When Nicki Minaj said Caribbean girls run it, she didn’t lie. Shenseea continues to make her presence known and her artistry the topic of conversation. From versatile freestyles to her incredible catalog of records, the 26-year-old has built a lane for herself while honing her pen game and pushing boundaries for her peers.
On top of securing fire features on wax, the rising lyricist is collaborating on Vita Coco Spiked with Captain Morgan, alongside Sean Paul and Myke Towers, to promote the new beverage, which is serving “tropical flavor all summer long with the crack of a can.” The initiative is part of Captain Morgan’s “Tropical Takeover Tour” promising “certified island vibes and performances from the hottest Caribbean artists.”
In this vibrant interview with REVOLT, Shenseea talks about joining forces with the beverage company, working with The Chainsmokers, how Nicki Minaj influenced her to write lyrics, and her dreams coming full circle. Read the exclusive below.
You recently dropped a record with The Chainsmokers called “My Bad.” What were the pros and cons of crossing over into another genre?
It has been difficult because the con here is my Caribbean people aren’t used to this from me, while the positive is I am getting to expose myself in a way I always wanted to, and it makes me happy to do so. It makes me happy to be an artist — to allow myself to be creative because artists are creators. [The Chainsmokers] provided me a platform where I’m able to create in an authentic way, so it doesn’t come off where it seems like I’m trying to do something or be something I’m not. The Chainsmokers called me and are helping me to bring my vision to life. I’m so grateful for this opportunity.
As you experiment with your sound, what advice would you give to fellow artists who want to do the same despite the scrutiny that sometimes comes with it?
I would suggest, if you’re looking to expand, do it because you want to do it. You have to be willing to pick yourself up off the floor when the naysayers are putting their fears on you. You have to want it for yourself and be confident this is what you want to do. If you have a dream or a vision, go for it and stay true to yourself. Follow your dreams because it will make you happy, as it has made me happy. Everyone is looking at everything I’m going through, which is special because they can see the fight I’m getting, but still see me pushing and persevering. I want to be an example [to] people who are afraid to crossover or expand, so they can say, “Yo, Shenseea is doing it, so I can, too.” Your destiny is for you, and God put you on this Earth for a reason, so maximize it to your full potential and don’t hold back.
You’re collaborating on Vita Coco Spiked with Captain Morgan. How does the drink “bring you back to the tropics”?
This collaboration brings me back to the tropics because of Vita Coco – the coconut taste and everything about it is very tropical. I’m a coconut lover, so I felt it was the best partnership for me as well because it’s authentic to me. I love coconut. I have to get coconut when I go to the Caribbean islands — like, it’s a must (laughs).
The world is celebrating hip hop 50. If you had to describe the taste of Vita Coco Spiked with Captain Morgan using a rap record, what song would you choose?
I would choose “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj. It makes my heart beat and the taste makes me go baboombaboom (laughs).
Busta Rhymes’ 2023 BET Awards set featuring dancehall artists reminded the world that Jamaicans were an integral part of creating hip hop. What are your thoughts on how Caribbean people have influenced the genre?
We’re the people who helped form it – [and] people, even in America, draw inspiration from [Caribbean] artists. We can’t do it in a way that seems authentic to Americans because we don’t speak like Americans and we have our own dialect, which is Patois. If you look at it, it’s the same thing. So, when I do my deejaying, which Americans call rapping because they see me doing the same thing, but can’t pinpoint what I’m saying because of dialect, but it’s the same thing. I feel like Caribbeans, as you said (laughs), people like living legends in my time say we are what hip hop came from – Jamaican people.
As an island gyal, how do you keep your pen game strong while also delivering fun records for your audience?
When you see me doing my freestyles, that’s practice for me and that’s fun for me. It gives me practice, it’s fun as hell, and new fans and old fans love it.
There’s a renaissance happening as women reign and provide a fresh take while having fun with rap. Which “it girl” are you a fan of and why?
From today’s time, I’m going to say Cardi B because she broke through so many barriers when she stepped on the scene and helped open the doors wider for female rappers as well. She helped put on so many female rappers when she released her visual with [Megan Thee Stallion] for “WAP.” I could never forget it because it was a highlight for me to see all those rappers in the video get those cameos. She continues to do collabs now with many female girlies… having three records that are diamond… She has achieved success on a different level. She has done so while still being true and authentic with a vibrant personality. She came out saying she’s a star, but remains herself and I love that.
Name a hip hop star who influenced your artistry in an impactful way.
Nicki Minaj has contributed to how I do my raps today and has influenced me to write because when I was younger, I always wanted to be an international singer and a global superstar doing pop music. When I discovered Nicki Minaj and she enforced people need to write their raps, she was like a mother telling me to do my work (laughs). Nicki has influenced me to write my own lyrics and to go hard regardless of my gender.
You performed at Dream Weekend six years after working as a bottle girl at the event. Why was that moment so emotional for you?
The bottle girls back when I was one would tell me now that I did it. I don’t think anyone, including myself, saw this coming. I was in the crowd and was serving so many bottles to patrons, hustling and it’s crazy because even when I was doing that, that was the year my first song I ever recorded in a studio was out. I remember I was passing my song around with my manager to different DJs and they had it playing, so I’m serving and nobody knew it was me playing on the speakers. It’s crazy that I can look at myself and see that I achieved my dreams, now performing on a stage where my song first played years ago at the same event. Everytime I think about it, I could’ve still been there waiting tables and God has put me on stage to perform – it shows me how real God is.
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