Mikayla ‘Koffee’ Simpson: ‘Gifted’ star continues to ‘Shine’

Yasmine Peru

April 13, 2022

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THE DISTINGUISHED — ENTERTAINMENT

Koffee’s whirlwind rise to stardom is certainly one for the books.

In 2017, she released her debut single, and by January 2018, the teenage sensation had a moment to shine when veteran singer Cocoa Tea brought her on stage at Rebel Salute in Jamaica and Rototom Sunsplash in Spain. Protoje subsequently asked her to perform with him. Chronixx invited her to join him on a BBC Radio 1Xtra broadcast from Tuff Gong Studios, and she went on to tour with him in the UK at venues such as Bush Hall and Alexandra Palace.

Koffee upped the ante with her December 2018 single, Raggamuffin, which called out gun violence and government neglect of the youth. BBC Radio 1Xtra named Koffee one of its ‘Hot for 2019’ artistes the same year that she signed with Columbia Records UK. The incredible success of her next single, Toast, which was produced by Izybeats and Walshy Fire of Major Lazer, opened major doors for the youngster.

Rapture, her debut EP on the label, which showcased her versatility and her remarkable wordplay with a mix of traditional reggae instrumentation and slick beats, would go on to win the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album at the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards in 2020.

In November 2019, Koffee was announced as an opening act for Harry Styles on select dates of the North American leg of his 2020 Love On Tour and on December 3 as an opening act for the Latin American leg. She also enjoyed a string of high-profile musical collaborations, including J Hus, Gunna, Daniel Caesar, and also recently contributed to the soundtrack of 2021’s The Harder they Fall on Netflix.

The memories are still fresh in the 21-year-old’s mind. “I look back in admiration at my courage, and I feel very proud now of my growth. I am very thankful to Coco Tea for believing in my talent and taking that step to help me gain the necessary recognition,” she told Flair, sharing that with her newest release, Gifted, her target is impact.

“My dream for my debut album is that it will make the impact that I created it to make,” she said.

To celebrate the release of Gifted, Koffee is taking her electrifying live show to stages across the globe, including the recently announced Gifted Tour of the US as well her debut appearance at Coachella. UK fans will be able to celebrate the album’s release with a number of intimate in-store shows, which started at London’s EartH on the day of release. Later in the year, Koffee will return to the UK to perform at the Glastonbury and All Points East festivals.

The reggae singer, songwriter, rapper, deejay, and guitarist, who continues the trajectory of greatness, recently dropped off her first full-length Sony Music UK/RCA Records album, Gifted, a title she says is intentional.

“I wanted to remind myself, encourage myself, and just bring back that energy of being talented and reminding my fellow creatives that look, no matter what the setback is or how down you may feel like in a certain time, trust me, don’t forget your gift that you have within you. Just remember that once you have life and you have the ability to execute a gift, just use that to the fullness of your ability,” Koffee said in an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1.

Featuring the crossover anthems West Indies, Lockdown, and the JAE5-produced Pull Up, Gifted is set to cement Koffee’s position as the artiste who has reshaped, modernised, and revitalised reggae, bringing it to a whole new audience. It has been described as “a stunning showcase of her vocal, production and songwriting talents”.

To accompany the release of Gifted, Koffee has recorded a series of stripped-back session versions of album tracks for VEVO Sessions – her live performance showcases the powerful simplicity of an artiste alone with their instrument, and with Shine, her dynamic vocals take the track to new levels as it explodes into colour and vibrancy halfway through.

Born Mikayla Simpson, Koffee’s first musical inspirations stemmed from her mother’s Seventh-day Adventist background. She sang in her church choir, taught herself the guitar at the age of 12 on an instrument borrowed from a friend, and began writing lyrics inspired by listening to reggae singer Protoje.

Koffee first gained popularity after uploading a video to Instagram of her singing. A tribute to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, the song Legend became a viral Instagram hit once the athlete reposted it on his own Instagram.

When asked what inspires her to write, Koffee’s answer is simple: real life. “I enjoy exploring themes that emanate joy and highlight my passion for what I do.”

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com

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Yasmine Peru

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