Jamaican dancehall and singing sensation Tifa has taken the Caribbean music world by storm since she hit the scene back in 2005. Though she’s still finding her way on the music charts in America, the songstress has solidified herself as one of Jamaica’s most sought after entertainers.
Tifa Brown’s interest in music was sparked when she began attending Wolmer’s Preparatory School. There, she was involved in the choir, drama and dance clubs, but her Blount’s disease began to develop, hindering her performance skills. We sat down with Tifa, who chatted about everything from being taunted about her appearance, to gradually becoming one of the biggest stars in Jamaica.
Check out our exclusive below.
On her musical influences:
I have a vast amount of musical influences. Everybody intrigues me in some way or the other, from Patti LaBelle to Missy Elliot, Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, Mary J Blige, in Jamaica, Patra, Lady Saw, endless people. It’s a vast amount. I’ve had upbringings both in Jamaica and briefly in Canada, so I have an infusion of both Jamaican and North American influences.
On what inspired her to get into music:
Even before then, my father was a great collector of music. He had chests on chests on chests up on music. My grandmother had a well-known bar and restaurant and music was always there, and I had a lot of cousins that always used to sing and so on. But when my mom started dating my stepdad, that was when I really got the love for it, because that was the first time I got to see what the life is like, what pushing a record is like. Know what I mean? So he definitely inspired me. I was really really young, I was a kid.
On cutting her ties with Headline Entertainment:
I think it was just time. I’ve been with them for five years and I really appreciate everything that they have done for me, but we need to take it to the next level. And I feel like between Solid Agency and a new management, Boxing Entertainment, we can take it on the international level. I still got mad love for them, but it’s just time to bring back dancehall and reggae music on that international level and I hope to be that ambassador for that.
On artists she’d like to work with:
I’ve worked with the majority of the Jamaican artists, but there’s still room to work with more. In terms of here, I’d love to see a Kanye and Tifa track. I’d love to see a Iggy or a Nicki Minaj, Rihanna Caribbean team-up. The possibilities are endless. I’m down to work with anybody who’s down and has a good vibe and is ready to deposit good, fun music.
On 2009 being her breakout year:
Definitely 2009 is my breakout year. “Spell It Out” was a huge record, especially back home and in the Caribbean. I linked up with Digicel, which is a telecommunications giant. That’s a main phone provider back home and in the Caribbean, and I’m a face for that along with persons like Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser, which you know are the number one runners in the world. Tessanne Chin, who has also joined the lineup of brand ambassadors and endorsees by Digicel. I represent Bigga, the soft drink company. That’s Jamaica’s soft drink company, the number one soft drink company back home. I represent Flight Jamaica, which is one of our national airlines. I’ve had endorsements with Nuvo.
On becoming partners with Nuvo:
Nuvo was through Sean Due, the producer of my current track that we’re promoting right now. He’s the one that broke us that deal. That’s basically how that came up, it’s nothing major than that. I’m a household name back home, so a lot of brands want me to represent their product. I get a lot of offers for representation for products.
On feeling like she’s made it:
I’m big back home. They did a survey and they said that I was the first or second most popular person/entertainer back home, but that’s Jamaica. And since Patra, a female hasn’t taken dancehall music to that big international level, and that’s what I want to do. I want to be like that female Shaggy or Sean Paul or even Bigga or even the Jamaican Madonna. That’s where my mindset is right now. I would never say I’ve made it. There is too much work to be done, so I’m only just beginning now.
On her favorite song to perform:
(Laughs). I think my favorite song would be “Body Up.” That’s one of the new tracks; I’m excited about that. They just put “Body Up” in the Hemlock Grove series, the vampire series, and it airs this Friday July 11 on Netflix.
On Blount’s disease affecting her career:
Initially, it affected me because a lot of people were like, ‘OK, where is this handicapped girl going?’ You know what I mean? It’s not like I have a bad walk or anything, I just walk a little cute. Or people call it ‘pigeon-toed.’ But initially people were like, ‘Where is she going?’ And I’m light-skinned, I’m quite Chinese, Asian mixed so they’re like, ‘You don’t look like the typical dancehall artist, usually dancehall artists are more rougher on the edges and so on.’ So they go ‘Where’s the cute girl going, she’s doing dancehall with her legs.’ Now, guys think it’s very sexy, they have a lot of fetishes and fantasies about it and girls want to walk like me. So now it’s not such a big issue.
On which artists she listens to today:
I listen to a lot of people. I love Frank Ocean, I’m always listening to his stuff. I love his voice. Sam Smith, I love his voice also and Disclosure. Of course reggae and dancehall music, I listen to my people of course. Nico and Vinz, “Am I Wrong,” is like my new anthem right now. I listen to a vast genre of music. I don’t only listen to the dancehall and reggae music. I’m very open and I think it helps my music a lot because I’m very open to different genres and different styles of music and so on. I like Iggy Azalea, I think she’s cool right now. Jay Z, Kanye, Jeezy, Weezy, Future, I listen to all of them.
Currently, who is in my playlist that’s R&B right now? Jhene Aiko.
On her cosmetic and hair line:
That’s on hold right now, now I’m putting out the headphones. I’ve joined partnership with SIG to put out the line of headphones, so it’s going to be a full series. I’m going to have a Bluetooth box, the air port and the SIG headphones. The regular “dice” edition, “bling-bling” edition for the girls. So I’m really really excited about that. We’ll do a small launch back home with Digicel and Funfest and then later on this summer, we officially put the headphones out. I already had the purchase order come through and we’re going to be carrying in three hundred Apple stores across the United States, I’m really happy about that.
On what’s next for her:
Basically we just want to take this single to the farthest point it can go in. And putting out the second single, which more than likely will be the “Body Up” track. So I just want to do the first single to create that attraction, that hype, that vibe, and then I’ll put out the album afterwards. That’s my main focus right now. It’s just pushing these two records and creating that live attraction and using that old love for dancehall and fusion. It’s dancehall pop, so it’s not too hardcore and everybody can get into it. So we just want to feel like that whole vibe and hype around dancehall music to show people that it is international music and everybody can get into it. Not everything about it is negative or who’s going to prison, or who’s doing this or that. There is still positivity and there are still people who are making strides in regards to dancehall and reggae music.
PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter