Dallas rapper Jenny Robinson and her partner 8earcub's performances are unlike any other live experience in town. Jenny Robinson is notorious for enacting orgasms on stage and for rolling around on the ground. 8earcub, whose real name is Gerardo Cortez, wears a brown faux fur bear coat/cape that has a hood that resembles a bear's head with an open mouth. Occasionally 8earcub lays face down on the floor during their performances.
Together, their shows are a mix of punk and hip-hop influences and often feel like performance art. "I think you can see that when you see my show," says Robinson, who's preparing to release a new album this weekend, Gothika. "I'm up on stage to have a good time and get crazy."
Robinson grew up in northern New Jersey 20 minutes away from New York City, an area that was dominated by hip-hop. She says she remembers growing up in two different music scenes that influenced her sound: One was '90s hip-hop music and the other was music from bands such as Taking Back Sunday, Bright Eyes and Blink 182. "My current squadron is similar to the people I grew up with, because they come from that same background. They were scene kids," she says.
When she was 18, Robinson moved to Dallas along with her family, and it was then when she decided she would start making hip-hop music. "One day I randomly made a rap song and I kept doing it. My dad always says that's the only thing I did for more than two weeks. When I was 18 every week I was like, 'I want to be a pastry chef. A boxer. A forensic anthropologist.' Then finally I said I wanted to be a rapper and that shit stuck and it never stopped."
Although Robinson left her hip-hop rich environment before she started making music she said she enjoys making music in Dallas. "I don't think I would rather be doing this anywhere else because I really like the scene out here and people come out to shows," she says.
8earcub recalls that he first met Robinson at a small show on November 2, 2012, with a bunch of Juggalos. "I played A Tribe Called Quest and nobody else knew who that was [but] Jenny did," he says. "Ever since that day we musically fell in love with each other and started making music."
After performing for almost two years together Robinson and 8earcub are finally releasing Jenny Robinson and the 8earcub, which will be their first release together. The cover for the 11-track album has no words on it; it's just a plain white background with a princess emoji and a bear emoji. Gothika, Robinson's new solo album, is being released at the same time, with the pair being celebrated in a double release show presented by local zine THRWD at Oliver Francis Gallery this Friday.
The title for Gothika came from a Halle Berry horror flick from the early 2000s. "Gothika also means when you know something for sure, but other people can't really see it, and they think it doesn't exist but you're like, 'No, I know what's there," Robinson says. She believes she's grown since her last project, Pigeon, because she's been able to come into her own and find her own style of music.
As a result, Gothika has a different sound from previous work. In past projects Robinson used premade beats that came from her friends from the East Coast. With these two new albums Robinson was able to work hands-on with the production of the music and the sound because 8earcub produced the album. Robinson says, "I was able to sit down with 8earcub and say I want this sound, or change that, sample this, whatever it may be I want. It gave me more creative control, as opposed to spitting on pre-made beats."
Robinson said the sound on the collaboration album contains confrontational content, where she talks "mad shit." During the production of that album, Robinson was going trough some issues in her personal life that made her very angry and resentful to people she was close to. But such fire is not necessarily out of character for Robinson, who cites such female inspirations as Madonna, Courtney Love and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. "I'm inspired by a lot of different things and genres of music," she says. Robinson said she studied female emcees such as Bahamadia, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Apani and Lil' Kim.
"I already started having dreams about my next album, dreams about the music videos, cover art and song themes," Robinson says. After being cut off stage early for being too vulgar, and having people tell her how to be or sound, she's made it clear that she's grown into a tougher person and emcee who's definitively not scared of being herself.
Both of the new albums will be available for free, although Robinson and 8earcub will be happy to take any donations. Future plans for Robinson and 8earcub include opening for Florida rapper Rob Bank$ in October for the Dallas and San Antonio show. Her manager Eddie Moran said she's also working on a compilation album with some Texas legends in San Antonio.
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"You're always your harshest critic, and you have to learn to let that go and trust yourself," Robinson says, reflecting on her creative process. "You have to bring on an attitude of 'I made this, so it's fucking beautiful and if you don't like it, it's not your music. You don't have to listen to it.' At the end of the day no one is going to tell me how to make my music. It's my music and I can do whatever the fuck I want and I do the same with live shows."
JENNY ROBINSON's release party with Milo Smith and iill takes place at 10 p.m. on Friday, October 3, at Oliver Francis Gallery, 209 S. Peak St.