MAMACITA: J Rey Soul Is The New Leading Lady
The Black Eyed Peas have always been a musical force to be reckoned with. Since the release of their game-changing album, Elephunk, in 2003, the group came out swinging as they combined several genres of music into their own signature futuristic sound. Their effortless mash-up of elements of pop, r&b, rap and techno helped them dominate the second half of the
2000s with their signature futuristic style. Infectious smash hit singles like “My Humps,” “Boom Boom Pow,” “I Gotta Feeling” and “Imma Be” topped the charts internationally and the group solidified their place in music history.
Now, after a brief hiatus, BEP is officially back but this time, with a brand new leading lady. Fergie’s exit from the group had us wondering what their new direction would be. Her undeniable talent was showcased in the group, not only with her voice but with her style as well. She was the only female in the group which made us wonder if BEP was going to add a new female talent to the group or carry on as male only ensemble.
But like always, BEP came back and they did not disappoint. The “Where Is The Love” singers came back with something fresh and unique with their latest addition to the group. Will, Apl.de.ap and Taboo introduced us to a new rising talent: the one and only J. Rey Soul. Upon first look, the singer/songwriter looks exactly like what we would expect a member of BEP to look like. She was sexy, confident and had a style all her own.
So, who is J. Rey Soul? Born and raised in the Philippines, the singer (who’s real name is Jessica Reynoso) rose to fame started on the Philippines edition of The Voice in 2013 when Apl.de.ap selected her to join his team. From there, she headed to the States, guest starred on the group’s 2018 project Masters of the Sun Vol. 1, and even joined BEP on their 2019 world tour.
Their fuego single, “Mamacita,” (which also features Puerto Rican superstar Ozuna) showcased a new sound for the group and even reached No. 23 on the Hot Latin Songs chart.
Fast forward to this year’s MTV 2020 VMA’s, which took place in New York City during the pandemic, and The Black Eyed Peas showed us that they’ve still got that it factor that we grew to love with the show’s finale performance, which was also their debut performance on their iconic award show. Taking the stage with white ensembles that included glowing crotches (naturally), BEP performed their new single, “Vida Loca” along with a special performance of their classic hit, 2009’s “I Gotta Feeling.”
The special live performance showcased The BEP’s new leading lady’s undeniable stage presence and her insane vocal abilities and made us very thirsty for what’s next from the new singer. Read our exclusive interview with this vibrant newcomer below!
Your stage name is now J Rey Soul. Who is she? What does she bring? A whole new fresh energy and sound. J Rey Soul stands for strength and empowerment and being and loving your authentic self. Embracing what makes you different.
You joined the Black Eyed Peas in 2018 and have already gone on tour and have appeared on two albums. How does it feel and what has the creative process been like with BEP? It feels amazing! It’s a huge blessing to be working with an iconic and legendary group that has been together for 20 plus years and has had the huge success and longevity every artist is striving to have. Every moment spent with them is a great opportunity for me to learn and grow as an artist. Seeing how they stay hungry and their work ethic, even with this massive success, is just so inspiring to me.
This is your first VMA nomination as well as your first time performing on the VMA stage. How does it feel!? Feels like a dream coming true! I used to watch all these award shows, like the VMAS growing up in the Philippines, and I always imagined myself performing on that stage and would practice my speech. I’m just happy and blessed that its happening.
Your first VMAs were during a pandemic. Tell us what that was like?
Very different! Definitely not how I imagined it to be. A lot of people are having a hard time nowadays and it’s hard to celebrate but I always try to remind myself that there’s a lot of things to be grateful for. Right now, I’m just thankful that I get to perform and got nominated at the VMAS during this tough time.
What advice do you have for other girls reading this who have insecurities with their bodies? Well, it took time to gain self love and confidence. I just believe that God created me perfectly and I was made with a purpose. I was raised in the Philippines and I was the only black girl in the neighborhood. And, I had this afro so I was bullied a lot at a very young age because I was different. And when you go through those tough times so young, it forces you to grow up so fast.
It makes you have to fight and be strong and have tough skin, My Mom always reminded me I was beautiful so it came to a point where it didn’t matter what anybody said about me because I just became comfortable in my own skin.
Who are some of your earliest musical influences? Whitney! Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Beyoncé, Michael Jackson and Prince.
Where do you feel most at home? On the stage. And anywhere with love ones and Filipino food.