Who orders coffee during a really hot day? Well, high school student, Mikayla Simpson did, and so her friends nicknamed her “Koffee”. Who’s this teen girl called “Koffee”? Koffee is the voice behind Jamaican reggae’s new style. An artist, rapper, disc jockey, and guitarist, hailing from popular ex-capital of Jamaica, Spanish Town, Koffee refers to herself as a “sing-jay-guitarist”.
The 5’0” teen, raised by her mother, and gaining her appreciation for music from her upbringing in the Seventh Day Adventist Church Choir, taught herself to play the guitar. This 19- year old is being described as one of the most “forward-thinking, globally focused teenage talents to emerge in 2018”.
There is a saying “real recognizes real” and in this case, it might be talent recognizing talent. Koffee uploaded a video with her playing her guitar and singing a tribute, Legend to Jamaican sprinter Usain As Koffee explained, or rather exclaimed, “He reposted it. So that was kind of the first recognition that I got as an artist.” The rest, as they say, is ‘history’. Producers and labels began pursuing Koffee and in 2017 she recorded “Burning”, a song about not being accepted into sixth form college. It was spotted by Columbia UK.
In “Burning”, the much musically referenced idea of fire for cleansing and that can-do attitude mixed with echoes of Bob Marley’s philosophical style could be heard. The official video begins “even if it takes forever, we will still chase our dreams.”
“Burning” grew out of Koffee’s desire to inspire herself to move forward in spite of being disappointed at not getting into post-secondary Sixth Form after she graduated from Ardenne High School. “Burning” spent three weeks at number one on The Foundation Radio Network’s Top 30 Reggae Chart covering New York City and South Florida. Now, 19-year-old Koffee is forwarding what some are calling ‘contemporary reggae’, artists delving back to the conscious sounds of Bob Marley type roots reggae. As Marley put it, “Roots, rock, reggae, dis a reggae music.”
Real recognizing real
in 2018 Jamaican reggae/dancehall artiste, Cocoa Tea brought her on stage at the 2018 Rebel Salute and Rototom Sunsplash in Jamaica and Spain, respectively. Then, Protoje invited her to perform with him. Chronixx also asked her to join him in performances at the Alexandra Palace in the U.K. On November 10, 2018, Koffee and Chronixx appeared on BBC Music, introducing “LIVE”, then came, “Toast”.
Toasting her mentors
Her single, “Toast“, was produced by Walshy Fire of Major Lazer with Chronixx and Protoje appearing in the video. Koffee won single of the year with “Toast” at the Jamaican Music Industry Association awards. Koffee’s gratitude is evident. She explained, “Once I entered the industry, Walshy reached out to me. I have to give props to all these older people who actually reach out to the younger folks who are coming into the industry and starting to do music.” In 2019, Tory Lanez did a remix to “Toast” as a part of his International Fargo project.
Koffee also notes Bob Marley as an influence on her reggae style. “The pace that Bob Marley set in reggae music, on such a positive and widespread level, is something that I want to emulate and carry on. I want to honour his legacy in that sense,” she says.
Koffee Rapture EP
“Koffee come inne like a rapture, and everybody get capture, blaze it up like helicopter when dem a see the lyrical doctor” begins the single “Rapture”. For this teen “sing-jay-guitarist” the message is clear, she explains, “I have to show the proof, so I have to bring the EP together to show ‘Look, I really made a move and I came here to work, to put in the vibes!‘”
Even as reggae tops her musical agenda, Koffee noted that 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. 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.”
By Kerriann Toby
Kerriann Toby is a dynamic therapist currently pursuing her Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD). She is a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) and has trained as a cyber counselor. Her areas of experience, expertise, and interest include child development, sexual and reproductive health, gender-related matters, marriage and family life and promoting the idea of positive psychology, using strengths to support mental health and wellbeing.
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