Jamaican reggae superstar Koffee has released her debut album “Gifted,” and judging from the rave reviews the album has received from critics and fans alike, it is sure to make its mark on the recording industry.
Koffee, who was born Mikayla Simpson in Spanish Town, Jamaica, first came to the public’s attention when she was a teenager, posting some major freestyling on the stream of BBC Radio. In 2019, her EP, “Rapture,” combined reggae and dancehall genres with 21st-century hip-hop and ultimately made the singer the first woman and the youngest individual to win a Grammy award in the “Best Reggae Album” category.
There are ten tracks on the “Gifted” album, and according to critics, the singer alternates between expressing her thanks for just being alive and confidently taking her place in the world. She displays her virtuosity and dexterity – what she calls “aqueduct flow” – and offers her beautiful singing voice on songs like the title track “Gifted” and on “Runaway.” With the most traditional and classic reggae track, “Lonely,” Koffee puts her skills as a rapper to good use. Other tracks cited as offering the kind of recordings that brought her recognition early on, including “Where “I’m From” and “Defend,” as well as the timely “Lockdown,” bring some of the album’s finest moments.
In an interview with Clash, Koffee talked about her roots in Spanish Town and growing up in a single-parent family – just herself and her mother – that was very active in their church. She noted that she had two influences in her life then: CDs that her mother had of artists like Shaggy and U-Roy and the Seventh Day Adventist church, which she attended every week. She said that she learned discipline from the routine, and she became grateful and tried to help other people. “I learned to pay homage,” she added.
Her love of music was a constant in her life. At the age of six, she wanted to be a singer, and when she got her first guitar at age 12, she went “head-first” into reggae, she told the Clash interviewer. Because her favorite artists like Popcaan and Chronixx did not use “church-friendly” lyrics, she hid her love of dancehall and reggae from her mother. She knew she wanted to become an artist and that she knew what kind of music she wanted to sing. However, she also said that she has never left the spirit of the church and that its teachings are still a part of her and operate on a deep level in her work and her life.
The singer added that she took a need for music to be close to her heart from the church and that she wants to up-life people with her work.
Her debut album “Gifted” was recorded in different studios around the world on different continents, but there is a commonality through all of the sessions. “Certain disciplines, like gratitude and positivity, I try to keep to my core,” she told Clash, noting, “What you put in is what you get out.”