Spice, one of the best-known dancehall artists in the world, was chosen as the 2023’s Jamaican Artiste of the Year in the Best of Jamaica survey conducted by Jamaicans.com. Recognized as the “Queen of Dancehall,” Spice is famous for her versatility and aggressive, outspoken lyrics.
Grace Latoya Hamilton, known professionally as Spice, was born in 1982 in Spanish Town, St Catherine, Jamaica. She grew up in Portmore. During her childhood, she regularly attended church and led the choir. Her father died when she was nine years old, and she spent time with her grandparents in London. She also attended school there before returning to Jamaica and becoming a student at St Catherine High School. She was a frequent participant in the music category of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission’s festival and won several medals. While she had planned to become a chartered accountant, she decided to pursue a music career instead and enrolled at Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts as a music and drama student. Her experimentations with dancehall music prompted interest in her community and she deejayed at local stage events.
Spice first came to public attention in 2000 at the dancehall festival, Sting, and released “Complain,” her first single, under the Madhouse Records label in 2003. Her first major success was the single, “Romping Shop” with Vybz Kartel in 2009. She then signed on with VP Records, and at the 2016 MOBO Awards, she became the first female dancehall artist to receive a nomination for Best Reggae Act and the only woman to be nominated in the category at all. Spice had her first major success with the controversial single “Romping Shop” with Vybz Kartel in 2009.
Spice achieved international recognition as a regular cast member on the reality TV series, “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” on VH1. Her first project as a producer was the Gal Click riddim in 2013, which featured several other female dancehall artists. The video for “So Mi Like It” became the most viewed music video by a female Jamaican artist on YouTube with 114 million views to date. She starred in the feature film, “Destiny,” in 2014 and also released her debut EP. In 2018, she released her first mixtape, “Captured” under her independent label, Spice Official Entertainment. Her appearance as a headliner at the 2022 Pride Toronto Festival caused some controversy as other dancehall artists denounced her for engaging with the LBGTQ community. Her appearance on “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” caused a stir in Season 11 in 2023, when she commented on the parenting skills of co-star Erica Mena that caused Mena to flip over a table and attack Spice, an action which led to Mena’s firing from the show. After the show’s finale, a special episode was aired to discuss racism, colorism, prejudice, and the impacts of these issues on the show’s stars and the Black community overall.
Businesswoman and Philanthropist
Spice launched the boutique clothing chain, Spicey Couture, in Jamaica in 2009, and in 2010, opened the Spicey Salon, a beauty salon in Kingston. She opened a sports bar and lounge, “8 Ball,” in Portmore the same year. Her online beauty store, “Faces & Laces,” launched in 2019, and in 2020, she introduced a clothing line, Graci Noir. In addition to her business ventures, Spice actively sponsors philanthropic causes. In 2016, she established a back-to-school sponsorship competition on Instagram in which she asked fans to remix one of her songs in an educational way. The prize was a fully paid scholarship that covered tuition, books, uniforms, and school supplies. In 2018, she founded the Grace Hamilton Women Empowerment Foundation to provide enrichment for women through education, business, and entrepreneurship. In 2019, she was the host of a back-to-school giveaway program in Kingston through her foundation, which provided school supplies to over 500 children.
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