Meet Trap Pop 'Girl Gang,' Thirsty 4 POP
“What’s in a name?” asks Juliet in Shakespeare’s tragic romance Romeo & Juliet. “That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet."
That logic may hold when discussing Elizabethan drama, but when you’re talking trap pop, specifically the music made fashion-forward girl power duo known as Thirsty 4 POP, the name is everything. “I believe it stands for, um… ‘Power of Pussy’ if I’m not mistaken,” explains Azia [pronounced AY-zee-uh] Toussaint, who was raised in a proper West Indian household in Brooklyn with a strong moral compass and plenty of home training.
Credit for the name goes to her partner Jahzeel [pronounced Jah-ZELL] Delgado, who grew up in Virginia with a Colombian mom and a Honduran father. “I wouldn’t say I came up with the name for the group, because it wasn’t, like, intended for it to be a group,” she avers. “It was more like a creative consultancy. Before music I was styling, so it was like a blog to basically just put pictures up of whatever I wore. The blog name was Thirsty 4 Pop. And we just took on Power of the Pussy—POP.”
“She used to play basketball,” Azia adds as Jahzeel catches her breath. “She played basketball her whole time in high school, and they used to say, like, “P.O.P. Power of the Pussy” on break every time before they would hit the floor. And it kinda stuck with her.”
“We used to be so loud,” Jahzeel says with a smile. “Cause that was the only time we were allowed to say that PUSSY! You know what I’m sayin’? It was a moment. We had a really cool coach. She was dope.” By the time Azia and Jahzeel transitioned from styling to making music together, they took on the T4P tag. “I didn’t have any oppositions towards it,” Azia says with a shrug. “So I was just like, ‘Cool. Thirsty For POP. I’m down with that.’”
It’s been a while since we had a legit girl group in hip hop. Ride-or-die chicks who stay down for each other through thick and thin. Think S&P, TLC… and in 2017 the new acronym to know is T4P.
When these two get together on records like “Girl Gang”—Thirsty 4 Pop’s creative chemistry is combustible. The girls first met in college—but it’s not like they were BFFs. Far from it.
By the time they first noticed each other they’d almost made it through four years at Virginia State University living in totally different worlds. Azia was mostly involved in promoting events, modeling, and music. Her dad was a producer who worked with rap stars like Fat Joe and Method Man, as well as producing soca artists in his native Trinidad. Jahzeel, who grew up in Virginia in a Spanish-speaking house, was in a performing arts organization called PANIC (an acronym for ”People Against Negativity Inspiring Creativity”) and she had her own set of friends.
“I do remember her,” says Azia, “because she was always like, a weird girl—a performer. She was all about dance. She didn't do music at the time. And her vibe in college was very West Village: colorful hair or like a rat tail. Crazy vintage clothes. Not like none of my friends. But she was just always a girl on the scene,” she says. “Like ‘That girl is crazy!’”
Azia describes herself as “a part of many organizations,” by which she means “I used to party a lot. I was one of the girls that was like on the flyers, and handing stuff out.” She was also surrounded by music from an early age. “My dad’s a producer and he kinda never really wanted me to do music honestly,” she recalls. “When I was a kid I was in the choir and stuff like that of course. And I was hearing my dad do music, but he never was really into me doing it. He just wanted me to go school.” But of course Azia had her own ideas.
“I always wanted to do something with entertainment as a kid,” she admits. “I liked to sing but I was really shy. I was never the outgoing kid, like ‘Oh my God—Look at me!’ And my parents, you know, being West Indian they always had that mentally—that ‘Don't speak unless you are spoken to.’ Those things were more important than expressing yourself.”
Around the time Azia started college her father was at a meeting at a record label when her picture happened to pop up on his phone. “They were like, ‘She’s not an artist?’,” Azia says. His first instinct was to be protective—“He was kinda like ‘back off’ that’s my daughter,” she adds with a smile—but after the meeting whatever they said sparked his interest.
“Next time I came home he was like, ‘Let’s try something,’” she recalls. “That was my first time in a studio... and it was cool. It was kind of like our bonding time.” Things got a little awkward when she tried to sing the song he’d written for her—and it contained profanity. “It was really weird, like, ‘You want me to curse?!?’ And he was like “Yeah say it—that’s all right.’” The record, titled “Out of This World” eventually came out, but before long she was off doing music with other people in addition to modeling and promoting parties.
She finally met Jahzeel thanks to Azia’s younger brother Kelvin, who was in the same organization, P.A.N.I.C. “One day were in the residence hall and they were having a conversation about her electricity bill, and how it was costing so much money, and she didn’t know what to do,” Azia recalls. “She was away for the summer and she didn't understand why it was so much so I was just like giving her advice and Kel was like, ‘Y’all should link, cause you both do cool stuff.’”
Azia had just come back from Italy, where she was studying abroad and writing for a travel magazine. Jahzeel had she just returned from L.A. where she’d been working with a big stylist out there. The original plan was to link up and collab on a fashion blog. “That never happened because… I didn’t realize that wasn’t a job that I wanted to do,” ” Azia says with a laugh. “We tried. We had many attempts with the website. We did everything active. The only thing we didn’t do literally was the writing. We were just living in the moment.”
Next, they linked up with Cool Kids in D.C. and began styling music videos for DMV artists like Fat Trel and Slutty Boyz. “We kind of built a buzz in D.C. as stylists,” says Jahzeel. “Just basically just two girls that create together. And that’s where Thirsty For POP came from. That’s who we were together before music got involved, it was more like a fashion thing. We would help do creative stuff behind the scenes.”
But at a certain point, they decided they’d rather be the main attraction instead of helping other people get fly. “I didn’t wanna style anybody no more,” says Azia. “I just wanted to be myself.”
The way Jahzeel remembers it “it was just a matter of learning everyone’s position and just having the confidence to say, ‘OK we’re clearly doing this life.’ I mean, we’re basically telling them what to do. So why not just do it for ourselves?”
At the time Azia was in a harmony group called Gorgeous Gangsta Girls. “They used to rehearse in our apartment me and Kimani our roommate would smoke in the background and just listen to them rehearse,” she recalls, laughing hysterically.
“They used to kick it in the background while we would get our harmonies together,” says Azia, throwing some mock shade. “We used to practice this Rihanna song over and over and over again.”
“Yooo—that song!” Jahzeel says, cracking up. “All we heard was ‘Shine Bright Like a Diamond.’ Every time I hear that song I just laugh.”
Finally, Azia asked Jahzeel if she’d ever thought about making music. “Yeah I fuck with it,” she recalls saying. “But I would want to do some kind of EDM shit.” They’d put playlists together with songs by M.I.A. and Major Lazer. “If we’re gonna do music, this is what it should sound like.” Azia sent it to her dad and after that he was like, “Let’s do it.”
Their first mixtape, 2014’s The Ratchet Sessions—which yielded the turnt-up single “Neva Dat” — was aptly named. “The process was ratchet as fuck!” Jahzeel says with a laugh. “It would be times when we had to like, go to New York just for the night to record. Or go record with our friends in, like, the living room—you know, like an in-college type situation.” They posted the project on Dat Piff and kept it moving from there.
“I think we’re a little more professional with it now,” Jahzeel remarks.
“I feel like we know what we’re doing and we have experience. We know about things that makes the song that much better—a different cadence here, an ad-lib there. You obviously grow in the process when you’re writing.” Last year’s loosie, “Tranzlator 2.0”—on which Azia raps in English and Jahzeel en Español—was a turning point, and the accompanying visuals (featuring them pulling capers in geisha kimonos and Moschino teddy bear phone cases) showed off their unique fashion sense.
Speaking of fashion, T4P recently modeled in the lookbook for the UK streetwear accessories line ReshmaB Chains. The photos, shot in the streets of Hell’s Kitchen NYC, appear here for the first time.
“I thought the collection was really, really cool,” says Azia. “It reminded me of, like, growing up in Brooklyn as a kid— especially a West Indian kid. Kinda like gaudy jewelry, big pieces with names on it. Those kinds of vibes.” Jahzeel says she was partial to the four-finger rings: “They took me back to that movie where Spike Lee had the ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’ rings. And these were really, really fresh. They’re made of plastic, like the toys you get from McDonald’s. But they pop too. So if you’re dressed really plain, you can just like wear that, and that can be the piece for you. It’s tasteful and very girly.”
“We definitely clicked,” says Azia of British designer Reshma B.
“She is a f**kin’ legend,” Jahzeel adds. “She’s totally bad-ass. [Laughs] Definitely P.O.P. vibes. I don’t even understand how her stuff is so Lit!”
Bigging up a fellow female creative force in right in line with T4P’s latest video “Girl Gang”
“It’s just about girls coming together, showing love, supporting each other,” says Azia. “It’s not about hating on the next girl,” says Jahzeel. “It’s about unity.”
Photo Credit: Robert Cooper