In Big Mood, staff writer Jelani Driskell highlights the people behind the vibe, profiling the little-known artists behind the cutting edge of music.
A little while ago, one of my friends from home messaged me about an artist I follow on Instagram whom he had recently discovered. His message read something along the lines of “How do you know about her?” Sidenote— we’re from Brooklyn where we have great pride in discovering talented artists before they become identifiably popular. We like to be ahead of the curve; so needless to say, I sensed the jealousy in his words and I was very content with myself. He was mostly envious because the artist made music that was so polished and idiosyncratic though she is still relatively unknown-- a true diamond in the rough. That artist, who subtly commanded our attention, was Jayla Darden.
I first discovered Jayla Darden by following Ayo, an industry producer who has also worked with bigger artists like Chris Brown and Bryson Tiller. Jayla’s music could be sonically received in the same vein as Brown’s and Tiller’s—chill, hip-hop influenced R&B. What drew me to Jayla Darden specifically was her light, ethereal voice, one that I would liken to Jhene Aiko at times, but still fully her own. To me she represents the perfect mix between refinement and rawness. She is known to produce and engineer her own music, which, although not unheard of in this age of DIY movements, is impressive considering the sheer sound quality she creates. She is by no means an amateur with little sense of production or mixing ability, but her projects still infer a kind of ‘trial and error’ way in which she regards her music. Her last two projects are titled “Ideas Vol. 1” and “Ideas, Vol. 2”, and all of the songs are named “Idea” followed by a number. I imagine this could confuse new listeners, but each song has its own unique appeal while cohesively fitting into the sound of the greater project.
Darden’s music is extremely personal, focusing on her perspective as a woman. To date, her subject mostly revolves around the range of emotions that arise in navigating intimate relationships. Darden often directly addresses people in her songs. Written in such a frank manner, they sound as if they are constantly oscillating between diary entries and letters meant for a recipient. While “Idea 742” perfectly conveys the feeling of being infatuated with a newfound partner to the point of borderline obsession, the single “Between Us” expresses Darden’s desire to keep her relationship with a significant other out of public conversation. A slightly different vibe, Darden’s “717” addresses a (presumably former) partner. In the song, Darden affirms her autonomy, while lamenting how carelessly he dealt with their relationship:
So I can take care of myself, no that’s not why you are here / I just needed you to love me baby.” Overall, Jayla Darden’s music great for vibing out to; it’s chill and easily relatable while remaining unique and impactful. Not to mention, at only 20 years old, Jayla Darden is sure to grow both personally and artistically.