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Spice talks colourism, parenting and world domination


THE UNDISPUTED Queen of Dancehall is currently in the UK and ahead of headline performance at Notting Hill Carnival today at Red Bull’s stage, located at Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance Park, she sat down with BBC radio 1Xtra presenter Sian Anderson to talk

Here are some of the best bits from Red Bull’s A Conversation with Spice.

On colourism and her bleaching stunt
Images and videos of Spice with a dramatically lightened skin tone went global last year in. Little did fans and media outlets know at the time that the visuals, shared in the lead up to the release of her single Black Hypocrisy, were all part of her plan to highlight the impact of colourism.

“All my life colourism has affected me to this day it might have lessen now since the song but I remember two years ago you post a picture and the comment would be Lawd spice better bleach up her skin [Spice] have too much money to stay black,” she said.

“In Jamaica, they make you feel like if you don’t have that complexion that’s on the screen...if you stay as a dark skin woman they make you feel inferior.”

She added that when the picture came out some commenters said that now she was pretty. She said colourism had affected her more than racism.

Explaining why she took the stunt to the lengths she did, Spice said she wanted to get people’s undivided attention, for them to “see and stop”.

“That’s why I said I’m not only going to do the song but I’m also going to give them that visual that’s going to have you stop and say hol’ on and then dig deeper so you can hear my message.”

The concept involved her having three hours worth of makeup applied. The result was one that shocked the star herself so much so she even initially asked for the image to be darkened slightly. She even contacted immigration to make sure that she would be able to travel in the look looking so different to her passport picture.

“It was a whole strategy, it was very deep,” she said.

Reflecting on the experience, Spice said she believed the act had brought a change.

“Even in the song where I say, ‘Dem seh mi black til mi shine, til mi look dirty. And it's the only line in life that will ever hurt me’ because it never come from a Caucasian, trust mi Dis a black colourism big hypocrisy’ that line actually came from a girl in Jamaica that made a comment.

“She apologised, she felt so bad. She was like, that line in the song was my words, I said that.

“There was a lot of other people who were apologising to each other, apologising to people who they were offending because of their complexion.”

Closer to home, the song and video had a huge impact on one of Spice’s dancers who stopped bleaching her skin because of the singer’s poignant message.

On empowerment
Spice recently did a back to school giveaway in Jamaica where she organised for supplies for 500 kids to be donated to those in need but 2,000 children turned out. She made a public appeal for sponsors, namely Red Bull, to help her to make the giveaway bigger and better next year.

“There’s a need for more education in Jamaica. There’s mothers out there who can’t afford it,” she said.

Through her Grace Hamilton Women Empowerment Foundation she’s recently given a $30,000 funding to one young woman.

When it comes to her music, she’s all about inspiring confidence and encouraging women to feel good about themselves. “I represent for the people no matter their skin matter your size no matter the shape, colour when they hear the song they just want bruk out. That make me feel good because I know that I give the females that confidence...they feel good because that’s what I want the music to do.”

She also wants to continue to inspire other artists.

“I want to win a Grammy. I want to do what no other female from Jamaica has done before. Bob Marley did it for reggae. I want to do it for dancehall.”

On her relationship with Vybz Kartel
The pair first collaborated on Ramping Shop but Spice says they were friends before that. The dancehall duet is a hit but Spice revealed that she wasn’t too sure about it when she first heard the instrumental and Kartel vocals on the track as she was expecting a song with a much faster tempo, which reflected the style Kartel was known for at the time.

On being a mum
Asked if, as a mother, she worried about message she’s putting out, she replied without a hint of hesitation: “No man, a know what me a do.”

It may come as a surprise that while Spice is known around the world, thanks to her music and Love and Hip Hop, there’s someone very close to her who has no idea about her alter ego – her daughter.

In response to how she manages stardom and parenting, the mother-of-two revealed that when she’s at home, she dresses modestly, reverts to using her Christian name and even ditches her trademark blue hair.

“Spice is the one that does the adult entertainment, Grace Hamilton, however, is the mother that’s at home. My daughter don’t know Spice. I don’t introduce her to that world so she’s not allowed to listen to my music.

“I’m going to have a lot of questions to answer when she gets old but now she knows Grace Hamilton, who’s going to take off this blue wig, sport my natural hair at home or a wear a black wig, put on my long dress, speak to my daughter in proper English, teach her the right way. I’m going to grow her as the Grace that was there before Spice, the girl that used to go to church.”

On Love and Hip Hop
Speaking about how she became involved in the show, the singer said she fell in love with the cameras following her around when she appeared as a guest on the show when cast members came to Jamaica in season six.

She saw the show as an opportunity to introduce a new, wider audience to her, her brand and dancehall.

“A lot of people don’t know that Dancehall is huge but it’s not as big as you think it is. There’s still so much room for it to grow and expand.”

On future collaborations
Spice did not confirm or deny the truth in reports around a future track between her and US rapper Foxy Brown, choosing instead to say that there may be some truth in it and she sparked further rumours after name-dropping a couple of Caribbean-born stars with global status, including one whose new music is highly anticipated.

“There may be some truth to that, you never know, or maybe with Nicki Minaj or Rihanna.”

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