Meet UNIIQU3, One Of The Women Breaking Barriers In The Jersey Club Music Scene
Culture & Entertainment

Meet UNIIQU3, One Of The Women Breaking Barriers In The Jersey Club Music Scene

If you are one of the many people who lose control over their body whenever Lil Uzi Vert's "Just Wanna Rock" comes on, here's something to note: there's much more where that comes from. Uzi's song falls in the Jersey Club music category, which is a genre that incorporates house music and hip-hop. Its roots began in the late 1990s in Newark, New Jersey, and it's finally starting to make a name for itself outside of the state thanks to artists like UNIIQU3.

UNIIQU3, born Cherise Gary, is a vocalist, producer, and DJ who grew up in Newark, New Jersey. Already involved in the arts, she naturally fell into the Jersey Club scene. Now, she is credited with being among the first women to bring the genre to the forefront thanks to her many remixes, and more recently, she dropped original tracks like "Shake The Room" and "Microdosing." She also has a radio show, Club Queen Radio, on SiriusXM.

"UNIIQU3. I mean, she definitely lives up to her name," she says. "You always got to expect the unexpected with me, especially when it comes to my music. I'm just fun. I'm free. I'm energetic, and I love to talk about confidence and feeling like that girl. You know?"

Find out more about the Jersey Club queen in an exclusive xoNecole interview below.

xoNecole: When did you know that you could make a career out of Jersey club music?

Uniiqu3: Oh my gosh. Well, Jersey club music is something that I grew up with. So it's always kind of been that second-nature sound that we hear just in the atmosphere. You know what I mean? Like living in New Jersey. That's what you heard on walking down the block, especially like after school. So yeah, just growing up. I've always heard Jersey Club, but I knew that I could make it a career when I started going to parties. I started going to parties because I was a dancer and I used to take dance class at the New York Symphony Hall downtown. It was like the performance hall, you know. I was real prima ballerina.

But being downtown, I heard all this club music. It's like, what is this? Where do they play this at? You know, because I'm listening to piano (laughs). Real, real classical. And yeah, from going to the parties, just seeing, like, how wild it was. I just saw that at the time. It was a lack of female presence on the DJ decks and I felt like the DJ really controlled the night, you know, they were like the ringleader. They control the vibe. They were on the mic, and I was just like, it's no girls. It's just all, dudes. So, you know, I was like, You know what? I'm gonna step from just being a vocalist and doing DJ drops and being a dancer to being a DJ, and that's when I kind of like saw a lane, you know.

xoN: For someone who has never experienced a Jersey Club party, what is one thing or a few things that they can expect?

U: Oh my gosh. I feel like going to a Jersey Club party because it is a very Black genre. It comes from the city of Newark. I feel like you're gonna just experience like Black culture, Black dance culture, and at its golden age, I feel like it's very youth driven, but people of all ages could enjoy it. So you're gonna experience that just like Black excellence on the dance floor behind the decks. Just the energy in the room. And I feel like you're going to just experience some really good music, like your favorite renditions of your top 40 hip hop songs, reggae songs, R&B songs because we're known for our remixes. So you're gonna hear a lot of creative remixes of your favorite songs. Yeah, and just like a very welcoming environment where you could be free. I felt like Newark is a hard place to live, even though it's turning around. I'm actually really proud of my city, but it's like made for you to get lost in it.


Photo by Margherita Andreani

xoN: Do you think with the success of Jersey Club music becoming more mainstream due to the Uzis and even Beyoncé doing more dance music. Do you think people are going back to that, like just dancing and being happy and feeling free in the clubs? 

U: Definitely, I think it's really dope how Lil Uzi tapped into the club culture because he came up with it, and Beyoncé, also, she just tapped into the dance culture as well. Yeah, I feel like after the lockdown, everybody's just really wanting to go out and have the best time and just make sure that when you go out, it's, you know, intentionally a good time. So yeah, I think people are just trying to dance, make music that's fun and creative, and also just kind of take you back to a time that was good and life like the way that Beyoncé went and sample music sampling music is really popular now. So I think the way that they went and sampled dance tracks, they just kind of wanted to give people that feeling again, like, you know, of happiness. Happiness and wanting to come together; the community she's touching.

xoN: You started off as a dancer and then became a DJ, producer, and you rap as well. What is your favorite thing about being in the genre and what are some of the challenges that you've faced?

U: I feel like my favorite things about being in just the club culture. Jersey Club culture is that it's really exciting. It's forever changing. And I feel like as an artist in general; it challenges me to just want to, you know, keep reinventing, like the way that I make club music because club music was really raw at first. It was really sample bass. You know, people know it for its remixes, but now we're stepping into original club songs, and that's something I've been doing for a minute just like really learning to express myself and talk about deeper topics, and you know, the turn up let's go, booty bounce shake it to the left, to the right. You know, like some projects I really like to talk about, like love or like just being confident in yourself. Yeah, I feel like that's where club is gonna go. You know what I mean? As more artists are drawn to it these days.

So yeah, that was definitely something I love, like being able to learn to express myself on club, that was kind of a challenge as well. 'Cause I feel like at the time, people didn't understand it. But you know, I'm happy that some of my older songs that I was experimenting on trying to just do like real club songs instead of like bangers are being sampled. Like Doechii, she sampled my song, "Bubblegum," and that was on my first EP, as well as Chlöe sampling "Have Mercy," which was on my first collaboration project with my homegirl TT, the artist from Baltimore, and so it's just nice to kind of see like my older things get repurposed for new. That means like I'm a little ahead of time like I was onto something.

So I love that, and some of the challenges is definitely just being a Black woman just trying to break into the dance world. I felt like before it was really, you know, male-dominated, very white man, but now I'm starting to see like the diversity, and I'm, I'm helping do that, you know, because I like to align with people like me and let them know that dance music is Black music. We got a lot of culture rooted in that. So, yeah, I find that to be a challenge, but I feel like that's something I've been overcoming. And yeah, that's me. That's me in Jersey Club right now.

xoN: You were mentioning, like Chlöe and Doechii sampling your songs. It's kind of full circle, right? 

U: Yeah, definitely full circle because I feel like those are girls that I would remix their songs as well, so I could play on the dance floor. If it's like that up to the tempo. I like to play. I like to get, we up there. We make you sweat (laughs). So that's, those are the two girls. I would definitely like remix their songs. And I've always supported, you know, throughout their careers as they're rising to stardom. So I think it's just like all in tune and I'm happy that it could kind of be since club music is like new to a lot of people. I'm happy that that could be like a cool entryway to where people could kind of dive into UNIIQU3's catalog and see what I'm about as well. Yeah, there's more room for collaboration. Like I think it's dope. Black girl magic.

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Feature image by Margherita Andreani

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