Monday, 19 March 2012

LATTY J: The rising songbird talks gender bias in reggae, the joys of motherhood, and future plans

BRIGHT YOUNG THING: Latty J opens up about life after Rising Stars.

“I hope that ultimately I’ll be able to hold my ground in this industry and be a force to be reckoned with out there,” emphasizes Latoya 'Latty J' Jackson, the sassy songstress who took second-place last season on Rising Stars, after wowing judges and weekly audiences with her melismatic pipes and diva-in-training ’tude.

But in the same breath, the 24-year-old is quick to admit that while the talent show gave her a foot in the door, breaking into the mainstream is an ongoing battle. As she tells it, it’s terribly hard out there for young women in the industry.

Minutes after rocking the mic right at the Digicel 8.99 concert in Montego Bay on the weekend, the singer sat down with TALLAWAH to riff on her experiences as a new female in reggae, her five-year plan, motherhood, and her crazy fans.

TALLAWAH: Tell me about life post-Rising Stars. Are you enjoying the ride?
Latty J: Honestly, it’s been hard because you know that Digicel has left us now to make it on our own, even though we are under the contract for a year. But it’s still rough because you hardly find people who want to work with us as females. It’s harder for the females; I don’t know why. To me, [producers] want to work with the guys more, because the females get more pressured. As you notice, it’s Chris Martin and Romain and Noddy. But we hope to change that this year because we nah stop.

I’m glad that you didn’t sugercoat it. But what have you been doing to override such obstacles?
Well, I go to the studio like every week. I used to do some work with Vegas because he had offered to help out with a single. I have done a song called "Is This Love?," which was produced by Flexx from T.O.K on the Girls Night Out riddim. I’m hoping to work with Beres because I want to find someone who is willing to work with me musically, other than on a dancehall level.

As a new artist, what are you determined to bring to the industry?
I want to bring a different kind of flavour to reggae music, ’cause I’m a jazz singer. I’ve been on the North coast working in the hotels part-time, and I’ve learned a lot about jazz. But everybody tells me that I have more R&B in my style.

Do you have a five-year-plan?
Sure. I want to finish an album and publish it internationally because I don’t want it to be something that is played only in Jamaica. I want it to be out there, and people are hearing it, and I can travel and tour. Hopefully, I get to do some collabos with people like Mavado.

Outside the music world, how would you describe your life? I know you’re a mother.
This is my baby Malik; he is three [she proudly shows off her adorable son sitting on her lap]. He stays with his grandma for school because I’m mostly in Kingston back and forth, and then I’ll go for him like on weekends or holidays. But he will pick up the phone and call me anytime he wants (Laughs).

What’s singularly the best thing about being a mother?
Honestly, I don’t know how to describe it, but children bring joy. Regardless if they are rude or not. They just bring a joy. You just have to laugh. He cheers me up, so when I’m down I just call my son, and I know I’m gonna get a laugh at the end of the day.

That’s beautiful. So have you had any crazy fan encounters that you’d like to tell us about?
Yeah. I was walking in Half Way Tree the other day, and this man started to follow me. Him just keep following me and not saying anything. I went into a store to hide, and the store clerk ask me why I come into her store. (Laughs). That’s the craziest. I had to jump into a bus, and then I see him going away.

The crazies are everywhere. What does such an occurrence tell you about the nature of fame?
Sometimes you’ll want your privacy but can’t really get it because you’re a star. And you find out that sometimes when you go into a business place they’ll want to charge you more (Laughs). But that’s cool.

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