Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Shenseea & Nailah Blackman: Caribbean Women in Music, the Next Generation

They are the future of Caribbean music. They represent the electronic fusion of international sounds, with the pure and passionate heart of the islands. Generation next. Full of talent, and yet just beginning their careers. The longevity of our music is in good hands.

Hearing Jamaican recording artiste Shenseea and Trinidadian songstress Nailah Blackman performing together on their collaborative tune "Badishh" reminds us about everything that is wonderful in Caribbean music: the rhythms, first and foremost. Those drums! The bounce. The unique blend of voices. The infectious melodies. The familiar dialect. Those of us who love Caribbean music appreciate it because of its vibe, but rate it mainly because of how it makes us feel: ALIVE!

The collaboration of these two young women is a great testament to how the year 2017 concluded, and how 2018 is proving to be thus far. While women across the world were marching, and uniting, and collectively standing in their strength and "reclaiming their spaces" publicly, you could almost feel the shift. Politically. Socially. And now, even musically.

Females in reggae and soca music are not an anomaly, by any means. In fact, women have always played an integral part in the music's flare, development, and soul. Tracing the roots of Jamaican reggae, or Trinidadian soca back generations, we discover names that are as familiar to us now as they were to our predecessors.

Buy "Badishh" on iTunes
Melodies that were catchy in the 60s are still catchy now. Riddims that made our parents dance, are the same riddims--revisited--that make us dance now. Society has evolved and the sounds have evolved with technology, but one thing is consistent: the groove. The sensuality. The electricity that the female voice brings to the sounds from the Caribbean.

Reggae and soca have their distinct differences (and always have) but there are times when the lines are so blurred...and the classification is so irrelevant. When you hear Shenseea and Nailah Blackman performing their hit "Baddish" of the past few months, no one is concerned about what specific category the tunes fall into. As long as it's almost doesn't matter. Real music lovers don't need a category to appreciate a true, true jam.

That's what made this particular collabo of talents so special: it could have easily been a soca hit during the carnival road march in T&T...and it could groove equally as vibrantly at a street dance in JA. With the addition of the young energy and originality that these two ladies are bringing to the game, they can perform in either genre and still get ratings.


Born Chinsea Lee in Mandeville, Manchester, the 22-year-old can proudly look at her young career and know that she already has a massive hit collaboration with Vybz Kartel on her list of accomplishments. Already. After just entering the Jamaican reggae music scene in 2016. Easily winning the accolades of "Break Out Celebrity" and "Young Hot and Hype Artiste" at the Youth View Awards by the end of the year.

Even before she hit the stage and started travelling the globe, she was a familiar face among the island's promotional industry. A representative of Hennessey, Red Stripe, Magnum, and Smirnoff, Shenseea could only be heard singing in the church up until recently.

Juggling responsibilities of motherhood (she has a son named Raj) and academia, she was enrolled in College and pursuing a career in Entertainment Management just the other day. It hasn't been that long. She went from humbly taking care of her education and her child, to topping music charts and building a tour itinerary that would send her across continents.

It's no secret that Shenseea had a fast descent into stardom, and it's also evident that this is truly just the beginning of what is promising to be a lucrative career. Earlier this year, the Jamaica Star noted that this lady could be classified as a "dancehall singjay-meets-rapper" and she could surely add that her intent is to not only take over the world of reggae, but also top the international charts. Pop music is her first love, and a part of the vision for her future in music.

A former tomboy, Shenseea attended high school in Kingston, but unfortunately wasn't able to settle into a comfortable home routine during her youth. Her mother's employment--and the convenience of being able to stay with family members while her single mother worked--had Shenseea moving around frequently. Dedicated to providing a nurturing environment and lifestyle for her son, she worked hard to be a great example and to step into her greatness.

With the guidance of her manager Romeich Major. Shenseea is headed towards continued momentum. Adding Pepsi, Flow, and Campari to her repertoire of corporate partnerships, her reggae EP this year is sure to solidify her position in the Caribbean music industry. There's a magnetism to her that is unique, and an energy that will continue to push her towards being an amazing performer and young trailblazer.


She didn't have a choice. Being raised the granddaughter of Lord Shorty, the daughter of Abbi Blackman, niece of Isaac Blackman and Nehilet was only natural that Nailah Blackman would emerge as a musical force. A consummate artist, her singing only complemented by her song writing, poetry, fashion design, instrumentation, and dance. An optimist: she knows that her talents are a culmination of her experiences and lineage.

She spells the genre of her family's legacy as S-O-K-A-H, just as her grandmother did. As her grandfather originally intended. The namesake of her mother's clothing brand, and the spirit of her heritage, Nailah clings to the original spelling of the sound that has driven her career to first-time heights.

Gaining inspiration from various genres of music, from soca, to jazz, to East Indian, to pop music, the 20-year-old is determined to keep the original spirit of the music remain within her--as a musical education to others.

Her tracks "Sokah" and "Baila Mami" were just introduced to us last year, in 2017. Already her voice is one that is too unique to not love, and one that is original enough for us to crave it as we go forward in music. We want to hear her forthcoming collaborations. We want to see her perform. We have barely experienced the limits of the artist that is Nailah Blackman, and it is already evident that the journey is going to be one that is full of vibes, amazing vocals, and true energy.

Needless to say, Shenseea and Nailah Blackman are hotter than hot right now. And as they build their catalogs, continue to study their craft, and ascend in the Caribbean music scene and international music industry, we confidently know what legacy they are rooted in. We know where their inspiration has come from. They are two of the freshest female Caribbean artists right now--and there are dozens and dozens more that they have channeled in spirit...some of the baddest females out there:

Alicia Cinnamon
Alison Hinds
Althea & Donna
Angie Ange
Anna Fisher
Audrey Hall
Brick and Lace
Calypso Rose
Carlene Davis
Carol Gonzales
Carol T
Cherine Anderson
Cherry Natural
Claudette Peters
Dawn Penn
Denise Belfon
Destra Garcia
Diana King
Erica Newell
Fay-Ann Lyons Alvarez
Foxy Brown
Hortense Ellis
Irie Love
Janet Kay
JC Lodge
Joanna Marie
Jovi Rockwell
Judy Mowatt
Kim Davis
Kreesha Turner
Kris Kelli
Lady G
Lady Saw (Minister Marion Hall)
Lady Venus
Leba Hibbert
Lil Bitts
Lorna Bennett
Louisa Mark
Macka Diamond
Marcia Aitken
Marcia Griffiths
Michelle Sylvester
Michie and Lou Chi
Millie Small
Miss Thing
Ms Paige
Mystic Davis
Nadia Batson
Nadine Sutherland
Nailah Blackman
Naomi Cowan
Natalie Storm
Pam Hall
Patrice Roberts
Phyllis Dillon
Queen Ifrica
Queen Omega
Queen Paula
Raine Seville
Rita Marley
Rochelle B
Samantha J
Sandra Joy Alcott
Sharon Marley
Sheila Hylton
Sister Carol
Sophia George
Susan Cadogan
Sylvia Tella
Tami Chynn
Tanya Mullings
Tanya Stephens
Tonya P
Winsome B

We love them! We respect them! We honour their contribution to music, and we eagerly await the next wave of sounds, trends, and classics. We have asked Toronto's DJ Majesty to put together a special (but brief) all female reggae and soca mix, in celebration of Ms. Shenseea and Ms. Nailah Blackman in particular...and all those who graciously--and fiercely--came before them.

Listen here:

Connect with DJ Majesty here:

Inspired by the strength of Caribbean females, here's a fictional love story that was created to the backdrop of those very voices listed above:

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.

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