More Lionesses On The Rise
Recently there has been a rise in the number of female dancehall and reggae artists in Jamaica. On the roots and culture side you have Jah9, Kelissa, Hempress Sativa and Xana Romeo garnering international attention, and on the dancehall side there is Spice, Shensea, and Ishawna setting dances and stages shows on fire. But that rise in female artists is not limited to Jamaica, here in America there are three talented young women from the Tri-State area of NJ, NY, and CT ready to make their mark in the music industry. Half The Story Has Never Been Told…
Born in Miami but raised between Queens and Long Island, NY Nefatari got her start being a backup singer for Lindsay Lohan and Emma Bunton formerly of the Spice Girls. After starting out in an r&b group called Opposites Attract, Nefatari chose to go solo and to do the music of her Jamaican heritage sprinkled with a dash of pop, hip-hop, and r&b.
“Since my family is from Jamaica I grew up listening to dancehall and reggae music,” said Nefatari. “But I wouldn’t say that my music is hardcore dancehall. If you listen to the mixtape I put out about two years ago called ‘The Introduction’ you’ll notice that some of my songs are pop but are Caribbean inspired, and some are hardcore dancehall.”
Nefatari’s latest video “Fresh From Yard,” is an ode to Jamaican men and combats the negative stereotype attached to them.
“Jamaican men have sort of a stigma attached to them like they’re not quite the best men to be in a relationship with,” said Nefatari the self-professed ‘Queen of Queens.’ “I was listening to the Migos song [T-Shirt] and he was talking about all the things that his mother told him not to do. For us as young women we’re told to stay away from the bad boys, but for a lot of us good girls, the bad boys are our weakness. So I just wanted to put that down on a record and I feel a lot of women can relate to that.”
Across the Hudson river in New Jersey Yoncia started doing music a year ago on April 1st, but she’s definitely not fooling around as she has amassed a number of songs in just a short period of time. Yoncia started out writing poetry, but that all changed after she was asked to write a poem for a friend of hers in college as an undergrad.
“He knew that I wrote poetry because I used to enter a lot of competitions around Jersey so he asked me to write him a random poem,” said Yoncia who has a bachelors degree in Psychology and Journalism but is now in school for a masters in. “I wrote the poem and he asked me to sing it because everything rhymed and I thought it was a big joke. So I sang it and he told me ‘You know you can actually sing right?’ When you can sing you kind of know, but to hear somebody else firmly believe it and it’s not just you on a Sunday or in the bathroom then you know you actually have talent.”
Yoncia considers herself more of a reggae artist than dancehall, even though she is capable of doing both.
“I don’t consider myself a dancehall artist because the topics I’m inclined to talk about aren’t necessarily dancehall topics,” said Yoncia whose latest video ‘Mind Control,’ is a female empowerment song about being an independent woman who will not be controlled by any man. “I think versatility shows that I can do a dancehall song. A couple of songs that I do actually sound like dancehall and they are not heavy rooted reggae.”
After New York and Miami, Hartford Ct. has the third largest West Indian population. Artist such as Busy Signal and Chuck Fender were rooted there at one point in their life, so there is plenty of talent in Connecticut’s capital city. Flyame is an artist that I have known ever since the first time I ever shot photos at a concert ten years ago. She opened for Buju Banton and Capleton and I’ve been watching her career grow ever since. That concert was only her second performance, the first being when she opened for Macka Diamond a few months before then. Flyame was born in Jamaica, and like Yoncia started doing music here in America.
“After I came to Hartford I started singing for people and they actually liked it, when I opened for Macka Diamond the feedback was good and I was surprised,” said Flyame who also song with a reggae band from Hartford named Amandla. “I did another show and another show and another show and I realized that this was something that I enjoyed doing decided to pursue it from there.”
Although Flyame lives in Hartford, she does all her recording in Jamaica.
“If you want to have your music exposed on an international level I don’t think you can just limit yourself to being in Hartford or just being played in Hartford,” said Flyame who has worked with Dre Day Productions, Big Yard, Christopher Birch of Birchill records, and Kingston Elite. “Once you buss in Jamaica, you buss everywhere else. So I’m starting from the root.”
Flyame said her latest video “Bumpa,” is summer song for the fat girls and skinny girls.
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