"In 2020, I really just want to do more in all realms," says the New Jersey native. "I just want to flood.”

Por Brenda Barrientos
Enero 06, 2020
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Introducing our new series, Rising Latinx: Once a month, the CHICA team will spotlight an emerging star in music, entertainment, and beyond, focusing on how they built their dream career from the ground up.

“What I want people to know about me when they listen to Of Love and Death is that I have no limits,” Yasmin Ledesma tells People CHICA. “This is the appetizer for what I want to bring in 2020.” The Dominican American singer-songwriter is only 24, but she’s already undergone something of a rebirth. For several years she recorded under the pseudonym Jazzy — most notably on Fabolous’s 2015 track “Real One” — but for Of Love and Death, she decided to use her birth name, Yasmin. “It had a lot to do with the whole confidence thing,” she explains. “I just didn’t feel like Jazzy anymore. I felt like I was growing out of it.”

Her name may have changed, but her unforgettable voice is as angelic as ever, and Of Love and Death is her strongest release to date. Released December 20, the five-song EP explores the relationship between love and mortality. Yasmin exudes a mix of vulnerability and fearlessness all over the project, but especially on “Yaya Pt. 2.” She’s understanding of a troubled lover, but always fully aware of her worth — allowing anything less than the best is unacceptable. Elsewhere on the EP, she easily shifts betweens genres like R&B (“Soul Rock”), grime (“Higher”), and dance (“Move”). “I’ve always wanted to make a dance song,” she says of the latter. “I do feel like I’ve evolved a lot in that confidence level, where I can just trust my creations.” On “Amor Mio,” she even sings in Spanish; her tone is captivating and her lyrics raw. Taken altogether, Of Love and Death is her most experimental body of work yet.

For as long as she can remember, Yasmin has had a passion for singing, which she attributes in part to her Dominican upbringing. “I realized that that’s the reason why I make love songs,” she says. “There’s just something about Spanish — it’s so much more romantic [than English]. It’s so powerful. … It’s a part of me, it’s part of my culture.” It wasn’t until she reached college that she turned her casual hobby into something real. “A friend of mine would send me beats, and from there I started to write raps on the ones he’d send over,” she says. “We’d have rap battles.” The positive feedback she received from her friends gave her the strength to pursue music more professionally, and at 19, she started locking in studio recording sessions every day. “Once I learned how to write a hook, I started going crazy,” Yasmin recalls. “I was writing so many songs at the time. I started to stray away from rapping because I enjoyed singing way more.”

As she started gaining attention for her covers via social media, she built up an audience and decided to turn music into her full-time job; she eventually made the decision to drop out of school to give her career the attention she felt it deserved. “It was a crazy feeling because at that point I wasn’t even worried about the fact that I dropped out,” she says. “I was just happy creating.” Since 2015, the Paterson, New Jersey native has regularly released a series of tracks through her SoundCloud account; around this same time she spontaneously reached out to Fabolous via Instagram. After listening to her music, he played “Real One” for her, and that’s when she hopped on the track. “That [song] was my first chance at reaching people outside of the U.S.,” she says. “Then a lot of people eventually dove into my music, too. I’m so grateful for that opportunity, because I do feel that was what helped me branch out.” In the summer of 2016, Yasmin appeared in the “Real One” video, then worked with Fabolous again on tracks like “I’m Goin Down” and “Team Litty.”

Though “Real One” launched her into a new realm of fame, Yasmin found herself unprepared for the sudden notoriety that it brought. “I was having fun creating, but everything else was happening pretty fast,” she explains. “And at the time, I didn’t have the confidence I have now. Certain features and certain concepts were starting to make me realize that I was possibly taking a route that wasn’t for me.” She had to take a step back and reflect on whether or not everything she was doing aligned with her values. “To see people just storm in [to my life] and expect certain things from me because of the features I’ve done — like they were expecting particular sounds and even certain topics from me,” she says. “That’s cool, but I don’t ever want to be an artist that is boxed in. I don’t want to just be that girl that did that certain thing.”

For nearly a year, Yasmin went on hiatus from social media, and in the process rediscovered her ability to stay true to herself. It’s easy for an artist to lose themselves in the industry early in their career, so her commitment to authenticity is inspiring. “I’m happy now,” she says. “I’m still growing, but I do feel like I’m in a much better space. I always say that I took that break because I wasn’t ready, and it’s not something I regret doing.”

She’s since returned to social media under the handle @shinelikethis, a name she took from her 2018 track titled “Shine Like This.” It’s a concept she now lives by. “I’m saying we can both shine,” she says of the name. “There is authenticity in the saying itself. We’re branding it, and eventually I want to have merch, because I do feel like it’s become a part of me.”

So what comes next? The videos for Of Love and Death. “I want to focus on that,” Yasmin says. “I feel all five of the songs deserve visuals. In 2020, I also want to get back to that consistent form of dropping music.” She already knows what single she wants to release next, and has plans to put out her full-length debut album at some point this year. “I really just want to do more in all realms. I don’t want to hold back for s***. I want to release a ton of music. I just want to flood.”

Of Love and Death is streaming now via SoundCloud and Apple Music.