Koffee's Gifted: What You Need to Know
One of the most hotly-tipped artists to emerge from Jamaica in years, singer, songwriter, rapper and DJ Mikayla Simpson – better known as Koffee – was still only 17 when she received her first taste of fame. Her song ‘Legend’, a tribute to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, became a viral hit on Instagram when the record-breaking athlete shared the video with his followers.
Since then Koffee has become a record-breaker in her own right. Her debut EP Rapture, released in 2019, featured collaborations with Major Lazer and Jane Macgizmo and went on to win a Grammy for Best Reggae Album, making Koffee both the youngest artist ever and the only female in history to win the award.
Now 22, Koffee has spent the time since then crafting her keenly-anticipated debut album, Gifted, which makes its arrival in stores this Friday (March 25). Here’s everything you need to know…
A little background…
Since the release of Rapture, Koffee has feature on tracks by J Hus and John Legend, as well as releasing a collaborative single ‘W’ with Atlanta-based rapper Gunna.
Koffee has also released a handful of singles since her Grammy win, including ‘West Indies’ and ‘Pull Up’, both of which feature on her debut album, which was eventually announced in February this year.
Who’s producing it?
Contributors on the production side include Jae5, Dane Ray and iotosh.
Any special guests?
Nope. Although Koffee has worked collaboratively with several high profile artists and has seen her work remixed by more still, on her debut the singer has resisted the temptation to turn Gifted into a guest-fest and it’s just her going it alone here.
What does it sound like?
You might expect a Jamaican reggae artist to pay tribute to the genre’s founders and there isn’t long to wait before opener ‘X10’ tips a hat to Bob Marley, making use of a sample from his 1980 hit ‘Redemption Song’. For the most part though Gifted’s reference points are closer to Jamaica’s more recent exports like Popcaan and Burna Boy, especially towards the album’s second half, which weaves a broader range of influences from dancehall to hip-hop and Nigerian funk.
There are also the more mellow, acoustic guitar-led moments too, which feel more like a nod to the reggae pioneers of old, but for every sweetly-sung melody there’s a frenetic and exhilarating rap verse to balance things out. Early highlights on first listen include the Bob Marley-sampling opener and the laid-back groove of ‘Shine’, as well as singles like ‘West Indies’ and ‘Pull Up’, which serve as two of the album’s biggest party bangers.
Does it deliver?
If you’ve been paying attention to some of the artists emerging from Jamaica in recent years then you could see Koffee’s debut as a logical next step, blending elements between several generations of reggae and dancehall but still pushing forward into new territory. A less-is-more approach to the production and arrangements on Gifted highlight Koffee’s vocal talents as both a singer and a rapper. Even amidst Jamaica’s rich musical history, few of the island’s exports have shown as much promise at such a young age.
Gifted is available in hmv stores now – you can also find it here in our online store.