D’Angel’s comments puts the spotlight on female artistes
Recent comments by female dancehall DJ D’Angel comparing herself musically to Koffee and demanding respect from the entertainment industry have put the spotlight on females in the reggae/dancehall space who are making strides or on the cusp of international stardom.
“Koffee’s success has gone past Norman Manley International Airport. D’Angel needs to be reminded of that,” Jerry McDonald, television producer and promoter for New York’s Blue & Bougie, told The Gleaner. “Respect is something that is earned. You can’t just demand it,” he said.
Koffee continues to loom large. She is one of Jamaica’s biggest international superstars, with global hits Toast and Rapture enjoying rotation on multiple urban platforms in the United States (US) and Europe. She received a major endorsement when Toast was listed by former US President Barack Obama among the favourite songs he and his wife, Michelle have been listening to for summer 2019.
Reggae historian and tour manager Copeland Forbes, who has worked with ‘Reggae Queen’ Marcia Griffiths and who has managed various female acts, including Girlstown, the all-female reggae band, is happy with the strides women are making in reggae and dancehall.
“As you know, the music fraternity is a male-dominated industry. Females don’t get the opportunity to shine as much as males, so when a female steps out, it is a big accomplishment,” he remarked, referencing Koffee, Etana, Jah9, and Ce’Cile as some of the those who are doing well.
Speaking specifically about Koffee, he said, “I remember watching her at Rebel Salute two years ago. I remember when he (Coco Tea) introduced her on stage. I was laughing because I thought he was bringing her on to balance off the thing, but she has actually blossomed into one of the newest sensations not just in Jamaica but globally.”
Journalist Stan Smith, who has been covering reggae in the diaspora for over three decades, is excited about Koffee. He also singled out Lila Ike as an artiste who has a great future.
“Female singers, led by Koffee and Lila Ike, are coming with a force. Their DJ counterparts are X-rated and braggadocios, and their lyrics get tired and boring due to oversaturation or lyrical bankruptcy. Lila Ike is a self-aware reggae artiste. Her lyrics are refreshing, emphasising gratitude, hope and self-awareness. Her raw vulnerability and passion, coupled with haunting melodies, on Second Chance is awesome. Lila Ike’s Where I Am Coming From is an autobiographical narrative, highlighting her strengths. She is taking female singing to new heights with great depth,” he noted.
Spice has made waves with her mixtape and single Black Hypocrisy, a song about the prejudice she experiences as a dark skinned black woman. She is an incredible performer and is making strides and opening new doors as an actress on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. Shenseea is also at the top of her game, racking up solid performances onstage and putting out hit songs for her ShenYeng fans globally. Her major label collaboration Blessed, with hip-hop star Tyga, was a big feather in her cap. Jada Kingdom has the sex appeal, the vocal style, and a growing fan base on Instagram. Some music insiders say she may be on the cusp of international success. She, however, needs a crossover hit song to push her to the top. Singer Naomi Cowan is creating her own lane. She delivered a solid performance at the recent Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival in New York that was featured in Essence magazine. She also landed a prime-time appearance at Taste of Tennis in New York that gave her visibility in the Diaspora. The event was hosted by tennis superstars Serena and Venus Williams. She also snagged an important interview with Charlamagne ‘Tha God’ on Power 105.1FM in New York recently.
Sevana, an artiste signed to Protoje’s In.Digg.Nation Collective, is described as Jamaica’s quintessential triple-threat talent, with singer, actress, and model credits. She first garnered national attention with an appearance in the Digicel Rising Stars competition in 2008. She has since toured Europe, opening for Romain Virgo and Protoje, and has released singles Bit Too Shy, Nobody Man, and Sometime Love. She enjoyed a feature on Protoje’s Sudden Flight, which thrust her into the spotlight as an artiste to watch.
Stateside reggae singer PG Valentina is trending. Valentina, who grew up in Stony Hill, Jamaica, and now resides in Queens, New York, has been turning heads with not just sex appeal but powerful vocals, which she flaunts on her saucy single Cloud 9. The single has racked up thousands of streams and downloads on media platforms and has received rotation on New York urban stations Hot 97 and Power 105.1 FM. Valentina’s first single, Upgrade, was produced by gold-selling Emilio ‘Track Starr’ Bowens, who was responsible for HoodCelebrityy’s Walking Trophy. The singer was also featured on VH1’s Black Ink Crew series.
“There is a lot of potential out there,” Forbes said about the women dominating the reggae/dancehall space.
“What I see missing is guidance, proper management, and musical direction ... . I have great hope that the females will engage and grow and they will set a new trend,” he said.