Emerging Detroit rapper and pop/R&B artist Tiny Jag performs tonight at Studio Park with Michigan alt-pop star Jax Anderson (formerly Flint Eastwood) in a Michigan House event. The Local Spins interview.
SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO, SPOTIFY PLAYLIST OF TINY JAG’S MUSIC
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Jillian Graham, aka Tiny Jag, is sitting on the hood of her car at her home in Detroit soaking up the sun.
She’s gone through her “unspoken” morning routine of downing a bottle of spring water and a breakfast of fresh fruit. She’s smoked a little weed and is lively and energetic during our phone call.
The emerging Detroit rapper and pop/R&B artist has carved out a spot in the music industry with her hard-hitting hip hop anthems over the past three years. She’s released a series of singles and EPs, garnering several hundred thousand streams and a growing audience of fans. She released her most recent track, “Peep That,” in late June. (Scroll down to watch the video.)
Tiny Jag performs at 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday) with alt-pop star Jax Anderson, formerly Flint Eastwood, outdoors at Studio Park in downtown Grand Rapids as part of Listening Room’s Listening Lawn series. DJ AB opens the show hosted by Michigan House, preceded by a 6 p.m. panel discussion. Tickets are $15 and available online here.
In a Local Spins Q&A with writer Enrique Olmos the day before the show, Graham shared details about her creative process, repping Detroit, and returning to the stage.
Local Spins: How do you like Detroit?
Tiny Jag: There is no place like Detroit. It has so many different vibes. But they all kind of have the same heartbeat if that makes sense. You can get really grungy. You can get real soulful energy going out here. You can go towards the water and get real beach energy. The nightlife is sick. Or you can go real thrill-seeking and go find some f—ing drag racing and some guys on four-wheelers and shit. I love that. We’ve always been such a cornucopia of energies.
Local Spins: What are some of your favorite Detroit hangs?
Tiny Jag: Marble Bar, which is on the border with Hamtramck. So it kind of gives you both of those energies, like real misfit energy. They have this giant iced-out skull hanging from the ceiling that was like a disco ball skull but it was huge. El Club. I really appreciate them and I love Southwest Detroit. There’s so much authenticity in that space.
Local Spins: What do you like to do on a night off?
Tiny Jag: I used to go out more when I was in college. Once I started doing music at a serious level and I became what people go out to do, it didn’t register the same anymore. Because of that, I think I hoard my energy. I get so much more enjoyment being at the house and having people over where we can smoke and drink and work on projects and do shit like that. I love to cook for people and shit, so that is a good weekend type of thing where we’ll meet up at somebody’s house. Everybody brings liquor or weed and we’ll f—ing drink and talk about our newest ideas and get drunk and maybe cry and stuff.
VIDEO: Tiny Jag, “Peep That” (Latest Single)
Local Spins: What music are you spinning right now?
Tiny Jag: I love Playboi Carti. The way that I can best describe him to people is he uses his voice as another sound on the beat. So the words are in there but they’re not the focus. The focus is this melody that he’s bringing. It’s very tribal in a way, which I think is why it moves me so much. Billie Eilish. I love her. She is just phenomenal. I love how many f—s she does not give. And her birthday is the day after mine.
Local Spins: What are your performances like?
Tiny Jag: There’s a lot of different sides to it, which is on-brand with who I am as a person. My DJ is a ghetto tech DJ. It’s kind of sandwiched in this ghetto tech universe. It’ll be a lot of f—ing fun. I think that this is my first show back. And my last show before lockdown was with Michigan House as well. So it’s crazy to come full circle and be part of the resurgence of music with the same crowd that gave me such a graceful little bow before we went into lockdown. I have never performed on the same stage as Jax before, so I’m excited about that. Jax is like a pillar in my life.
Local Spins: What’s your creative process?
Tiny Jag: I work the most fluidly right in the studio. Especially if it’s during the day and if the sun’s up. And especially if I’m with Caleb, who produced my most recent project at Assemble Sound. If he starts with a lead melody, I will just get to hearing shit. I will just see all types of melodies. But sometimes I might be out or at a friend’s house or something, and a melody will hit me. I’ll do a quick voice recording. My most successful song “Twin Flame” happened like that. I’m just belting it out flying down the freeway into my voice recorder.
Local Spins: Why are artists an important facet of the community?
Tiny Jag: There are a couple of things. Authenticity is my belief. That’s often how we get closer to our highest selves, and how we get closer to God. I don’t feel, obviously, that everybody should be an artist, but if you are an artist, and you feel that burn, I definitely feel like it is a disservice to not only you but to any of the things that encounter you for you to be not in the bag that was given to you. Additionally, and this is probably controversial, but it is what it is, I would say the rapper, and especially the artist, has more influence than the church does these days. So that’s a big responsibility. Like with Jax, that’s the type of shit we need. Her influence is love. It’s acceptance. It’s a spectrum. It’s raw, it’s not all smoke and mirrors. It’s very authentic, and it’s progressive, and it’s pushing us in the direction that we need to go.
Local Spins: What does spirituality mean to you right now?
Tiny Jag: Right now, my big thing is phases. I will be focused on a specific part of spirituality. So right now I’m more focused on origin. So I’m doing a lot of studying. Just trying to study the origin before the transatlantic slave trade, and where that part of my lineage is from, and what they were believing. I have to go on a hunt for the actual origin and spirituality of my black heritage.
Local Spins: What do you like to cook?
Tiny Jag: I make a lot of salmon. I make gluten-free noodles. If it’s a special occasion, I love anything that I can kind of layer and bake. I really love making special tacos. I like to cook Indian cuisine. I make a lot of saag, all that stuff. I like to eat fried rice all day long. I love to stay in the kitchen.
TINY JAG: The Local Spins Playlist
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