“There’s only one me in the galaxy/ I am an endangered species,” sings Imani Coppola on “The World Should Revolve Around Me,” the first single from her new album recorded as Little Jackie, her new duo pop/hip-hop act with DJ and programmer Adam Pallin. In the current musical landscape of same-sounding pop all made by the same three superstar producers Coppola stands out brighter than ever, a healthy distance from the American music sausage factory.
Not that she’s ever been keen on being a part of it. After a brush with fame in 1997 with her “Legend of a Cowgirl” single, Coppola was subsequently dropped by Columbia Records and spent the next 10 years in indie mode, releasing her music independently, collaborating with Faith No More’s Mike Patton and various members of The Roots, travelling across America pursuing her eclectic musical birthright.
The Stoop, Little Jackie’s debut album, is a love letter to New York as seen through the eyes of Coppola as she sits on her front stoop watching the world go by. Her keen, witty and poignant observations make for captivating, intelligent pop; when combined with partner Pallin’s hip-hop beats and ’60s-sounding arrangements it is nothing short of sublime. On “Crying for the Queen” Coppola takes aim at celebrity train wrecks, in this case, taking Amy Winehouse to task: “I ain’t no straight and sober freak/ But when it comes time to get the job done/ I make sure I’m at least civil to speak/ Try to make it look like it’s not a vacation/ People paid to see your show/ They didn’t just make a kind donation.” It’s clever, catchy and hilarious.
“The song has to do with British people coming here, putting on an American accent, pretending they’re black and making a lot of money,” says Coppola of the song. “We don’t go over there, put on a British accent and sing punk music. Not only are they doing it, blowing up [in popularity], they don’t give a fuck. They’re drinking themselves to death every night, they’re snorting cocaine onstage, [there are] pictures of them in crack houses.” What makes it even funnier is the stylistic resemblance to Winehouse’s megahit “Rehab.” If anyone has the right to be pissed, it’s Coppola. The last decade has been an uphill battle for the talented singer/songwriter, trying to get noticed by an industry that increasingly cares only about the bottom line and less and less for actual artistry. Essentially, Little Jackie is the sound of Coppola reclaiming her pop domain and doing it with gusto.
Elsewhere on The Stoop the title track is a laid-back homage to chilling out in her home borough of Brooklyn. “Sitting on the stoop in Bed-Stuy/ Always sayin’ hi when the brothers walk by/ Just got the etiquette, sittin’ on the top step/ With a bag of chips/ Sit back, relax, enjoy the trip.” Sigh. It makes me miss New York.
Other album highlights include “Black Barbie,” which cleverly disses the Britney/Paris-type party girl with a penchant for flashing their shaved vaginas when exiting limousines, and “28 Butts,” a bittersweet ode to staying in by yourself, having fun and getting into the wine. The East Coast hip-hop flavours mix perfectly with Coppola’s slick rhymes, Pallin’s ’60s arrangements and hooks galore. Little Jackie has been described as “Lily Allen meets Lauryn Hill.” If that intrigues you, you may just have found your perfect summer soundtrack.