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First Watch: PJ, 'Gangster'

PJ just might be your favorite rapper's favorite songwriter. A quiet fixture of the R&B and hip-hop ecosystem, the Los Angeles singer has penned material for Lupe Fiasco, Wiz Khalifa, Meek Mill, Chris Brown, Ty Dolla $ign and countless others.

Produced by D'Mile, "Gangster" is the lead single for PJ's upcoming EP, Rare. It speaks up for everyone who's ever had a comeback at the tip of their tongue, but let it slide: "I really want to be the type that takes s*** from no one / I'd rather be gangster, seems like the gangster s*** is so much more fun."

The video, directed by , is a direct tribute to Alanis Morissette's 1996 single "Ironic." Throughout her music, PJ typically plays the role of her own conscience, but here she becomes a physical manifestation of one of the many insecurities that crawl across our brains when we need them least. The visual concept encapsulates and showcases her dual music personalities: She's able to step outside of herself to work for artists who have made names for themselves through hard, superficial rap and R&B. But flipping through the work PJ has created for herself, it feels like she knows where she stands: on a foundation that emanates hope and reassurance.

While the visuals are an obvious nod to Morissette, "Gangster" sounds like a contemporary version of the encouraging, accessible brand of music we would have heard from TLC one or two decades ago. PJ delivers her contemplative message with a smile and an earworm of a beat, managing to make a question that broils in the pit of one's stomach feel like a non-issue — or, at the very least, like an obstacle that can be overcome.

Raredrops June 10 on Atlantic Records and WEA International.

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