Koffee is one of Jamaica’s rising stars who has become known worldwide through her talent for songwriting. A Jamaican, who at 20 years old has accomplished much in the music industry, having won a Grammy Award in February 2020. Her story is one of rags to riches, as she came from a struggling family; having hoped for a traditional career, she turned to her passion music when that failed. She is well-known for her songs: “Toast,” “Burning,” “Raggamuffin,” and "Rapture.”
Born in the year 2000 in Spanish Town, just outside of Kingston, Jamaica, Koffee was bought up by her single mother. “Mummy struggled so I didn’t have to,” remembers Koffee. Her mother is an occasional actress who works for the Ministry of Health and who gives sex education and body positivity talks to young people.
Koffee attended high school in Kingston where she earned her name, “Koffee.” She was usually seen with her school friends drinking coffee while they were having cold drinks. The name stuck with her, so she adopted it as her stage name.
Musical Career Start
Koffee began her musical life as a child in the church choir. Here, she learnt melody and harmony. At the age of 12, she taught herself guitar after a friend lent her his spare one. She began writing lyrics in her bedroom after being inspired by the reggae singer Protoje – just a few lines here and there, initially, a chorus or a verse. In 2016, she accidentally auditioned for her school talent show – and won.
Musical Career 2017
Koffee’s following started to build and was further enhanced in 2017 when she jumped on Upsetta Records’ Ouji Riddim, made popular by Jamaican legends Busy Signal and Luciano with the song, Burning. “Burning came from a disappointing experience,” remembers Koffee. “I applied for 6th Form(Grades 12 -13) but I didn’t get in and I felt really disappointed by that. So Burning was an inspiration to myself, to push myself forward to say, “You can’t let this out your flame. Literally it was me parking a fire within myself to go forward and excel in something else, because education didn’t look like it was working out. I say, “Me have a burning sound, me a burn the city down; I meant, like, lighting a fire in Kingston, bringing that energy.”
Musical Career 2018
She quickly caught the eye of those in the know; in January 2018, reggae hero Cocoa Tea brought Koffee onto the stage at Rebel Salute (a yearly reggae show in Jamaica). Her idol Protoje also asked her to perform with him, while Chronixx, one of the island’s biggest contemporary reggae stars, invited Koffee to join him on a broadcast from from Big Yard studio in Jamaica.
Describing herself as sitting somewhere between a singer, a rapper (known as a DJ in Jamaica) and a guitarist, Koffee’s current output has tended towards the more traditional Jamaican rhythms. While reggae however is on the agenda at the moment, Koffee intends to take in the many artists who have influenced her over the years, from Protoje and Super Cat to St Louis rapper Smino and UK Rap star Giggs. “I learn a lot from flows – when I listen to music, that’s what I’m tuned into, that’s what I want to continue to experiment with. I can see myself doing bashment, dancehall, everything.” The possibilities are endless for this talented entertainer. “I’m not going to limit myself. I see myself doing many things in the future, I’m not going to narrow myself to one thing. I want to try it all.”
The socio-political problems that permeate parts of Jamaica have seeped into Koffee’s music, helping to make Koffee the artist she is today. “With a lot of my music, it’s about entertaining people while highlighting problems in order to try and find a solution. I genuinely want to make the world a better place.”
Koffee’s debut EP Rapture was released by Columbia Records on March 14, 2019. Rapture won a Grammy Award at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards, making Koffee the youngest person (at 19 years old) and only woman to be awarded in the Best Reggae Album category.
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Jacqueline Cameron is an editor/writer with years of writing experience running the gamut from blogging to reporting. She lives in Kingston, Jamaica and is the chief writer for the Jamaica So Nice Blog. She is a trained engineer and musician and loves to see people transformed through her work.