Jamaican singer Latifa Brown, better known as Tifa, overcame the odds and became a dancehall star, as well as a spokesperson and fashion icon. Her songs range from hip-hop-influenced club burners to sensuous ballads, and she's not afraid to explore taboo subjects with her raw, sexual lyrics. After first breaking through with her 2008 hit "Bottom of the Barrel," she began touring the world and won several awards. Subsequent hits included 2009's "Spell It Out" and 2015's "Jealous Ova."
Born in 1983, Latifa Brown was active in choir and dance clubs as a child. Her grandmother owned a bar and restaurant where she was able to hear music and dance, and her stepfather, Sampalue, was a notable dancehall producer who helped launch the career of dancehall queen Lady Saw. Brown suffered from Blount's Disease, a rare disability which affected her legs, and spent her first year of high school in a wheelchair, requiring three surgeries before she was fully able to walk again. She then became an active member of the school's dance club, as well as other extracurricular activities, such as hockey. She ended up turning down an international scholarship in order to study at the University of the West Indies, where she majored in psychology.
Brown first began concentrating on her musical career in 2005. She recorded for her stepfather's label, Diamond Rush Records, and sang backup vocals for a brief while. During the second half of the decade, she recorded songs with producers such as Ward 21 and Equiknoxx. Singles such as "Kitty Police" and "Crawny Girl" made waves, but 2008's "Bottom of the Barrel" launched her to stardom in Jamaica. She then toured Europe with Ward 21, and was the first female dancehall artist to perform in the Czech Republic. She also teamed up with Natalie Storm and Timberlee as the trio TNT and released a mix CD called 3 the Hard Way.
Another hit produced by Ward 21, "Spell It Out," appeared in 2009. Tifa was awarded accolades by the Excellence in Music & Entertainment Awards and the Youth View Awards. She continued touring across the Caribbean and North America. She appeared on a 2010 remix of Ludacris' "How Low," and released a well-received cover of Junior Tucker's "If I Could Fly." She also signed an endorsement deal with mobile phone network provider Digicel, becoming the company's brand ambassador, appearing on billboards and advertisements all over the island. She continued releasing a steady stream of singles, including 2015's "Jealous Ova" (a duet with Dexta Daps), and mixtape Stay Away appeared the same year. 2018 singles "Buss a Shine" and "JA Party" preceded her long-anticipated debut album.
BORNDecember 12, 1983