Few rappers in the underground scene have an image and philosophy as unique as Junglepussy, the Brooklyn-born, West Indian “life artist” who recently released her debut album Satisfaction Guaranteed. When we met with her at a coffee shop in the West Village, she arrives 6-feet-tall, and rocking bleached-blond dreadlocks, similar to those she wore while walking for DKNY during this past New York Fashion Week. With a Jamaican father and Trinidadian mother, there is something overtly Caribbean about Junglepussy, who admits that her parents’ cultures were so heavily engrained in her lifestyle that she did not have an “American breakfast” until her high school prom, where she had pancakes for the first time.
She carries herself with tact, and a rare balance of confidence and modesty. She's often dressed in tasteful duds. It takes only a few minutes of her charming and oftentimes hysterical personality to understand how she achieved a massive internet following even before putting out any music.
Always one to experiment with imagery and visuals, Junglepussy was a perfect candidate for Noisey’s Scrapbook series, where we ask artists to pick pictures of their younger selves, as well as the music they were listening to at the time. We even got to nab a few videos that the rising star has had locked on private for years, which were filmed back when she was better known as Shayna McHayle.
Busta Rhymes — "Gimme Some Mo’'
This is “JP Church” aka “Lil Shay-Shay.” I was outside of church in a dress that I hated. I hated all of my church dresses. I don’t understand why I hated them so much because looking back I’m like, “Wow, I’m such a sweet little girl!” But I hated those puffy, girly dresses. And this is my Kenya doll. It’s the black Barbie doll from the 90s. And I have her hair down because I treated my dolls real disrespectfully. But she was always there for me. I used to always just go to church and sit there and play with my dolls or just draw all over the flyer. This is just me happy to be out, hanging my doll upside down.
Beres Hammond — "Ain’t It Good To Know ft. Buju Banton"
I remember this on my father’s white, leather couch that he still has. This outfit, I’m like, I know I had to be the one who tied it like that because I know my mother wouldn’t let me. I remember that shirt. I can feel the texture of that shirt still. It was one of my favorite tops. My hair was in my little bantu knots which is funny because I still do that hair style. I’m just looking like I’m hungry. Like I want something, I know that look. This is another picture that brings me back to me. I’m glad that when I see pictures like this, I’m really being myself as a child.
Beres Hammond — "Ain’t It Good To Know ft. Buju Banton"
My aunt, my dad’s sister, is from Jamaica and she has a big barbeque every year to this day. The year in this pic it was a Hawaiian theme. I remember we spent all day trying to find a freaking dress for me to wear, and for some reason we couldn’t find tropical print in the summer time. My mother and I, we finally found this one at the Gap. It was so cute. It had a crisscross back but my mother made me put a cardigan over it. Like, “What the hell?” This is when I had my glasses on. These were Flexon glasses that I could sleep in. I had so much fun. I’m just surrounded by Jamaican family. I love this because this is how I still am at the party. All these things will be happening around me and you will just catch me in the cut.
Fefe Dobson - "Kiss Me Fool"
This is me in grade 12. I was obsessed with Twizzlers. I would buy the two-pound pack and just bring a bunch in my bag in a zip-lock, so this is me eating Twizzlers in the back of math class. I was also obsessed with Betsey Johnson and the leopard print. This bag, I searched far and wide for this bag. All my friends from high school had Betsey Johnson pocketbooks, so this particular one was a classic because it was her staple leopard print bag. I had to go on eBay and all kinds of stuff looking for it. But then they re-released it and we saw it and I got a brand new one. So I was real into that in high school.
Just a typical teenage girl, very lusty, hormones raging, I see them, I feel the hormones racing through this pic and I’m just like, “Thank god I’ve changed my life for the better. Or have I?” But the jungle’s still there, I’m in the jungle, and I love looking at this pic. I used to put a rhinestone on my cheek before people started getting dermal piercings. I think I was probably sticking it over a pimple.
Iggy Pop — "Never Met A Girl Like You Before"
This one is in high school when I used to intern for Mark Ecko on 23rd Street. I was a part of this program where they taught you how to do photo shop and illustrator and all that stuff that you need to know to be a designer. Working at Ecko too, they had Complex in the building, and all these other popping things that’re under the Ecko umbrella. They would always have parties and we would sneak into them. Now that I’m older, partying’s about getting food and drinks, but when I was younger we would just go and sit so we could say we were there. This is in a bathroom there. They just had this stuff on the wall, along with some other vulgar terms. It looks like I wrote it myself with this lipstick but I didn’t. I was so dark. These were my black hair days when I was really emo.
The Veronicas - "4Ever"
Prom was popping. My prom was on the West Side on a boat. We just sailed around the Hudson River. I got this dress at Patricia Field. My mom was like, “You really want to get your prom dress from there? What is wrong with you?” I was like, “No mom, trust me. I really have this vision.” This is why I look like I’m going to the club and everybody else is going to a nice elegant dinner. Prom night was so fun. I remember it just like it was yesterday. All these girls, I still see them on Instagram. I still have this dress but it’s so baggy on me. I could wear it because the back is corset, so if I pulled it tight. But nobody wants to see a tight-ass corset. I’m glad I still have it. This prom dress is so near and dear to me. I want to perform in it one day when it fits right.
I had no date for prom, so my mother’s boyfriend at the time drove me in his drop top convertible and I was like, “I don’t need a man. I got my mom’s man. Thank you, bye.” Then there was this guy at prom who was color coordinated with my dress so I made him take a pic.
The Misfits — "Hybrid Moments"
Oh, I remember this. I was bigger. I lost weight. This is at my friend Justin’s dorm on like 8th Street and 5th Avenue. He went to Parsons. We would go hang out there. I was at FIT and we would just link up on breaks and just spend mad time there. I was like 18. I look very different and I remember this leopard onesie that was one of my first thrift finds. The leopard is now really back up in my life. We just finished recording a video doing a cover to Cameron’s “Horse and Carriage,” and I remember that night because I had that onesie on.
I have so many videos on private on YouTube! People won’t understand. They’ll be like “You’re crazy.” That was my thing before music. Just doing fucking videos on YouTube.
I made this video eating cantaloupe and this was so crazy. And then there was this cable men’s channel that did corny guy shit. They had this video of the week show where they do viral videos and mine was the #1 video of the week. They were trying to pay me nothing for a 5-year licensing agreement of all my YouTube videos, so I was like no. I was mad young. Then they ended up spoofing my whole video on the TV show. This girl on the TV show had long fake nails and she was trying to eat sushi with them. I was like, “Really bitch?” But that’s a cute little memory.
Modern Romance – "Yeah Yeah Yeahs"
This is JP probably one year after high school at my homegirl Mariama’s house, who I went to high school with. We were playing a drinking game here and I lost, so I was taking a shot and I used to wear my nails all long and pointy before it got trendy. And this is my favorite shirt which I still have, the Crystal Castles band merch shirt that my best friend Vivienne got for me for my birthday mad years ago. My birthday’s coming up soon on Halloween, so everything’s 360. I still have this leather jacket. It’s the jacket that took me through high school. And the pointy bangs with some blue highlights—I was that girl.
The Announcement – "Jay Electronica"
This is another one taken by Vivienne. In this one I have the same side shave—my hair’s just in a nice, elegant bun. And this actually, I’m not topless, it’s just that the top finishes right on the bottom of this pic. It looks like I’m wearing suspenders. I’m not sure how my areolas are not leaking over the strip. But they’re hidden and that’s great. As for this necklace, I remember this brand had made all these dripping letters and it was so popular. It was such a trend. I found that online and I was obsessed with it. This is one of my favorite leather jackets, which I still own. I barely wear it. I don’t give it enough play. But when I do put it on, I feel like the sky. It’s great. That tattoo is JP in animal form. It’s me as a lioness and I’m screaming. I have something to say.
I haven’t gotten a tattoo since I was 18, so I’m like wow these shits are old, I’m such a different person. But when I look back at them, they make sense. I’ve drawn all of them myself except for one on my shoulder. I would go on Photoshop and Illustrator and draw my own tattoos and take it to a guy and make him do it.
Daykeeper ft. Muhsinah – "The Foreign Exchange"
I love this picture. This was taken by my friend Vivienne, who did my last video and takes a bunch of my Instagram pictures now. She’s been taking my picture since we were in high school. I was eighteen, because I got my first tattoo when I was eighteen. I graduated high school when I was sixteen so it’s about two years after. This was in her bedroom. The heads on my arm are a part of a tattoo that was inspired by a painting I made a few years before. It means love, and these two are looking at each other because they’re in love. But for some reason, there’s always a third party in love. Always up in the duo. And I think about it now and I’m like, damn Shayna, why did you put that on your body? Because now you’re damned forever. But it’s so true. Three is my favorite number so I try to not be selfish and want someone to myself. But it just reminds me to keep on being free and selfless even though it’s so hard.
And the Girl Power tattoo, you know what that’s all about. I just had to put it there before this journey of women empowerment. I’m gonna make sure it’s right here on my sleeve. My hair was red and pink and the sides were shaved. The bangs are very Bettie Page but the back was wild. I was in a red phase for a while before I was blond and about that Mary J Blidge lifestyle.
Ooos and Aahhs – "Theophilus London"
This is a picture I took on my MacBook and I Photoshopped it myself, and I feel like I did a damn good job. I did my hair myself this day and I remember I was so proud of it. I’ve never done this hairstyle ever again to this day. But every time I look at this picture I feel so proud of it, like, I accomplished that style. I nailed it. What more can I ask for from my life? I have my leopard shirt. Everything is really 360. I really loved leopard print. This just makes me feel like I’m floating in the clouds and the river at the same time. This was back in like 2008 or 2009 during my black hair phase. Then the red came late 09 until 11, and now I’m blond for life like Mary J. Blige. My mother, my whole life, she was blond. It’s pretty much hereditary except for it’s not DNA.
Sun Lips – "Black Moth Super Rainbow"
This is me in long island painting by the water at my friends house. Painting is something I really love to do. Another one of my original hobbies besides music and YouTube videos. This one goes way back to just being a creative little girl. I always put palm trees in my pictures. I remember this was a very nice day; I had a great hair day. My roots were just good. Everything was good. This really relaxes me just looking at it. This picture really reminds me of who I want to be when I’m 30, 40, 50. I just want to remember to take time for myself and just be in peace and paint. And to just be a woman.
That’s why I love doing this project. It’s all throwbacks but it’s relevant to where I want to go.
Mathias Rosenzweig is an expert picture-painter with words. He's on Twitter - @lil_nervous.