On the Bronx-bred’s latest single, “Tuff,” jessa invites a refreshing yet familiar sound as she steers through her expectations of love and actual reality. With airy vocals, soft display, and buoyant production, she tells the not-so-easy, yet relatable tale of not finding her prince charming at a young age. The glossy track follows jessa’s last single, the utterly vulnerable, “I Can’t Stop Crying.” Taking listeners back to the carefree, glory days of Hilary Duff/Lizzie McGuire, jessa actually blames the childhood icon for her anticipations of love.
“Hilary Duff really f**ked me up / teaching me I would be young in love / boys like you don’t learn as fast / as girls like me who built to last / and nobody taught me how to be TUFF.”jessa – “TUFF”
The evocative record channels past energies taking those who lend their ears to it back to the days of the OG Disney channel and first crushes. However, jessa delivers a melancholic twist as she clarifies that these fantasies don’t match her reality today. She uses “TUFF” as a realization. The coming-of-age song acknowledges what the 25-year-old thought love would be at her young age while revealing that romance today is not what it seems.
Following a tragic breakup, the crooner journeyed to Minnesota for healing. Once there, she united with of her closest childhood friends and fellow artist/co-writer, Raffaella, the duo partnered with producer, Jake Luppen to deliver this unparalleled record. “TUFF” places jessa’s velvety vocals on display allowing her to provide a relatable story of maneuvering through the sea of romance and love today.
The accompanying, Raffaella-directed visual transports viewers to the early 2000’s delivering all of the feels, teen angst, and fashions. Shot in Minnesota’s Mall of America, the video is shot on a vintage camera following jessa through the mall. Heavily influenced by The Lizzie McGuire Show, the nostalgic video is fun, lighthearted, and vibrant.
With “TUFF,” jessa reminds the world that R&B is ever-changing. Bending the lines of both alternative R&B and Pop, she experiments with her sound with each track. She leaves nothing to the imagination as she passionately wears her heart on her sleeve. Transparency is one of her greatest assets as she owns her narratives with grace and humility. jessa is just another example that authentic R&B is very much still alive and evolving day by day. Listen to jessa’s “TUFF” here.