On The Radar: Koffee


Koffee is making some of the most positive and powerful new music around at the moment. Aged 19, the singer, rapper and guitarist from Eltham View in Spanish Town, outside Kingston, Jamaica, isn’t shy about discussing her art. “My music is geared towards positive messages and positive vibes,” she begins, speaking to Music Week during a trip to Los Angeles. “Basically, it’s about female empowerment, eliminating corruption and embracing culture and young people.”

Real name Mikayla Simpson, the singer’s moniker comes from the time she opted to refresh herself with hot coffee on a boiling day. Heat, it turns out, is something of a theme – a key song in introducing her lively, modern take on reggae was last year’s Burning. Helpfully, much of her upcoming Rapture EP sounds like it’s on fire; bass, melody and Koffee’s distinctive flow combusting together. “I recognise how influential music can be, so putting positive messages out there is important,” she says. “That’s me trying to make a difference and benefit society. These subjects are important to me because speaking [about] them will be productive, not only something to vibe to, but something to turn into a much greater cause, ultimately.”

Alongside confidence and positivity, Koffee’s music is fuelled by curiosity. The first spark came while singing in church as a child. “Singing in the choir was natural to me,” she explains. “I was raised by a Christian mum, so we would go to church and, being in church, you’re almost expected to be in the choir. “My love for music drove my curiosity [towards] playing certain instruments, intriguing instruments like the guitar. It drove me to [explore] music in different ways.” Inspired by Saint Elizabeth reggae act Proteje (an idol who has since asked Koffee to perform alongside him), she experimented with music and lyrics. At 16, she won a school talent contest, and then caught a break when Legend, an acoustic tribute to Usain Bolt, was reposted by its subject on social media. All the while, Koffee was dreaming of the influence her music could have. “I want my music to speak to everybody. It is definitely important for me to inspire my generation because I see how influential music can be on them,” she says. “I know what the wave [feeling] is among them and it could make a difference for me to create something good for them to enjoy, and that’s not always the case with music and media.”

For Koffee, music is most definitely a force for good, and she packs hers with electric energy, it’s a fearless, agile take on a historic sound. “It’s up to music makers to decide whether it’s for good or bad, everybody has the capacity to be positive or negative,” she says. “I try to be positive and channel that into music by being truthful.” Koffee sounds deadly serious but also nonchalant, as if this all comes very naturally. “My music’s been doing a very good job so far,” she says. “I feel very good about it.”

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