Princesa meets Jazii

Princesa meets Jazii - 1 on 1 conversation 🌈

We carried out a set of 1 on 1 conversations to better understand peoples' experiences of inclusion and belonging in the web3 space. For this conversation, Princesa meets Jazii - music artist working in web3 and Artist Success Manager at MintSongs.

Jazii:

I'm Jazii, I am she/her, those are my pronouns, and I have been in web3 for about 3 1/2 months now, and I am currently Artist Success Manager at Mint Songs. What I do in this space, besides being an actual artist myself, is help to uplift and amplify other artists in this space.

Princesa:

That's beautiful and thank you for all the work that you're doing. So how was your experience of entering web3? How did you feel entering the space? How was it to find a community that resonated?

Jazii:

When I first got into this space, it was not random, but it was unintentional. It was more so because I wanted to just see what else was out there. Because a lot of the stories that you hear from people that are coming from web2 into web3, they just didn't have the best of the best; they were always pushed to the side or they were made to feel that they couldn't be successful in this space, and that was kind of my story. I've been in the industry for 16 years; when I first got into this industry, I was 15 and a half-ish. But yeah, when I first got into this space it was more so for me to test the waters. And also because I was just ready to start fresh somewhere else where I could be my full self and start over. And when I first got into this space as well, the first people that I met literally was a group called web3 Pull Up. Well, actually, one of the first people I met was the artist Chantelle, she's just amazing. But that was me not fully ready to be immersed in this space. I came into his space with my partner, he was like, “everyone, this is my wife.” I was like, “hiiiiiiii.” So I got a few follows from that, and Chantelle DM’d me sending all of these people to follow and that was crazy. Then I went ghost for another two weeks or something crazy like that, but once I was fully committed, the first people that I met was web3 Pull Up, and it was Mike D and Sankofa that headed that space and it was a recurring space and I just randomly went in, it was really cool. Those were the first people that I met and it was such a warm welcome. They knew nothing about me. They didn't even know if I was a good person, but they were like what's up sis and I'm like, “hi guys!”. So yeah, it was really exciting for me to be able to just meet people who were open and who were nice and who were warm and I didn't have to prove anything to them.

And that's why it's always hard for me when I hear people saying this is terrible or they didn't have a good experience. That is so unfortunate, because my experience was literally polar opposite and I don't understand why, but I'm just really grateful that I met who I met when I met them, because I probably wouldn't have been who I am in this space as far as making all of these connections, selling all of these pieces, becoming this person for a web3 company, I probably wouldn't have gotten that far if I didn't feel that warmth and if I didn't feel that sense of encouragement and that welcoming feeling.

Princesa:

That makes a lot of sense. In your opinion, what are the most important factors that make a space in web3 feel inclusive?

Jazii:

Honestly, for me, the biggest thing that can change the trajectory of any space as far as everyone feeling welcome and as far as everyone feeling like they can be themselves through and through, is being voiced. Like, tell me that it's OK for me to be my full self. Let me know that there won't be any problems, and from there I'll watch your actions and then act accordingly. So it really is just as simple as people voicing how they feel. It doesn't have to be a whole deep dive into religion or any of that. It doesn't have to be that, but what it does, or what I feel it should be, is, I want everyone to know before we even begin, or as you get to know me, that I'm literally here for you as a person. No matter what decisions you make, no matter what. How you look or what color your skin is. That's not what we're here for. We're here for more so, spirit to spirit connection and that's just how I am already. I literally don't care what you do as long as you're not a terrible person. Let me start there. But as long as you're not an awful person, I don't care what you do. I don't care who you love. I don't care, you know what your interests are from a judging point of view. I just want you to know me, or have the ability to maybe help you in a certain way and that be reciprocal, because you really never know. And a lot of times I feel people don't give people that maybe are different from them and beliefs or whatever upbringing, a chance and that really does cut off their blessings in a sense, because you were never open from or for that in the beginning. You have to be, you know, just open and receptive.

Princesa:

This is true. I agree with you and I love the way that you put that. You've come to speak about diversity and inclusion. I feel you're speaking for everybody, whereas a lot of times I hear people -and no shade to them, it's all love and we're all speaking from where we are able to - but what I love the most about how you've expressed yourself there is that you are speaking holistically about the community as opposed to from your own personal perspective. But also still stating your opinion, you know what I mean?

Jazii:

For me too, I think part of it is, I'm a parent and so for me a lot of it is rooted in…I have no idea honestly who my kids will even be in 10 years or, I don't know who they're gonna be as adults or what they're gonna choose to do, or even the way that they choose to live their life, I don't know. But would I ever love them any less or would I ever judge them or make it feel like this house is not their home anymore? Nope. And so that's how I approach everything now, because I realised a while back, maybe 10 years ago or so, just as I came into my 20s and as I had transitioned from single person to a family woman and a wife and all that, I just realised, a lot of this stuff doesn't matter. A lot of the stuff that people care about and put all of this anger and weird energy into, it doesn't even matter, you're focused on the wrong weird stuff.

Princesa:

I agree. OK, taking a slight turn into more of a negative reflection: what do you feel is missing? I feel you kind of touched on it, but what is necessary to make the space feel more inclusive?

Jazii:

Honestly, one thing that I look for constantly in the space is more of an open and respected perspective when it comes to new people in this space. For instance, for me, when you think about web2 and the only way for me to really give context is by going from web2 to web3… and I know a lot of people are like, we don't wanna put people against each other. I'm like, fine, that's totally fine, but I just want to get a point of reference, I guess. So for me, with web2, people are constantly looking at your resume like, well, what have you done to earn this honour? Or, how long have you been doing this so I can judge what car do you drive or what bag do you carry? But… do you wanna hear my music? Do you want to know that I'm a good artist, that type of thing? So for me, really, what I want to see in this space is just an openness. I don't care how long you've been in this space, I don't care how many NFTs you’ve dropped. I don't care about any of that. What I care about is what your heart looks like… and this is literally for everything. And from there, just accepting people and meeting people where they are, where they are is important to me. And one of the people that I love in this space, Faith Love, always talks about it: well, when are we going to give other people a shot? When are we going to make it where the small people are gonna be able to get their shine, and that's very much so what I'm about, I want everybody to have a chance. I really do. And from there  what you do with that chance is totally up to you. But you need the chance first. You have to start with something right? And for me, I guess just again from my experience, I've always told people: “give me a shot and you'll see why. You will see me kill it, but I need the chance first.” So I just want people to have equal chances. I want people to be able to get their shine and actually prove themselves, 'cause that's the second half of it. Give me the chance, let me prove myself and show you why I'm here. If we were just able to do that, I feel that would be so fire.

Princesa:

That would absolutely change the game.

Jazii:

Some people would definitely shoot themselves in the foot, but I also feel you'll get those gems of people that are like, “I literally have been preparing for this my whole life, I've been preparing for this day, after day after day for a year straight.” I just feel a lot of times, people are so judged off of the accolades they already have, and it's kind of like if you akin it to a job that's like, you need a bachelors and a masters, and you need 10 years experience. And you're like, I'm literally 25 years old. How can I have 10 years experience when I just got out of high school? There's no way, right? So I just want us to make it make sense, that’s all.

Princesa:

I love what you've expressed so far. We definitely needed your perspective, you're bringing something new to the research that we already have. So thank you for that. And since you're now working in web3, how have you been finding it? What has it been like communicating and collaborating, and you can talk about compensation if you want to but you don't have to.

Jazii:

For me, it was about finding a position in music, whatever that looked like, whether that was web2 or web3. I believe that I deserved a place where I could feel I could be my whole self a lot. At times you guys have heard me in Spaces in the middle of the day when I had my other job like, “hi guys, I'm in the ghetto, I will be off of work in ABC time and then I can be my real self...” It's very much so giving Hannah Montana, OK, the way I would be at work in a classroom or talking to colleagues and then you get off of work and then you go to perform somewhere and you're up until 2 or 3:00 AM, and then you go back to that day. So for me I just wanted something that encompassed my work as an artist.  I just wanted it to be music, whatever that looked like.

But, as I did get deeper into web3, I thought, well, this would be nice, if I was able to be in this world, immerse in this world constantly, and then be compensated for it, because really you're doing all of the things that you want to do, and even more. Your reach in web3 is crazy, and so that's why I love the concept and I was like, oh OK, it's an open position for sure I'll take it. When I first got into this space, about two weeks in, Mint Songs was literally recommended to me as one of the platforms to mint on. They recommended Open Sea and Mint Songs, those were the top two. Before we wanted anything from one another, I was able to see what they were all about. I was able to see their heart for our community. I was able to see the way that they support artists, just as an artist. So that was cool and that was really nice to be able to know in my heart of hearts, that that was a team that I could see myself on, because of the way that they treat people, and the way that they talk to people. The truth is, I didn't even apply for that position. It actually was something where I really believe that it was just in the cards for me and just the way it happened is really crazy. I went through one gazillion interviews, although I didn't apply on paper. I did go through a full process and I'm happy that I did because it was good for me to be able to show what I'm capable of and to really be like, yo, I'm actually over-qualified for this position and I can definitely knock it out the water. So that was really cool. Thus far, this is really honestly my second week of work, so there's still a lot to be learned, and I'm constantly learning. I'm never one of those people that are like, “I know it all and I do it all.” That's not me, I'm very much open to learning new things all of the time. But thus far, It's actually been really good. I really have been busting my butt to make sure that people see and understand the way that I want this position to be seen in this space, and it is a position where I want people to be like, I know that she will take care of me. I know that if I ask her something or if I come to her with a concern, it's not going to be met with “what are you talking about or why are you talking to me?” You know what I'm saying? I always want people to feel they can come to me. Whatever it is, no matter how big or how small. So it's been really cool thus far. The first week was really just a lot of me learning company stuff and making sure that I'm caught up with updates. And as you know, the space moves so fast. So just making sure that I'm educated all around where I at least know who to go to for certain things. That was my first week, and now the second week was just me hitting the floor running, it's been crazy. I am tired but I am happy.

**Princesa:**Good, yes! Goal fulfilled. In your time here, have you noticed a shift within diversity and inclusion within the time period that you've been involved in web3?

Jazii:

I think slowly but surely. I don't think there's really been a shift, I think that there has been a push for people’s voices to be heard, so I think that slowly but surely as people get more comfortable just talking about things that resonate with them, we're starting to hear more and it's starting to bleed out moreso into mainstream conversations. So instead of keeping it in a group chat, now people are like, oh, I'm blessing this on my timeline. I think it's changing in that sense where people are for sure they're like, look. I know my community got me, I'm gonna talk about this because it needs to be talked about type-of-thing. So yeah, for sure in that way, yes.

But also I feel it's always been there and the cool thing too for me is that we see it every single day with a lot of the people that are at the forefront of these companies, right? So we have Iman and Sound; we have LATASHÁ and Zora. We have Arpeggi Labs and Sassy, and we have me and Mint Songs now, so you're starting to see it, and as you see people like me get these positions and you've got Faith with metamask, it's doing nothing but opening up the stage for these conversations, because of course we're gonna talk about it. We're the diversity, we're people that are being brought on for diversity, right? and so for me, I'm very much so not a quote-on-quote, “controversial person”. But you're always gonna hear what I want you to hear. I'm always gonna say what I want to say. I'm not a person that just stirs the pot just to stir it, but you absolutely will hear whenever I'm ready to talk about something or whenever I feel something’s going down and it's just not right, you'll always absolutely hear that from me. I think it's important for people to gauge their roles in the space too, because I do believe there's places for chiefs and there's places for the Indians. You gotta have both for the ecosystem to work. So for me, just knowing when to speak or when to stay silent and just listen is a big thing that I have learned, and I'm happy that I've mastered that now.

Princesa:

Have you seen any resources or initiatives specifically centred around DEI within web3 that have resonated with you?

Jazii:

You know what? I have not. But that doesn't mean that they're not there. I just have not been heavily researching that at all. I'm sure that there are. I feel like, when you dive deep and when you really want to find something, it's absolutely there. I just have not done my research when it comes to it. I’m really just focusing on my role here and just focusing on killing it so that I can then position myself to really do everything that I really came here to do, which is to just give other people opportunity. I don't want to speak for everyone, but I'll speak for myself when I say there are times when I literally want to be Superwoman and I want to do all of these things and have all of these projects and just save the world, and what I've noticed is, although my intentions are good, what happens is my reach - it lessens because I'm being spread thin rather than giving something my full power and my full focus. And so really what my focus has been right now just preparing mentally for this position that I'm in, and just even on the artist side of this, I really just want to focus on a) the music but then b) killing it in this space and in this position; because all it does is show different businesses and people, we're gonna do the job. We're gonna knock it out the park. So hire more of us. I 1000% plan on giving everyone no excuse to not continuously hire people that look like me and people from different walks of life. I think it's important for…Jamie was saying it yesterday, if the people that are on the board or are part of the platform… if no one on there looks likes me, then we have a problem-type-of-thing. And so just showing people what I'm about as a Black woman. But then also just opening the possibilities, like, it's OK when you take a chance on people, because how did she do? She killed it. So now let's grab somebody else. Let's take a chance with somebody else.

**Princesa:**You are kind of giving us the lay of the land. You've described what self involvement in diversity and inclusion looks like, and speaking up for ourselves and expressing what is relevant to us, but we need to teach other people who might not understand our experiences. But you've also said the opposite end of the spectrum, which is, their responsibility to not only listen, but to also hire and pay us.

Jazii:

Yeah, for sure. I mean because really it all starts with you. Because if you take these crappy positions and if you let people walk all over you, and if you don't discuss what your boundaries are, then you are actually just pushing that agenda forward. But on the other side, just you said, the other part is, it doesn't just end with you. It starts with you, but it doesn't end with you. It ends with a collaborative team effort where people really have to open their eyes and see the possibility is there that they're going to kill it. You have to take chances on people and not even necessarily take chances on people, because I'm fully qualified to do this job and I feel  so many of us are fully qualified to. So you really just have no excuse.

Every time I get into a rut and I'm like, oh my God, I didn't sell this or whatever, my partner literally always says this: “you have to understand you're in your comfort zone. when are you going to step outside your comfort zone?” Every space that you're in are with people that you know and love and know and love you.” And I'm like, “but I love them” and he's like, “and that's totally understandable. But at what point are you going to step outside your comfort zone and maybe go into a space where you don't know anyone or it's one person that's semi-familiar, but overall you really don't know what they're all about or what these people are about. When are you gonna do that?” and I'm like, “shut up.” But it's true though, because a lot of times… I wouldn't even say it's being stagnant, it's just being comfortable. It's just something personal contentment and warmth. I know if I click on this space, people will be like, Jazii!!! and I'll be like, guys I love you!! I know that. But does that necessarily help me to grow? No. And so that's a big thing. Just being able to tap into the 20%. 'cause we know the 80% that love and know you and have heard your story three or four times and already know from top to bottom what you're about. But then it's that 20% of people that are like, “Nope never heard of you, who are you?” Let me go to your bio and try to figure out” - that type of thing, so I feel  that's definitely part of it.

For me, that's your bubble, your comfort zone  where you feel warm and fuzzy, where people know who you are. Try - even if it's just a personal exercise that you do once a week, twice a week - where you don't recognize those spaces in the rooms, but you stay for the entire space to kind of see, OK. What are these people all about? And then maybe you resonate with one of them and ended up sending them a DM or something like that, but really just seeing how that goes. I do understand that's hard for people and it's not just as easy as 1-2-3 sometimes, so that's definitely an exercise that some practice where it's like, OK, even if it takes me thinking about it on Monday to then finally click on the Space on Friday or Saturday. But just trying to do it so that you can introduce yourself to new things and possibly just expose yourself as an artist or creative to other eyes. 'Cause that's important. And I have to remind myself, practice what you preach.

Princesa:

It is, you're so right. It's one thing to understand something intellectually, but then to actually feel it in your body and then to do it is like 3 journeys sometimes! It’s hard.

Jazii:

OK, that is so hard to do sometimes. But, sometimes it is part of the necessary work so you can get to that next level. It's weird because I always have noticed when it comes to me and me alone, a lot of the times whenever I get stagnant or whenever I get content to the point of where I'm just  like, oh, I don't have to work on myself anymore. Something always happens to then just accelerate me back in the right direction. What I'm just trying to be mindful of right now is, do not get stagnant. Because I don't need anything else happening just for me to have that reminder to continue to push forward. So I've just been constantly trying to work on self, whatever that looks like, even if it's just 10 minutes a day, 15 minutes a day of doing something that I feel would just help me get better.

Princesa:

Is there anything out of our control as it relates to DEI that you feel we just might need to accept in order to move forward?

Jazii:

I mean, I don't think we ever have to accept any of it. Because I think that the reality is you can always be bothered by something, or you can always crave change and you can always pray for better days. Because the reality is you can't really change people. All you can do is change your immediate surroundings and that's why I think it's always important again to start with self, because what you reflect is usually the start of it all.  For me, I know usually what happens is the way that I'm feeling is the way that I talk and the way that I talk then affects the way that I act and so, I just want people to be who you say you are type-of-thing. Because then what happens is, you're affecting change whether you know it or not constantly around you because people are saying, no, you're not going to say that about this person or you're not going to talk about this group of people, you know what I'm saying? It all really does start with you, and I think a lot of times people want to be this huge changemaker and that is absolutely fine. But really, the biggest change sometimes starts with just small groups of people. And I think that it's important to know although you cannot change the world, it's OK, because you could freaking shift a lot of stuff  in your immediate town, or in your city, or in this group of youth that you constantly are around who then are going to grow up as adults and then have children of their own. This is very much so generational. So this is not something that's going to happen overnight.

There's been so much good change that has happened in the last 5-10 years…I'd say three to five years to actually… a lot has happened in that very small amount of time, and that's because people are like, enough is enough. But it takes people again…hell. Actually at Starbucks. Listen: little old me working at Starbucks while I was in school. Calling weird stuff out and weird behaviour out. I bet that some of those instances probably caused people to think twice before they said something. So small things like that I do feel can absolutely help, but the reality is, a lot of this has just been ingrained culturally for hundreds and hundreds of years and that's the sad part about it. When you really think about it, I feel you can just get so overwhelmed from this as it’s been going on for so long, how do we correct this? How do we reverse this? But for me, I feel like, if you're a parent, show your kids to be a good person. Show your kids what that looks like. It starts in your home. It starts with you. I always go back to the idea that, literally, the five people that are in your close friends group? Those five people probably have five more people, and those five people have five more people, and it's just kind of an avalanche. So who you are, who you hang around can really tell you a lot about yourself and other people about yourself.

So I mean, although I think we have so long to go, I am excited that we are championing and pushing forth youth in particular that aren't scared of the scary stuff, I'm happy that I can look around and feel confident that those that are coming after us and those that are gonna be our future leaders are not scared to fight or are not scared to be like, oh no, that's not right we're not sitting down and we're not going to be quiet about that. I think that's important too, so I really just feel everyone has their thing. Everybody has something that they want and all I really want, besides me working on me constantly and being a good role model for those that are around me, is for people to take a good look at themselves and ask themselves and be honest: are there things that I can change or are those things that are there things that I can work on as a person? The small changes add up into those big things.

Princesa:

So I have one last question. You've been so amazing. My last question is: what are your web3 goals and what role does DEI play in your own personal goals?

Jazii:

I don't want to say that this is my biggest goal. But I'll say that this goes hand in hand with who I am as a person. For me, what I wanna see as a whole… 'cause this is not, I guess why it's not my biggest goal is because this is so beyond web3 for me… so it's hard for me to just think on that small scale. Because for me web3 right now is a pocket of a community. But really, I always look at things on a larger scale. It's just the way that I think, but for me, I just think that it's really important that a) we really trust and amplify the voices of people that have been historically unheard for years and years and years. Because the cute thing, and what I love about history - well real history, not just what's in the books - the cute thing about it is it really can't be changed, it is what it is. And if we did our research, we would see who was at the forefront of a lot of the movements and who was at the forefront of a lot of change. And what that meant and how hard it was for them to go through that for things to be changed. So really what I look for and what I choose to do and want to do in this space is the exact same thing, but in my way.

I feel like the cool thing about me is I am so OK with me. And I'm OK with pacing myself and I'm OK with doing things that feel right and not trying to, I guess really, just change the world in one day. So for me, I'm building brick by brick and helping those as I can and my biggest thing is doing it in excellence. So as I'm building and as I'm pulling people up 1 by 1, I want to do it the right way so that we're building a solid foundation, so all of those that come behind us… because it's going to start small, but it's going to get larger and larger as time goes by… and so I want that bridge that's being built to be sturdy. I want it to be solid so that there is no fine small little cracks that people can fall through because a lot of times I think that when you move at such a fast pace, you know, with something such as web3, a lot of people fall behind or things get, you know, dishevelled in a way where it's hard to go back and rebuild that - like, you really should have just done that in the first place type-of-thing.

So I'm really just looking forward to doing things the correct way as far as building and amplifying people that look like me. Voices, people that I feel have not been heard or haven't been treated right. For me, I guess it all boils down just to the type of person I am. I just don't think that one person in this space or in this world should be the author of someone’s future. I feel I should be able to tell you what I wanna do and the way that I executed or the things that I do to get there? That's my story and my story alone. If I choose to mess it up, fine, that's my story, but somebody else tainting that? That's where I just, you know, I get…it annoys me. So I guess for me really just making sure that I'm building a solid foundation so that others that come after me are able to then walk with grace and without feeling like the world is on their shoulders, because it's not easy. It's really not easy. and I just said, this yesterday in NFTeaTime, you know, I think a lot of times when people see certain individuals in these roles, they expect for things to happen overnight, or they expect them to be able to help every person that comes along. But the truth is, would you rather them handle all of this stuff? Like the small things that everyone is throwing their way? Or would you rather them literally build this huge Noah's ark that's been able to really push for or inspire change for hundreds and hundreds of years to come. I would much rather myself have that solid, sturdy pillar that then even when I'm no longer in that position or when I'm gone or whatever, it's still there still able to affect change in the right way. That's much more important to me, because this is not a short thing. This is very much so a long game, so I want to be here forever in some capacity and I'm not really worried about the small battles. I'm trying to win the war.

Princesa:

Period period period. Absolutely 100% micdrop.

Jazii:

Listen.

Princesa:

That's that on that Jazii. Thank you.