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Spice wants Dancehall to finally get the respect it deserves for influencing the world’s music

“I don’t think people realize dancehall has birthed so many other genres including hip hop,” Queen of Dancehall Spice told REVOLT for Black Music Month. “Even if you listen to Drake, you can hear a little bit of dancehall mixed in.”

Spice Sterling Photography

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It takes a true force to be able to rise to the top of a genre and remain there without even having to drop a full-length project for over 10 years, and that is currently the case with the beloved reigning Queen of Dancehall, Jamaica’s very own Spice. However, after years and years of providing empowering hits for her people to celebrate life with, the recording artist has decided it’s finally time to unleash her highly anticipated album TEN.

Named after the number of years she has spent working on it and building up to this moment, Spice is anxious for her fans to finally hear the precious body of work. The album is led by her new single “Go Down Deh,” which boasts assists from two legendary names from her home court: Shaggy and Sean Paul.

On the topic of demanding respect for the beloved genre of dancehall, Spice strongly feels it can be earned through collaboration. “Together we are a force to be reckoned with,” she passionately told us.

For Black Music Month, REVOLT caught up with Spice to discuss her forthcoming TEN album, what it was like to work with the legendary Shaggy and Sean Paul, dancehall not getting the respect it deserves, the importance of Black music and Black artists, and much more. Check out our conversation below!

Spice Sterling Photography

How are you feeling about the positive reception to your new single “Go Down Deh”?

I’m feeling honored and humbled at the same time. It’s one of the lead singles from the album and they’re doing so well, so it’s really an honor especially knowing I managed to put the two legends together on a song. It’s humbling. Since the day it came out, it’s still trending here in Jamaica. It’s a moment because it’s been trending for three straight weeks.

You were able to bring together two legends, Shaggy and Sean Paul. How did it all come together?

It was pretty easy I must say. I was the one who reached out to Shaggy and I wanted to do a song with him. He responded right away, invited me to his studio and I went to New York to vibe with him, and that’s where we did “Go Down Deh.” I said it would be amazing to add Sean Paul on it. We sent it to Sean and the next day he sent me back his verse and I was like “Wow.” It was all pretty smooth.

How are you feeling about finally dropping your TEN album and why is now the right time?

I’m feeling great about it and I’m just happy for my fans, and I’m elated because when the album comes on, they’re going to have so many good tracks. I’m anxious for them to hear all the other songs that I have on it. It’s been ten years and a lot of people don’t even realize that because I’ve still been releasing a lot of hits for the last few years. This is going to be the first album we put out together with the label. That’s why I titled the album [TEN]. It’s been a long time and I’m just anxious for the fans to hear the versatility.

Ten years ago, I don’t know if it would have been the right time. I think now, being on “Love and Hip Hop” and being the reigning queen of dancehall, and being one of the top female artists coming out of Jamaica, it’s just the right time now. I always tell people that when the time is right, it’s going to be the right time, so it doesn’t matter how long it takes. I know it’s the right moment because eyes are on me. So, I’m just happy to know that this summer, everybody is going to be whinin’ to “Go Down Deh” and all the other songs on the album.

What was your favorite studio session while creating this album and why did this moment stick with you?

The studio session I remember the most was being at Ranch, which is Shaggy’s studio. After recording over 15 tracks and we were just reviewing and voicing our opinions, chatting, and laughing, I realized and came to terms that my album is actually going to be out after 10 years. I got emotional and I was super excited. I think that was such a memorable moment for me, when I was just listening back to my album at Ranch and listening to how dope they are. I’ll never forget that time.

With June being Black Music Month, it’s a great time to reflect on how powerful the influence of music created by Black people truly is. In what ways do you think such an empowering and energetic genre like Dancehall influenced the landscape of music?

Dancehall has changed the whole aspect of music altogether. I don’t think people realize dancehall has birthed so many other genres including hip hop. It was a DJ from Jamaica, DJ Kool Herc, who went to New York and that’s how hip hop was born.

Do you think dancehall gets the respect it deserves?

I don’t think dancehall gets the respect it deserves. I think reggae music does, and that’s because of Bob Marley and when you say reggae music, everyone knows him. Dancehall is more like the underdog and it doesn’t get the respect it deserves even though it has influenced so many other genres. Even if you listen to Drake, you can hear a little bit of dancehall mixed in. Even in the fashion world, dancehall has a whole fashion culture that international people use and give credit to other cultures.

Do you think there’s a way to demand the respect for dancehall?

One of the best ways to get the respect we deserve is how I started off my album, which is coming together. Together we are a force to be reckoned with. Me working with these legends opened people’s eyes to show them that dancehall is about unity and we can come together to unite to become a bigger force to be reckoned with. I think that’s the best start to come together to show our music and our talent to the world.

Spice Sterling Photography

You have been active in the music world for over a decade. What is the biggest change you have seen in the dancehall space and does it make you excited for the future or miss how it used to be?

The biggest change that I have seen in the dancehall world is there are more female artists. When I was starting in the business over a decade ago, I was one of the only female artists in the business. There weren’t a lot of names out there and now there are so many more women in dancehall out here, who I can commend, who are extremely good. That’s definitely one major change I see and it makes me excited for the future. It’s a male dominated field, but maybe in the future, it can be a female dominated one.

Why is Black music so important?

I believe that so many Black artists have given us so many great tracks to change our lives. There has been so much great Black music throughout the years that there would be no music without Black people. I don’t see music itself without Black artists. Society has made it so fickle to compare anything, but it’s just the truth. Black people are so influential to music, I’m not afraid to say that.

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