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Updated: May 11, 2023

I wrote about Jermaine's breakout single last year. I closed the article by stating that we're rooting for him. Now, in light of the release of his debut EP DON'T TRIP, we premiere his joint PRAY FOR ME, featuring Jessy Yasmeen.

In retrospect, Jermaine Campbell (33) always felt that the mighty pen would become his preferred weapon of choice. But even though he’d been attracted to the art of inventive storytelling for more than a hot minute, it still took some time for the Amsterdam-born artist to emerge as a producer, MC and vocalist.

PRAY FOR YOU is the heartfelt closing track of the EP. It's a joint in which the lyrics read as somebody who dissociates from their own life they deem unsuccessful or down bad. Yet, the hook speaks to affirmations. Affirmations through prayer, praying for improving circumstances, both external and internal. Jermaine bears these internal struggles over a souled-out beat with laid-back back drums. This feel is complemented by Jessy Yasmeen's dreamy yet piercing vocals, singing 'change my life for the better / I've been hiding here forever / I think I just pray, pray, pray.'

Photograph of the artist Jermaine Campbell
Jermaine Campbell by Victor Wennekes

There is a territorial element to this song that materialises the mental space Jermaine (and other individuals) inhabit. It juxtaposes it with the external reality of the world. While hiding in that place forever might seem safe, it is the same space where your inner demons creep up on you. You can stay, but not forever. An interplay between the mental and the physical world is necessary to survive in each.

'Fostering the [internal] pain/ being lost in crazy world', Jermaine does consolidate the internal and external with a clever analysis saying 'while society keeps reminding me what I should be'. Hinting at the fact that the identity of black men is a political project and subject to foreign affairs, Jermaine chooses this to be the last audible bar of the tune and of the EP, after it's followed by a fade-out (more info on fade-outs here). This suggests the continuance of this struggle ad infinitum. Both Jermaine and the lyrics fade into the distance, repeating this theme of dissociation from one's reality. It is worth noting that the affirming chorus does not return. Instead, we're presented with an outro that calls back to the lead single, ADIOS FREESTYLE // KILLA, in which Jermaine states that 'Enough weed, will kill your problems'. However, now he states that this idea is bullshit, that it doesn't work and that you got to face your problems.

This concludes EP's narrative, which arguably deals with the transformation of dealing with life's complexities, as well as its impact on the way we deal with inner demons. No wonder his mother is calling him to quit smoking in the track leading up to PRAY FOR YOU. She encouraged her son to quit tripping to start a new trip where he takes better care of himself, in other words, where he doesn't trip (falls). I guess this EP shows his momma was right all along.

Jermaine Campbell's debut EP releases May 12th. Pre-save the EP here.


James Brown
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