Jada Ali discusses the reality of women in Hip Hop and being her own boss

FLINT, Michigan — From Roxanne Shante, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, and beyond, women have pioneered Hip Hop music and pushed the industry forward in profound and unique ways. Jada Ali—better known as Jhyce—is no different.


With the release of her newest EP, Long Time No Speak, the artist, model, and CEO of her business label, Round Table Association, has cemented herself as one of Flint’s powerhouse artists. But being a woman in Hip Hop and arriving at this point in her career, she says, “is not easy at all.”


Jada Ali - changing the game as one of Flint's few Black women in Hip Hop.“There’s been a ton of bumps in the road. It’s hard. By [the industry] being male-dominated, it’s mostly about sex,” Ali says bluntly. “People will act like they believe in me and want to be a part of what I have going on. [But] if I’m not messing with them the way they want me to, they cut me off. I’ve been through all of that.”


Understanding the meaning of turning bad moments into good ones, the artist is working on a new project titled, Don’t Tell Me What I Can’t Do, featuring a host of female features. The hope is to “change the way [women] look at each other,” especially in an industry that pits them against one another. It’s one way Ali is changing the game and doing so within Flint.


But her love for music remains motivation and stems from her upbringing on Flint’s northside. As the only girl growing up, Ali was a tomboy and took to writing music when she was seven years old. Her family became instrumental, with her father listening to local legends like The Dayton Family and cousins who were rap artists themselves.


Music, she says, is a “natural thing for me. And something I was good at,” and it landed her, like Ace Gabbana, in the life of Jon Connor during the latter years of his time at Aftermath Records—an experience which she’s grateful for. It’s why, for Gabbana, Ali is who she is today.


“Jada is a dope person. She’s a strong woman who doesn’t take s*** from people,” says Gabbana. “She’s a super hustler. That’s the best way to describe her. She’s always thinking about her next move.”


During the three years with Connor and Gabbana, Ali matured, receiving a music education from Connor, and the event was “life-changing.” She learned about artistic development, the different ways of recording, the legalities of music royalties, contracts, writing credits, and more. In her personal life, longtime friends and associates left, and relationships assumed to be forever were broken. In those times, Ali realized her dream of making music wasn’t for everybody and that she needed to listen instead of talking.


“That’s the thing. You have to be mentally strong; listen more than you talk. You have to have a team or support system,” Ali says, recalling old memories. “Whatever you don’t know, ask. Do your research before you move and do anything.”


Ali’s business, Round Table Association, a name inspired by her cousin who passed away, is one manifestation of listening and heeding the lessons learned. With a slogan that says, “everybody is a boss at the round table,” the company’s mission is to foster that mentality from the top down. It serves as a reminder that women can have dreams and succeed.


“I’m trying to create balance. I’m creating that,” Ali says passionately. “I feel like my purpose is to teach women the things I didn’t learn until recently. A lot of them feel like they have to put up with certain things, and you don’t. I do everything that I’m doing to help [women].”


Flint 2 Forbes - a co-collaboration to change Flint's mentality and inspire hope.That mentality has led Ali to the release of Long Talk No Speak, a seven-track EP she recalls being “fun, very short, sweet, [and] straight to the point.” The EP marks her fully taking creative control of her career and business endeavors. With rising fame, the Flint native is now on a billboard in New York City. It became one of the “biggest accomplishments for me this year. I was bawling. I couldn’t believe it.”


Alongside that, a co-collaboration with a business partner sees Ali ready to launch a brand called Flint 2 Forbes, with intentions to change people’s mentality in the city. Now, as her career continues to reach new heights, family support remains critical—even if all aren’t on board. To be a role model and inspire people like her niece is vital.


“My niece is seven-years-old. She wants to be a rapper. She needs [to see] somebody like me,” says Ali. “It’s not just about me anymore. I want to show and motivate [her] and pass down everything that I learned.”


But all of this—the music, business, female empowerment, success—see’s Ali bask in appreciation and gratitude.


“I’m grateful for all of the life lessons. I appreciate the process because it made me who I am,” she says proudly. “If you want to have a long run in this industry, learn all that you can. Don’t get to the point where you know it all.”

You can find Jada Ali on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. You can find her business Round Table Association’s on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can listen to her latest EP, Long Time No Speak on all media platforms.
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Read more articles by Xzavier Simon.