Per Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the word maturity is defined as “the quality or state of being mature; especially: full development.”
Certainly, anyone could ascertain that time does factor in one’s ability to demonstrate it. These days it seems as if maturity is in short supply. Perhaps, a rather rare commodity if you will in our society.
The very same can apply in the world of popular music.
Take Julissa Elise Jasmine Ruiz, better known to her fans as Eli Jas, for instance. Jas has been on the scene for quite some time. Since 2014 she as made the rounds in the music circuit spinning such singles as “Tu me haces volar” and “Control.” But in the time since her freshman releases she has made some rather interesting changes that the public could not ignore, piquing its curiosity.
“In my career, it always hasn’t been easy,” the New York-born singer with Dominican, Chilean and Panamanian roots tells Enclave.
I’ve had a lot of people say that I couldn’t sing. I’ve had people say that I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t a full artist. I’ve had people not want to work with me just because of money issues. I’ve had people say they’ve wanted to work with me but then there was an ulterior motive behind it. I think those things have molded me into the type of person, not just an artist, that I need to be. I need to stand for something.
And this is why I feel that I am such a great example for women. Especially for younger women. I really want to show them you don’t have to sell your body. You don’t have to mold yourself into something that you’re not. You don’t have to conform yourself.
The journey of self-discovery is (to state the blaring obvious) one that isn’t an overnight process. For Jas, now 25, her path began where roots are still firm: in New York City’s Chelsea Projects. It was there while attending neighboring Catholic schools, including Notre Dame School and the now defunct St. Michael’s Academy, where she delved deep into music. Jas honed her craft in the acoustics of the project halls while under the influence of everything from Latin rhythms to American pop classics.
Attempts at placing her in a specific box have proven to be extremely futile over time. Jas has gone on record describing herself as a tomboy metal head with an affinity for Chester Bennington’s vocal range. However, the one record Jas loves and completely could not do without is the one that may typify her range as an artist.
“‘Back at One’ by Brian McKnight was one of my mother’s favorites,” she says.
I remember buying it for her at seven or eight years old for her birthday. It reminds me so much of my childhood. It made me see what kind of singer I wanted to be. I listened to it myself. And just the arrangements. He’s old-school stuff and he’s really talking about what really matters, which people don’t do anymore. When people talk about love now nowadays they don’t talk about that they really care for a person. It’s about how the person hurt them or they’re not loyal.
As impeccable and eclectic her musical taste may be, it is also equally important to note how selective she has become in her life as to whom she keeps company with both on a personal and professional level. Being a student of “the game” is one thing but to enter mastering the psychology that is the music and media businesses is an entirely different ball game. But being decisive is nothing new for Jas, who traded in being a Law & Order-loving student at John Jay College for pursuing her passion. Over the past three years she has turned down some opportunities to be paired with top-notch talent to chart her own course.
For her, like many, it very well may be all about the game and how one plays it. For Jas, it certainly is about having control. Better yet the key to self-mastery.
Her first single for 2017 is the emphatic “Soy Yo” (released January 17 on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play). Aside from the polyrhythmic and layered song structure there is a deeper meaning to it for Jas. A declaration if you will.
About its theme, Jas simply offered,
It’s about me being myself. Soy yo. I basically in a sense had to fight the person they wanted me to be. So, I obliterated that person. That person no longer exists because I found who I was supposed to be. And I am not going to be fake. It’s easy to be somebody they want you to be. And I don’t want to do that. I want to be that complicated person. I want to be a person with a whole bunch of different layers
On the outside Jas is certainly striking but what comes to the forefront is a confidence from within which amplifies it. That enhances who she is not only as a person but as an artist as well. The layers which comprise her being to the core are dense and the public has yet to begin to scratch her surface.
“Soy Yo” is the first chapter in Jas’s ongoing saga of unveiling who she truly is while letting the public in on it. It promises to be one of many to come over the course of the next few weeks as she is set to release her sophomore LP this year. With it she hopes to inspire her generation and others down the road as to what she believes an artist can and should be.
Featured image: Adam Gonzalez