Her Style, Her Story, Her Truth: Jada Kingdom Brings Soul to Dancehall

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Jada Kingdom

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Every throne comes with a crown, and in the world of Jada Kingdom, she writes her own rules with a royal touch.

Born Jada Ashanti Murphy in 1998, the talented songstress was raised in Bull Bay, a community on the southeastern coastline of Jamaica, nestled between the parishes of St. Andrew and St. Thomas and a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of the nation’s capital, Kingston. Away from the pristine picture of the island’s award-winning tourism allure – beyond the tagline of sun, sea and sand – Jada’s upbringing represented an all-too familiar reality for a community that often grapples with the harsh realities of poverty, strife and socio-economic imbalances.

With a clear conviction to channel her natural abilities, Jada dabbled in spoken word from an early age – penning poems in her teenaged years and eventually graduating to songwriting during her high school era. After her popularity began to grow as a commercial model, she fully transitioned into music in 2017, kickstarting her independent artist journey in 2017 with Love Situations. An ode to heartbreak from an unfaithful partner, therelatable single – coupled with the controversial video – was wellreceived by a growing audience of fans.

Humanizing her unique lived experience for a global music audience has been no easy feat for the stunning songbird. Speaking openly to her fans on her experiences with repeat incidents of sexual violence at the tender age of 14, as well as her fluid sexuality, Jada Kingdom seamlessly injects her personal pain and turns it into purposeful artistry – bringing to the foreground a vulnerability in her music and drawing the listener in with passionate lyricism and refreshing openness. With pronounced tinges of Jazz, pop and R&B sounds, she has already made her mark with bops as the socially-conscious hits “Execution“ which calls for the death penalty for rapists and justice for sexual assault survivors. The music video for her motivational song “WiN” centers around dreaming big while living the raw reality in Jada’s community of 7 Mile in Bull Bay, and has to date amassed over 10 million views on YouTube. She has also showcased her ability to deliver Dancehall bops with songs such as “Banana” and “Heavy.” Having migrated to the United States in the last few years to propel her career journey to higher heights and amassing millions of followers across her social media, Jada certainly has her eyes set on growing success beyond the Caribbean region. Her latest EP, called New Motion, dropped in June 2022, much to the delight of eager fans, and teasingly gives the world a sample of more hits on the horizon from the certified ESYDE Queen

Indeed, there is beauty in this balance: Jada Kingdom manages to maintain the gritty, authentic Dancehall sound in her music, but also uses her Jazz background to bring vocal technique depth while creating a safe space for music lovers by exploring topics that matter. Her versatile approach has paid off – clocking a quarter million monthly listens on Spotify, making her the second most played female artist in Jamaica on that platform and landing her a record deal with New York-based giant Republic Records.Award-winning Music and Entertainment Blogger, Jody-Ann Williams, shares that Jada Kingdom’s success partially lies in continuing the tradition of Caribbean storytelling throughout the generations.

“Jamaican female artists have been sharing their lived experiences through their art for a long time, and this new crop is no different. Whether it’s happy, sad, traumatic, frivolous, sexual – it connects listeners to music in a powerful way, and they are just staying true to their craft,” she explains.

While there has been waves of criticism lamenting the “overtly sexual” nature of artists such as Jada’s single “Dickmatized” and contemporary Dancehall offerings in general, Williams dismisses the claims as surface-level treatment of censorship for a more profound reality that has much more digital reach.

“It’s nothing new – look at Lady Saw, Lady Patra, Tanya Stephens. Dancehall reaches beyond radio now, and with the availability of digital streaming platforms, artists have much more freedom of expression. There are so many other songs that are available in any artist’s catalogue, and men are able to express themselves freely about sex, love and intimacy without criticism, so why can’t women too?” she questions.

According to Williams, this “dream-catcher” generation of Jamaican female entertainers – of which Jada Kingdom is a part – is also exploring new production techniques, team dynamics and genre blends without compromising on authentic Jamaican sound.

“They’re bringing a freshness to the music and it may not be what we are used to, but that’s okay because music is destined to evolve. It’s all about being their authentic selves and presenting their work, their brand, to a public who understands and appreciates who you truly are,” she says.

She hopes that Jada continues to propel Brand Jamaica in a way that creates an identity stamp that ultimately benefits Jamaican culture.

“No matter where they perform in the world, who they’re collaborating with, I hope that they bring the quality and the realness to the industry. It’s never been a one-woman show – and to take it to the top, we have to continue to believe that what we as Jamaicans have to show in our music is of value to those who are on the outside looking in.”

RELATED CONTENT: Queen of the Pack: How Patra’s Influence Still Rules The Dancehall Scene

 


Tenille Clarke is an avid storyteller, seasoned publicist and cultural enthusiast from Trinidad and Tobago who often pens about her ongoing love affair with travel, entertainment and culture through a Caribbean lens. Follow her digital journey @tenilleclarke1 on Instagram and Twitter.

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