Lila Iké’s song, “Biggest Fan” is a rarity for me among female Reggae artistes. In my experience “mama songs” are usually reserved for males– Gyptian’s, “Ma Ma” and Sizzla’s, “Thank You Mama” pop up to me easily– not because females love their mothers less than males do but because Jamaican parents are usually harder and are generally more influential on their sons than on their daughters. So when Lila’s debut single gave a female perspective on a personal struggle, her career path, it was not only different from Gyptian’s and Sizzla’s song for that reason, it was also refreshing and more intimate to me.
The song has propelled her to go on tour with Protojé in 2017, who currently signs Lila under his In.Digg.Nation Collective label. I asked her what sort of emotions performing for a different crowd every time evokes. I wondered how scary it was. Lila said, “Performing on tour does evoke a lot of emotions. I am excited because I get to finally do what I have always dreamt of doing. Performing in a different space is also exciting and scary because I don’t know what to expect.” And I feel like that is the benefit of being a new artiste. There is freedom to surprise the audience, no one really knows what your presence is suppose to feel like as yet and maybe this why she said of performing, “I usually have no expectations and so I challenge myself to please every set of audience both at home and away… [I want] to bring good vibes always and provide music that is universally accepted and in the same breath make my mom proud that I am actually doing what I wanted to do something that she was scared of.”
And listening to, “Biggest Fan” you understand her mother’s fear. Being in the music industry is often seen as harsh and unforgiving especially for females. In one line Lila sings of her mother’s fear of sexual favours, “You feel like no producer bwoy can carry go a studio and lock up.”
I think Ms. Iké is half way there though because her curly afro and John Lennon specs has given her a signature style, which she explained was somehow born out of comfort.“The glasses are tested (I’m farsighted lol) but I chose to get the frames in that style because I don’t like the regular frames. My hair is just easier to handle in an afro so I normally wear it like that; I guess overtime it has become a signature but my style is really not limited at all. I style according to my mood really.”
But even with eye catching image for younger audiences popular music nowadays is almost completely reserved for dancehall. Once in awhile you will hear one or two Reggae songs being dropped in a prime time segment at a party– most recently there is Agent Sasco’s, “Winning Right Now” and Dre Island’s “We Pray” featuring Popcaan –but the crowds don’t come to the parties for Reggae and Lila sees this. Getting exposure is hard, especially for females.
“I feel exposure is hard to gain for females in the music business and because of this females usually feel that its easier to “buss” quicker in Dancehall rather than Reggae music.” And maybe it is, but for the music Lila produces thankfully there is a new wave of young Reggae artistes. Chronixx & Protojé lead the charge, reinvigorating young people, and Lila is prepared to ride the wave while still understanding that, “One of the major challenges is making a career out of it [Reggae music]– in and out of Jamaica. I got the opportunity to perform for yaad and abroad and see where it is very well received and is in demand so this has inspired me and I’ve become more driven to conquer the odds.”
It is this perseverance that in a twist, has made her mom come around, and has given Lila inspiration for her first major single (her second single, “Gotti Gotti” was released five months after her first). It is a twist that she really appreciates. “What surprises me most is because I believed in my music for myself, I got to see my mother turned a listen ear. Not only that, she has been encouraging me since and this all happened in a short period.” Her Mom is one of her biggest motivators and that is the winning formula for the perfect “mama song” I have realized: appreciation + love = mother heroines. “Ma Ma,” had it, “Thank You Mama” had it, and now “Biggest Fan” has it and if you don’t believe me while on stage Lila confesses, “While performing sometimes (lol) I usually mute the crowd and imagine my mom is the only one sitting in the audience. At that point I feel so proud of myself and my brand which I’m creating.” — Bless.
[cover image by: Nickii Kane]