Jorja Smith is thinking about changing her only tattoo, on the middle finger of her left hand, from a number 11 to the astrological sign for Gemini. “Kendrick [Lamar] is also a Gemini,” she says. “We clicked.”
Lamar confirms as much when he tells Billboard that “Jorja is a constant reminder that true artistry, writing and creativity will forever be alive and well. She is the future and present.” Right now, the soft-spoken Smith is sipping green tea at a quaint coffee shop in Philadelphia, where she’s set to perform the next night on the latest stop of her sold-out 17-date North American tour. Matching sun signs aside, the number 11 has been significant to the 20-year-old Walsall, England, native since she recorded her first song at that age. She even titled her debut EP, independently released in November 2016, Project 11. Soon after, Drake slid into her direct messages to enlist her to sing on two More Life tracks; one of them, “Get It Together,” peaked at No. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100, earning Smith her first entry on the chart. Since then, she has picked up features on the Insecure and Dear White People soundtracks and contributed “I Am” to 2018’s Black Panther: The Album, overseen by Lamar. The song has become her most-streamed track, with 32.2 million audio and video streams, according to Nielsen Music.
On June 8, she will release her debut full-length, Lost & Found -- independently. “People think I’m signed because of how successful I’ve been so far,” says Smith, who’s wearing leggings and a black hoodie with her name across the front and “Crew” on the back. “But I’m not successful yet,” she’s quick to add. “I’ve got far to go. There’s always more to be done.”