February 7, 2002

Soul's New Cat

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The first sweet croons of soulful serenade, reverberating over the groove of a funk- jazz trio of drum, bass and guitar, provide the introduction to the newest member of the Philly hip-hop community: Jaguar Wright. These gentle vocal tremors quickly become assertive, bold roars in a crescendo of bitingly honest lyrics and hip-hop soul on “The What If’s,” the first track of Jaguar Wrights’ debut album, Denials, Delusions, and Decisions. Jaguar sings courageously — without much melodrama but with plenty of tough reality — of the trials and tribulations, of her life-cheating boyfriends, of family conflict, and of growing up. Whereas some soul singers seem to drown their listeners and themselves in strife-ridden lyrics, Jaguar presents all the pain and struggle with enough redemption and strength to keep her audience afloat. The indomitable yet playful quality of her voice and personality mixed with her brutal honestly give Jaguar Wright her greatest hook. Denials is the first look inside this highly versatile and skilled vocalist/MC, who sings with enough soul to blow away any denials or delusions you might have.

Jaguar Wright has quickly discovered her own niche in the fertile ground of Philadelphia’s hip-hop and soul movement while also receiving a great deal of support from her Philly friends. Now 24, Jaguar first showed signs of her skill for rhymes and song during her childhood, and she honed her talents even through a teen pregnancy, trying times as a growing adult, and against the wishes of her parents. While working at Wawa — a regional convenience store — Jaguar performed at night to establish herself in the local music scene. Through her forays in the city music scene, Jaguar met the then undiscovered, but already talented poet and vocalist Jill Scott. After sharing the stage with Scott and Philly hip-hop forefathers the Roots, Jaguar finally settled on a record deal with the Roots’ Motive imprint (an MCA off-shoot).