“Anything weh yuh no understand you ask man, that is why we are here.”
June in | Interview
Lila Iké and The Mama Song Formula
Lila Iké’s song, “Biggest Fan” is a rarity for me among female Reggae artistes. In my experience “mama songs” are usually reserved for males– Gyptian’s, “Mama Don’t Cry” and Sizzla’s, “Thank You Mama” pop up to me easily– not because females love their mothers less than males do but because Jamaican parents are usually harder and are generally more influential on their sons than on their daughters. So when Lila’s debut single gave a female perspective on a personal struggle, her career path, it was not only different from Gyptian’s and Sizzla’s song for that reason, it was also refreshing and more intimate to me.
The song has propelled her to go on tour with Protoje, who currently signs Lila under his In.Digg.Nation Collective label. I asked her what sort of emotions performing for a different crowd every time evokes. I wondered how scary it was. She said, “Performing on tour does evoke a lot of emotions. I am excited because I get to finally do what I have always dreamt of doing. Performing in a different space is also exciting and scary because I don’t know what to expect.” And I feel like that is the benefit of being a new artiste. There is freedom to surprise the audience, no one really knows what your presence is suppose to feel like as yet and maybe this why she said of performing, “I usually have no expectations and so I challenge myself to please every set of audience both at home and away… [I want] to bring good vibes always and provide music that is universally accepted and in the same breath make my mom proud that I am actually doing what I wanted to do something that she was scared of.” And Listening to, “Biggest Fan” you understand her mother’s fear. Being in the music industry is often seen as harsh and unforgiving especially for females. In one line Lila sings of her mom’s fear of sexual favours, “You feel like no producer bwoy can carry go a studio and lock up.”
But I think Ms. Ike is half way there because her curly afro and John Lennon specs has given her a signature style, which she explained was somehow born out of comfort.“The glasses are tested (I’m far sighted lol) but I chose to get the frames in that style because I don’t like the regular frames. My hair is just easier to handle in an afro so I normally wear it like that; I guess overtime it has become a signature but my style is really not limited at all. I style according to my mood really.”
But even with eye catching image, for younger audiences popular music nowadays is almost completely reserved for Dancehall. Once in awhile you will hear one or two Reggae songs being dropped in a prime time segment at a dance– most recently there is Romain Virgo’s, “Now” –but the crowds don’t come to the parties and the dances for Reggae and Lila sees this. Getting exposure is hard, especially for females. “I feel exposure is hard to gain for females in the music business and because of this females usually feel that its easier to “buss ” quicker in Dancehall rather than Reggae music.” And maybe it is but for the music she produces thankfully there is a new wave of young Reggae artists, Chronixx & Protoje lead the charge, reinvigorating young people and Lila is prepared to ride the wave while still understanding that, “one of the major challenges is making a career out of it [Reggae music]- in and out of Jamaica. I got the opportunity to perform for yaad and abroad and see where it is very well received and is in demand so this has inspired me and I’ve become more driven to conquer the odds.”
It is this perseverance that in a twist, has made her mom come around, and has given Lila inspiration for her first major single. It is a twist that she really appreciates. “What surprises me most is because I believed in my music for myself, I got to see my mother turned a listen ear. Not only that, she has been encouraging me since and this all happened in a short period.” Her Mom is one of her biggest motivators and that is the winning formula for the perfect “mama song” I have realized: appreciation + love = mother heroines. “Mama Don’t Cry had it,” “Thank You Mama” had it, and now “Biggest Fan” has it and if you don’t believe me while on stage Lila confesses, “While performing sometimes (lol) I usually mute the crowd and imagine my mom is the only one sitting in the audience. At that point I feel so proud of myself and my brand which I’m creating.”
June in | Photojournalism
4. James Comey Testifies
3. Carlos Hills Walks
2. Jamaica’s 19% Crime Increase
1. The London Fire
Flights, beaches, pink skies, night festivals, treading water, coming home at dawn… snapshots of Summer ‘17.
June in | Guest Blogger
Glenisha was contacted to write, in no more than 400 words, on the statement: self-promotion is a necessary price to pay for branding even if we are largely pretending to be the person (a future ideal self) we want to become. The statement was borne out of a NY Times article that I read recently, which got me thinking about how social media has normalized pretense by placing it under the disguise of self-promotion. Self-promotion too has become a word that some people believe can be transposed with self-expression– two different things– but it can be all so confusing. I wanted to know what the blogging community thought about this shift in how we express ourselves in the social media age. Are we often pretending or are we expressing the law of attraction when we post our perfect selves for the world to see? Glenisha:
We live in an era dominated by technology therefore it is easy to be influenced and fall into the “fake it to make it” game. While some may argue and state that the law of attraction (the ability to attract into our lives whatever we focus on) can play a part, at what point do you actually believe [in who you think you are] and are you trying to convince yourself or the world? When it comes to self-promotion and making a name for ourselves do we think about “self” first or do we think about how others may see us?
Like a single mother of three working two jobs to provide for her family, she may be seen as strong by her kids but at nights she cries herself to sleep. She’s actually tired and weak but the show must go on. Similar to those who may have their lives together– social media may [seem] play a prevalent role– yet their interior is slowly ripping apart. Yes we all want to live a comfortable, happy lifestyle but what happens when the façade wears off and the likes and comments we so desire stop rolling in?
Research has shown that one in five individuals suffer from depression because of social media. Always wanting to be in the spotlight can be a benefit for anyone climbing the coorperate ladder but how do you maintain the status and still be true to you? While this can be motivation for others, are you fueling your higher conscious self or the ego?
Most of these people always have a following of friends whose lives may not be going the way as expected yet they accept the little recognition gained even though they may be lacking in one area–so it is a competition to get to the top but after that, then what? Were you even true to yourself and your goals? How do you brand yourself and not let the ego define you? If you lose yourself, you lose it all.
Glenisha McGillivary is a 26 year old who started her blog, The Fab Life Story earlier this year. She is a Grenadian who enjoys nature walks, reading, travelling and watching TV. She’s recently started yoga and meditation, which admittedly has helped her to live in the present moment. Blogging is her way of journaling, achieving and challenging herself.
June in | Rant
Green bomber jackets make an outfit. Yes. Green bomber jackets– bombay, bomb-er?— should replace all cardigans as the official work accessory. Cardigans scream, ” I am harmless and a Christian so don’t hurt me, the 9-5 does that to me already.” It breaks my heart.
And while we are at it why no sleeveless at work? I went to the RGD office the other day? No sleeveless there too. As if flesh of the upper arm will cause disruption. Not everyone can pull off the Michelle Obama strength of a woman look so tell those offices to stop flattering themselves at our expense. Had to come back with a jacket to get my business done, enuh? Unreal.