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Amara La Negra's 'Understanding' of dancehall - Genre makes Latin American star happy

Published:Tuesday | January 8, 2019 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Amara La Negra
Amara La Negra
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Contrary to popular belief, dancehall makes a wide cross section of people happy. One of those is singer and cast member of VH1's Love and Hip Hop: Miami, Amara La Negra. This she says is the case, as opposed to it being seen as a genre that promotes violence and negative messages.

Within the past year, she has put out a catalogue of music that fuses sounds from her Latin American culture (she is of Dominican descent) with authentic Jamaican rhythms and lyrical flavour, from sampling Sister Nancy's What a Bam Bam, to adding a twist to Shaggy's It Wasn't Me in her most recent single, Understanding.

"Shaggy's song is a classic!" she exclaimed in a recent interview with The Gleaner.

"I have known It Wasn't Me from it was released, and once I heard the beat, I knew a song had to be done because it was so catchy and people would get the message as soon as they heard it," she added.

The single was performed for the first time on the daytime talk show The Real last month, and the video was officially released on January 2.

In the song, she sings, "if you saw somebody lurking, it was me." Of the lyrics, she says, "My love life is always a topic of discussion. Music is my way of expressing what's going on in my life. Understanding is about being fond of somebody but them not being ready for love, and sometimes, we can get a little crazy with love when we want to claim somebody we're really interested in. It is a topic I am certain both sexes can identify with."

The music video, like the song, is a fun, high-energy play on 'man and woman problems'. "I like to do music that makes me happy, and once it does that it, I will be able to transmit it to the people."

 

Dancehall needs recognition

 

From her basic knowledge of dancehall, Amara La Negra believes that music from each island is different but not that far apart: "It's not just about picking up sounds that are trending, but exposing the music. Dancehall, especially, has a huge influence on pop culture, and it needs more recognition."

She notes that international award shows, like the Grammys, should pay respect to the genre by including a specific category for dancehall in its directory, as should be done for the rest of the Caribbean genres.

Having recently visited the island for the first time, where she made a guest appearance at the launch of new Carnival band Rebellion, the Ayy singer has been exposed to more of Jamaica's culture and has interacted with local entertainers. She is yet to collaborate on a track with a dancehall artiste, hinting that it may be soon if she is able to connect with the proclaimed Queen of Dancehall, Spice. Amara La Negra has been featured on the Walking Trophy remix with Hood Celebrityy and on the Don Corleone produced track Bust a Whine with R&B singer Pleasure P.

"I think, presently, I know more of the songs than I do the artistes. That's one of the reasons I want to keep returning to the island - so as to meet and work with the diverse list of artistes. They are so talented, and I don't think they get the recognition they deserve. I want to bring their sound to the Dominican Republic and other Spanish markets," she revealed.

Despite claims by followers of her music that the Latin American entertainer is too Americanised in her sound, she said, "If you are a supporter of me and my work, you know that I represent my country and culture to the fullest, but in true description, I am a pop artiste who happens to be Spanish, who can sing or rap in my native language, as well as English, and I may even do French in order to tap into the global market. I will never have anybody put me in a box. So, when people say I've become Americanised, they can't comprehend that I am multifaceted and talented, but I still have love for them."

The entertainer revealed that at the moment, she is single (and does not have children) and is making preparations to embark on a world tour during which she is hoping to circle the Caribbean. The second season of VH1's Love and Hip Hop: Miami returned to television on the same day that the Understanding video was released, and the second episode of the season airs on Wednesday, January 9. She has also landed a deal to act as an ambassador for Skyy Vodka.