The song hails from Aja's upcoming Halloween-themed EP Nail in the Coffin.
Rising rap star and sickening RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Aja is serious about changing the game for nonbinary identity in the hypermasculine hip-hop community. But judging by the new music video for “Mama Chola,” which EW exclusively debuts above, that doesn’t mean the 25-year-old Brooklyn native can’t have a little fun taunting the haters along the way.
“Mama Chola is a deity from my practice of [the religious denomination] Palo Mayombe,” the Drag Race season 9 and All-Stars 3 contestant says in a statement about the sledgehammering track’s inspiration. “Mama Chola is very sweet, but extremely bitter when crossed. She is the holder of the mirror, and she uses the mirror to reflect and show people who they really are.”
In the simplest terms, “this song is all about telling someone not to f— with your energy.”
As evidenced by the “Mama Chola” music video — and by Aja’s steady ascent in the underground hip-hop scene via millions of Spotify streams for their bold, attitude-heavy debut album, Box Office, which dropped in February — the queer artist has energy in abundance. Grooving through the song with fellow performers Shilow and Amira Wang (as well as a band of backup dancers), Aja warns: “You can’t sit with us, you mad, that’s causality. Hating on something doesn’t make a personality,” and “Don’t f— with my energy, that’ll make you the enemy. But you dressed like a friend to me, that’s what my third eye said to me!”
Aja, who also choreographed the video and has performed more than 150 live shows around the world since their first appearance on Drag Race in 2017, adds, “Instead of me snapping back on people, I take Mama Chola’s lead, which is just to reflect people’s bullsh— back at them. So, I’m learning to take the high road.”
It’s a path to clarity that leads directly into Aja’s next musical project, the Shilow-assisted, Halloween-themed EP Nail in the Coffin, which boasts seven tracks made in collaboration with Wang, Shilow, and Josh Hurst of Young Medicine.
“[Nail in the Coffin] blends emo, punk, and trap production,” Aja says, “to create a hard-hitting collection of anthems that represent [our] sounds.”
Nail in the Coffin will be released Sept. 27. Aja will host a “Mama Chola” release party Sept. 5 at 6:00 p.m. with a live performance at New York City’s The Phluid Project, and will later headline the Bushwig festival from Sept. 7-8. Check out the full track list below, and watch the “Mama Chola” music video above.
- “The Purge” — Aja & Shilow
- “Lost” (feat. Josh Hurst of Young Medicine) — Aja & Shilow
- “Mama Chola” (feat. Amira Wang) — Aja & Shilow
- “Body Count” — Shilow
- “Haunted House” — Aja & Shilow
- “Paranoia” — Aja
- “Eulogy” — Aja & Shilow