R&B’s latest quiet storm comes in the form of singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist Baby Rose, the stage moniker of 25-year-old Jasmine Rose Wilson. The DC-bred, Atlanta transplant’s unique, intoxicating and husky vocals favor early-aughts pop star Anastasia and come with the gut-wrenching emotion of Nina Simone, one of her biggest inspirations.
However, Baby Rose’s digital-age-sprinkled content and hip-hop leaning production brings a new-school flair to juxtapose the nostalgic energy her gifts emit, showcased on projects such as her 2017 mixtape, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, and her debut album, 2019’s To Myself.
The independent artist’s approach has resulted in tracks with Big K.R.I.T., Matt Martians, and Dreamville’s Ari Lennox and Bas, who worked with her on “Self Love” from the Grammy-nominated compilation album Revenge Of The Dreamers III. Others are also taking notice: She performed on NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concert” series in February, and is slated to perform at Afropunk Paris in July.
Her debut LP features 10 songs of rawness and relatability, as the musician croons about the ins and outs of a former relationship, with much of the album placing her inner thoughts about potentially unfinished business front and center. On the album’s snare-heavy “Ragrets,” Baby Rose muses over whether the relationship was worth the pain.
Listeners are also treated to the emotionally palpable “All to Myself,” in which she discusses not wanting to open up anymore, as she’s been hurt too many times. The sounds of an organ bring the song to stratospheric, passionate heights, and her engaging lyrics have the power to bring the listener to church.
“I feel like I have moments of clarity where I am super immature about love, and then there’s the side of me that is really just like, ‘I love love at whatever cost,’” she tells Billboard about how her perspective on relationships has changed in the year since the album’s release. She now believes that it’s important to set boundaries when it comes to love, as not everything is meant to be shared.
“We are two individuals and that’s OK, because we make the choice daily to love one another. But that doesn’t mean that I have to give you all of my power,” she explains. “My business is the boundary for me. … All I’m left with is myself and what I have for this world, and music] is my gift. This is my innate desire to be able to create, and I can’t give that power to somebody because people can be fleeting.”
Unlike her mixtape, Baby Rose and her team took six months to craft To Myself. After learning the hard way about sample clearances, they made the choice to build the album from scratch. The intention was to tell her story and perspective in an original way, which yielded favorable results.
“From Dusk ‘Til Dawn took four years for me to compile, mainly because I was super unconfident … To Myself] just flowed,” she says of the organic nature of the project coming together. “The album] had a different type of energy, and we had to give our all.”
Before the calamitous events of COVID-19 unfolded globally, Baby Rose was traveling around the U.S. and Europe on her first-ever headlining tour. She was forced to uproot the tour after her London show on March 10, which she said was “insane” and high-octane. The last two stops (Los Angeles and Oakland) were postponed, and she’s looking forward to the U.S. recovering, because she knows the rescheduled shows will be “lit.”
“The energy in London] was just such a perfect way to end it when they got the report about canceling the show],” she says enthusiastically. “I’m lucky in the fact that I was two shows away from the end of tour, so I really got the full experience for the most part.”
Those who are eager to see Baby Rose on tour when her rescheduled dates are announced can look forward to witnessing “a true visualization” of what To Myself means to her. She describes the set design (curated by Vin “Toots” Chavez) as an ethereal “forest” with a rose garden and fog, and the show itself was an intimate gathering of spirits who were eager to soak in the energy she gave off.
While on tour, Rose made sure to take in her surroundings, shouting out her prepaid phone for allowing her to “live in a bubble” while in Amsterdam. She also said that moments on the tour permitted her to bask in the fruits of her label; she divulged on the “gratifying” moment of selling out the entirety of her merch in Chicago, the very first stop on her tour.
“It was love — everyone knew the words, and it was just beautiful,” she says of witnessing fans enjoying themselves. “Living in that bliss and really just being free on tour was such a vibe for me, my crew, and] my bandmates.”
Baby Rose doesn’t take these moments of newfound attention for granted, especially since she almost quit music entirely. She notes that being too “comfortable” in her relationship, as well as the stress and uncertainty stemming from her mother’s cancer battle, contributed to taking the wind out of her sails artistically.
However, during her college years, she realized that her craft was her “relief,” and she couldn’t let anything stop her from performing. She did what she needed to do to make her music dreams a reality, and as an artist who owns her publishing, nothing and no one can stop her.
“Given all of the things in the past that have happened with Black artists, especially being exploited and not having their masters, I really did not even consider that an option for me,” she explains of her business endeavor. “We are in a dead age of transparencies, so people can see if you’re the one in the driver’s seat or if somebody else in this conglomerate of the industry is over your s–t … I want the industry] to be black and white, and I want it to be fair.”
Aside from a re-release of her debut album on Friday (March 27), Baby Rose is already working on her next project, which she says will serve as a “timestamp” of her life. “I just want to be as free and as raw and as forward as I can be,” she says. Regardless of where she’s planning to go sonically, she’s on the ride of her life, and it’s apparent she’s just getting started.
“I love this whole journey that I’m on — highs and lows, ebbs and flows — all of the learning curves and the anxiety that comes with it,” she explains. “I still am so glad that this is my life and that this is my opportunity that I have.”