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IRIE Fest Special

Queen Ifrica
The "Fyah Muma"

By Lauren Speers

If you've been paying any attention to roots reggae in the last three years, then you've probably heard of Queen Ifrica. She made headlines with her song "Daddy", an uncomfortable plaintive anthem condemning paternal child abuse this year, and last year she cloaked the issue domestic violence in sweetness and natural human urges with her runaway chart-topper "Below the Waist." It takes an unusual balance to succeed in both the righteous, high-minded forum of modern "culture" reggae and also in the toughness of the dancehall, but Queen Ifrica might well be the first women to achieve that in an enduring context with the sheer force of her delivery, lyrics and positive messages.

Her bio is impressive, the daughter of ska Derrick Morgan was quickly inducted into reggae superstar Tony Rebel's Flames Productions crew after a surprise vistory at a talent show in Jamaica. After a few short years in production and development, demos of her debut album dropped last year to massive critical acclaim. How could it not? As well as the aformentioned "Below the Waist," the album contained many other hit singles, complete with tropical relevance like "Randy," aimed at the world of gunmen. Ifrica, along with Luciano and Tony Rebel are strident peace activists. "Boxers and Stocking" and its alternative cut "No Love Again" also condemn violence corruption and extol keeping faith in the Most High to rise up above circumtance. Queen Ifrica speaks eloquently in an educational sense about other issues; like Rasta, on "Natty Fi Grow," she speaks of poverty in "Zinc Fence" and takes an universalits stance in "Genocide." Her lyrical upliftment is always credible, and though she takes on tough topics, her joy with Jah's bounty and guidance is constantly positive and unswerving.

Many of Queen Ifrica's songs take a personal tone rather than a global, broad and dogmatic tone in her message music, which may have something to do with how she can be so righteous without heing preachy to the extreme and putting people off. Sometimes social consciousness does not sit will with consumers; instead Queen Ifrica's activism is lauded and appreciated by an ever-growing fan base. She and Tony Rebel make time regularly to visit high schools in Jamaica, and she is well known for participatin g in community outreach programs expecially in Kingston 13, knnow as the S corner neighborhood.

Queen Ifrica is certainly worth of her aegis, "the Fyah Muma." Her music, words and performances are constantly described with fiery words like "blazing," "scorching" and "incendiary," because she regularly brings the fire to both the stage and the international reggae music community. What makes her so special is that her fire is balanced by a wisdom and humility, unusual in a relatively young artist.
She so seamlessly embodies many powerful personas: a roots reggae revolutionary; a teacher; a lover, an earth mother and a dancehall firecracker with a voice stronger than most men's. She's also a person with a 10,000 mega-watt smile, an infectious laugh and obviously well-developed sense of humour that you would be thrilled to find yourself sitting next to on a long plane ride. However, if you've ever heard an interview with Queen Ifrica, it is immediately apparent that she doesn't suffer fools lightly, any media using their soapbox/forum for any platform other then positivity, upliftment and education gets short shrift and swift criticism.

One of her newer singles, "Keep It To Yourself" (on the blazing new Secrets riddim from Don Corleon) talks of "the concerns" in Jamaica; badmen, slackness and the glorification of wrongdoing are all addressed and renounced. The beauitful part of the Fyah Muma's message is that her music is relevant to her listeners the world over, even when it is "contextualized' in Jamaica. The refrain of "Keep It To Yourself" is a haunting reminder to all: "You've got to make it better, the children are out future." This is a recurrent theme in Queen Ifrica's music and seemingly in her life; as she's said herself, there are enough soldiers of negativity out there - it's been her chosen way to be a soldier of good. There is remarkable counterculture at work in the music of Queen Ifrica (and some of her colleagues, notably Luciano, Tony Rebel, Etana and Taurus Riley,) and that is "conscious" reggae music with a twist, the singer may be speaking directly to your situation and how it is difficult, but you should praise Jah along the way, try to make the world a better place and learn something while you dance.

Queen Ifrica performs live at Jamaica Day in Keelesdale Park on Sunday, July 27th.

For more information and to hear Queen Ifrica's music, check out www.myspaces.com/queenifrica

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