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Mikayla Simpson, better known as Koffee, is a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, rapper.

“Me? I’m just down to earth.” 18-year-old musician Mikayla “Koffee” Simpson may be small in stature and disarmingly unassuming but her modesty – and height – belies huge amounts of talent. The 5’0, self-described “sing-jay-guitarist” is one of the most exciting, forward thinking, globally focused teenage talents to emerge in 2018.

Born in Spanish Town, just outside of Kingston, Jamaica, Koffee was bought up alone by her hard working mother, her father having left for New York when Koffee was an infant. “Mummy struggled so I didn’t have to,” remembers Koffee. An occasional actress who works for the Ministry of Health and who gives sex education and body positivity talks to young people, Koffee’s mum sheltered her daughter from a lot of the violence that afflicted their community. “I was aware of curfews and shootings growing up but it wasn’t necessarily a reality for me because I didn’t experience anything directly,” she says. “I would hear about gunshots over in [neighbouring] Gordon Pen, but where I live, in Eltham View, it’s a mellow vibe. It’s a pretty friendly community, we know each other for the most part and we get along well.”

Mikayla Simpson, better known as Koffee, is a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, rapper.Koffee Makes History With Grammy Win, Signs With RCA

Mikayla Simpson, better known as Koffee, is a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, rapper.Jamaican Artist Koffee Youngest to Top Billboard’s Reggae Chart

Though she was able to avoid explicit scenes of bloodshed, the socio-political problems that permeate parts of Jamaica have seeped into her music, helping to make Koffee the artist she is today. “With a lot of my music, it’s about entertaining people while highlighting problems in order to try and find a solution. I genuinely want to make the world a better place.”

Koffee – who got her name after ordering a coffee on a boiling hot day while everyone else opted for soda – began her musical life as a child in the church choir. Here, she learnt melody and harmony; at the age of 12, she taught herself guitar after a friend lent her his spare one. She began writing lyrics in her bedroom after being inspired by the reggae singer Protoje – just a few lines here and there, initially, a chorus or a verse. In 2016, she accidentally auditioned for her school talent show – and won. “They had a show in the cafeteria one day and people were going up to perform poems and songs. My friends encouraged me to go up and perform so I did and the place loved it. I had no idea it was an audition until my name got called over the intercom.”

Mikayla Simpson, better known as Koffee, is a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, rapper.Koffee, the twenty-one -Year-Old Artist Modernizing Reggae

Describing herself as sitting somewhere between a singer, a rapper (known as a DJ in Jamaica) and a guitarist, Koffee’s current output has tended towards the more traditional Jamaican rhythms. But while reggae is on the agenda at the moment, Koffee intends to take in the many artists who have influenced her over the years, from Proteje and Supercat to St Louis rapper Smino and UK Rap star Giggs. “I learn a lot from flows – when I listen to music, that’s what I’m tuned into, that’s what I want to continue to experiment with. I can see myself doing bashment, dancehall, everything.” The possibilities are endless for this talented songwriter and singjay-er. “I’m not going to limit myself. I see myself doing many things in the future, I’m not going to narrow myself to one thing. I want to try it all.”

Indeed, there are no restrictions to this teenager’s talents. This isn’t someone making music for “likes” and money; success holds much more weight to Koffee than followers and brand deals, accolades and awards. “I want to bring positive change to the world because I think the world needs that more than just individual success,” she points out. “My personal success could be ten cars and a big house but that doesn’t influence many people other than myself and the people around me who that benefit from that. I want to be a positive movement and make a positive movement, at the same time. I want to bring vibes and positive change. I want to impact the world.”

Mikayla Simpson, better known as Koffee, is a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, rapper.

Mikayla Simpson, better known as Koffee, is a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, rapper.Koffee Performs In Bermuda | MARIA JACKSON MAGAZINE

Mikayla Simpson, better known as Koffee, is a Jamaican reggae singer, songwriter, rapper.Meet Koffee, first woman to ever win Grammy for Best Reggae Album – Face2Face Africa

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