She might be small, but the impact that Koffee has made on Jamaica and its reggae scene is mighty. After winning single of the year at the Jamaica Music Industry Association awards for Toast, she has amassed more than four million streams on Spotify. The hit ‘Toast’ is the epitome of Koffee’s style. It’s steeped in the positive-vibes-only doctrine of roots rather than dance-hall’s brashness, and she is driving modern reggae forward.
‘Legend’ was the first piece she wrote, as a tribute to Usain Bolt, which she posted on Instagram and it quickly went viral. He (Usain Bolt) then reposted it and that was the first recognition she received from a public icon.
She grew up in Spanish Town, on the outskirts of Kingston, and was first exposed to music in the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) church she attended as a child. As a teenager, having been inspired by reggae music all her life, she decided to try it for herself.
She then recorded ‘Burning’ after the Usain Bolt-inspired hit when producers and labels had courted her in 2017. Burning was a song about not being accepted into sixth form college. It was spotted by Columbia UK and in the last 18 months she has moved from unknown newcomer to reggae’s new hope, being produced by Walshy Fire of Major Lazer and playing at Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong Studios with fellow roots star Chronixx.
Koffee is following in the footsteps of prominent reggae stars like Chronixx and Protoje, the leaders of a new-wave of roots reggae artists, who take their cues from the likes of Peter Tosh, rather than the brash, divisive artists like Mavado or Vybz Kartel. She joined Chronixx on stage at Alexandra Palace, London, last year where he sold out the 10,000-capacity venue and her performance was a major hit.
Like most reggae artists she counts Bob Marley as an influence and she looks to emulate him and his successes. Like her roots contemporaries, Koffee is cognizant of the political and social unrest in Jamaica. Also aware of the rampant violence in Jamica, on her track Ragamuffin, she calls out the Jamaican government: “What a gwaan a Jamaica/ Parliament tun di paper/ Fi ghetto youths them nuh cater/ Dats why di country nuh safer.” And on Throne, she sings, “Jamaican people, leave the violence.”
Koffee is a young and level headed individual who is aware of social and political injustices not only in the Jamaica but the world. If she continues to mature and produce quality music her impact on reggae music should be felt for decades and one day the world could mention her name in the same breath as artists like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.