Jamaican singer/songwriter Koffee became a vital voice in reggae with astonishing speed—especially impressive in a genre whose roll call generally evolves at a pace in keeping with its easygoing rhythms. A disciple of roots revivalists Chronixx and Protoje, she's brought new perspectives to a male-dominated genre with her muscular yet agile voice and songs that powerfully balance the personal and political. Born Mikayla Simpson in 2000, Koffee grew up in Spanish Town, Jamaica, where she sang in the church choir and taught herself guitar. She was just 17 and studying to become a pharmacist when an acoustic song she wrote in tribute to Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt became an unexpected hit after he shared it online. “I took [music] seriously after a lot of people started tuning in,” Koffee told Apple Music. Working with producers like IzyBeats and Walshy Fire of Major Lazer, the Up Next alum exudes energy and confidence on the mic, ducking and weaving through complex rhyme schemes then landing on indelible hooks. Her tracks often balance vintage reggae textures with flourishes of contemporary dancehall, and, in the style of forebears like Bob Marley, she hits on tensions that feel timeless: On “Blazin,” she conjures the image of a “fyah full of love” as she calls for marginalized youth to support each other in the face of political corruption and neglect. The world sat up and took notice quickly, as her debut LP, 2019’s Rapture, set two records at the Grammys: At 19, she became both the youngest artist and the first woman to ever win Best Reggae Album.
HOMETOWNSpanish Town, Jamaica
BORNFebruary 6, 2000