BE HUMBLE: Koffee is not letting the hype affect her growing career as an artist
NEW TALENT excites me. The ability to see an artist develop and flourish, then fulfil their potential is a beautiful thing.
As I sit at the legendary Big Yard studios getting prepared for a recording of live sessions with some of Jamaica’s finest talent, a young lady strolls casually across the forecourt.
You can tell straightaway from first glance that she oozes confidence and has plenty of belief in her talent.
That artist is 17-year-old sensation Koffee. She has experienced an incredible rise to prominence in a very short space of time, and her name is ringing off in all the right circles.
It’s been a while since I have seen such an organic climb by a new artist. However, Koffee seems to be taking it all in her stride, refusing to let herself get swept away by the hype.
“It’s been excellent and humbling at the same time – just the different experiences have been amazing for me because music isn’t what I had my mind on, so it has taken me by surprise”, she tells me.
We move on to talk about the very apparent ‘New Youth Movement’ a movement that is taking place in Jamaica, and which is definitely feeding into the theory that “age ain’t nothing but a number”.
“I feel strongly about it – but in a positive way,” Koffee says. “It feels good knowing I am newly entering an industry and have been embraced by many people that I look up to and also have many peers who have shown me nothing but love and warmth.”
RISING STAR: Seani B with Koffee
The warmth is real as well. Veteran legend Cocoa Tea announced Koffee’s arrival and shared his stage with her at last month’s Rebel Salute – no small thing for an emerging artist.
“It felt phenomenal! He was the best person to bring me on – It’s good to have Tea and Koffee, right? He is a hugely positive role model and inspiration to my career as an artist,” the young star explains to me.
“Even after the show he gave me the main spotlight in interviews and it was amazing. I don’t even really have words to describe all the things that are going on for me and how it’s making me feel.”
The sheer speed in which these things are developing is also something to behold. Her first track, ‘Burning’, was completed just six months ago.
“The writing process for ‘Burning’ was good for me – each verse took around an hour and the chorus took a couple of hours.” All in a day’s work, or so it seems. When I first heard ‘Burning’ I thought Koffee was a white European reggae artist.
Her tone is definitely unique for a Jamaican female, and because of that it lends itself to so many different styles. This was further confirmed which I heard her follow up – ‘Raggamuffin’ – and from that it was easy to ascertain that Koffee had a wide range of musical influences.
“I like to search for sounds rather tracks or artists”, she says confidently. “I have been listening to a lot of international music. One of the artists I’m into at the moment is a west coast rapper called Indica – he’s very melodic.”
“I also know every Protoje song out there!” The impact of Protoje’s “New Wave” movement has already been highlighted on these very pages last year, and his ability to give youths a platform and inspire them to push their artistic boundaries is hugely commendable.
I wanted to know what was it about the Protoje movement that made it special from a young artists’ perspective. It’s his positivity – you don’t hear him make songs with negative feelings, or bad words, so that means he gets played (on radio and internationally). He is cool with it, without having to be negative,” says Koffee.
It’s clear that her sounding board is large, ranging from folk to trap, hip hop and reggae. It’s very much a 2018 mash up of so many things. So where does the reggae fit in?
“I feel the reggae fits in by making music that my local people can relate to – as you said my influences are wider than just reggae, but this is the core root and it is important to me that I have music that people from where I am from can relate to,” she says.
This is such an admirable stance, as it seems to be ‘on-trend’ for many young artists to stray into other musical areas that can seemingly push reggae to one side in favour of other “international sounds”.
So the Coffee train is up and running, full steam ahead, and it doesn’t seem to be letting up. “The plan for 2018 is to release a mixtape alongside Major Later – between now and that mixtape there will be a few singles released plus some gigs and shows, and later in the year some bigger international shows,” Koffee enthuses.
You can hear the excitement and anticipation in her voice. It’s matched by the feelings that the fans have in following her journey to come.
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