Success should never be defined by one’s physical attributes; an adage that holds true to international dancehall star Tifa. Born Latifa Brown the Jamaican entertainer was diagnosed with blount disease during her infancy. Blount disease is a growth disorder of the tibia (shin bone) that causes the lower leg to angle inward, resembling a bowleg. Despite the challenges she faced, she has never allowed the medical condition to hinder her aspirations of a successful music career.
Hailing from the sun-drenched city of Kingston, Tifa grew up in the upscale neighborhood of Graham Heights. She later relocated to Duke Street considered one of the hot bed communities of Jamaica’s commercial district, where she resided with her grandmother following her parents’ separation.
Tifa’s interest in music developed from an early age, her stepfather was popular music producer Garfield “Sampalue” Phillips. However, it was the lessons learned at Ashe during her three-year stint in the performing arts that would help to shape her future success.
“My stepsiblings and me were all sent to school and college so that’s the direction he expected. But I used to watch him and the things he would do musically and the musicians that would come by the house”, said Tifa.
Fast-forwarding a few years Tifa released a joint effort titled “TNT – Three The Hard Way”, a cd compilation with then label mates Natalie Storm and Timber-Lee Heaven with production credits courtesy of famed New York music connoisseur DJ Max Glazer and The Federation Sound. The endearing project was dubbed the maddest mix CD ever. In 2008, she did an extensive tour of Europe with label mates and mentors Ward 21, attained much success, and became the first female Reggae/Dancehall artiste to perform in the Czech Republic. The year also saw her acquiring an endorsement deal from www.majesticwigs.com.
2009 was even better as it became Tifa’s breakthrough year bringing her most critically acclaimed piece of work, a hard-hitting dancehall single dubbed “Spell It Out” produced by Ward 21. Following an intense campaign, the song became a chart topping single and street anthem.
In early 2010, Tifa walked away with five awards including the E.M.E.’s (Excellence in Music & Entertainment) for the “Most Improved Artiste”. Stone Love awarded her “Best New Artist” and The Youth View Awards gave her the nod for two consecutive years as “Female Deejay of the Year,” “Best Female Artist” & “Young, Hot, & Hype Female of the Year.” With the year coming to a close, Tifa inked a deal making her a brand ambassador with the Caribbean’s #1 telecommunication giant Digicel. This allowed her brand to expand exponentially as she toured extensively via a surfeit of road shows, parties and corporate launches.
She continued on a high note with the release of a cover version of “If I Could Fly” to rave reviews along with the monster hit “Move Ur Body”. In the same year, she also landed a feature of the remix of U.S Rapper Ludacris’ “How Low” along with Ward 21 and Teff.
In April 2011 Tifa signed an endorsement deal with NUVO, the world’s first sparkling liqueur, as a Brand Diva. Dubbed the certified diva, the singjay delivered a commanding performance at that year’s staging of Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay, St. James. Since then she has maintained her endorsement with Digicel, while adding other brands such as Bigga Sof Drink and Stewart Motors Mini in the same capacity.
Her successful collaboration with popular dancehall artistes Wayne Marshall and Future Fambo, resulted in the 2011 summer hit single “Swaggin”, the infectious number captured the essence of summer and was even credited with changing both the lingo and fashion in dancehall culture during that period.
Following the success of “Swaggin”, which became her first No.1 single outside of Jamaica, peaking at No.1 on Britain’s BBC chart; the female dancehall artist was featured on the Matrimony Medley and her song “Wedding Chapel” went on to become No.1 on MTV Africa while “Swaggin” peaked at No.4.
Dominated the scene with songs like ‘Matie Wine’ on the Contra Riddim and ‘Dash Out ‘on the Over Proof Riddim. 2012 brought her future upward mobility. The year saw her collecting a number of awards for her 2011 efforts. 6 Youth View Awards including: “Local Female Artiste of the Year”, “Female DJ of the Year” “Young Hot & Hype of the Year” “Fashion Icon of the Year” “Best Collaboration” for Swaggin & “Best Video” for Swaggin. She also won Female DJ of the Year for the Jamaica Star’s People Choice Awards & Hitz 92fm.
That same year saw Tifa releasing a number of singles including the number one MTV Base Africa hit ‘Hold On’, ‘Why Yuh Mad’ featuring Spice, Love Me 2 featuring Laza Morgan, Wife Me Up, Destiny featuring Konshens, and Niceness. She also collaborated with European group the Teddy Bears.
Tifa continued the momentum into 2013 copping awards at the Youth View Awards and the Star Awards. That year, songs including ‘Show Me’ ‘The Bubble, ‘No Romance without Finance’, Taste Good and Champion Bubbler saturated the airwaves.
In 2014, Tifa released ‘Body Up’ and the club banger ‘Bak It Up’. She also won three awards in the 2014 Youth View Awards (YVA’s) including Young Hot & Hype Female Artiste of the Year added to performances at the 2014 Best of the Best concert in Miami, the Oracabessa Festival in New York, Reggae Sumfest and the Crab Festival in Montego Bay along with some overseas assignments.
In early July 2014, Tifa released her Ben Marc directed ‘Bak It Up’ music video which was subsequently featured on the U.S based MTV website and Revolt.
In an effort to expand her brand and celebrity status, dancehall artiste Tifa ventured into merchandising with the release of her signature headphone line. The project was a partnership with Sound is Genious (SIG) and is called the ‘Tifa SIG’ line.
In July of 2014, popular urban website Globalgrind.com, owned by American business magnate Russell Simmons, did an extensive feature on the Jamaican star where she spoke about music, living with Blount’s disease and her career. Additionally, she was featured on the cover of the July 2014 issue of Caribbean urban publication L3 Magazine.
Tifa has made major strides in her evolving music career. She signed with the North America based independent Island Kings Records. The collaboration with the label bore fruit with the hit single “Bak it Up” which got mainstream play in the U.S. The song peaked inside the Top 20 of the Billboard Twitter Trending 140 Chart in late 2014. Also in 2014, she scored a Top 5 hit with “I’ve Got Money”, produced by Arif Cooper.
In February 2015, Tifa walked away a double winner at the 2015 Youth View Awards (YVAs). She won for Young Hot & Hype Female; and Fashion Icon Female.
Her single “Jealous Ova”, released in early 2015 featuring Daseca Productions recording artiste Dexta Daps, entered several charts including Ernie B’s Top 20 Reggae Chart in the UK (Capital Extra); and the Richie B Top 25 Dancehall chart in Jamaica. In late 2015, she released her critically acclaimed “STAY AWAY” Mixtape amassing great reviews across the local and international space from noted industry players such as Fader Magazine, Complex Magazine, Boomshots, MTV among several others.
Some of her most noteworthy career highlights spanning 2014 and 2016 encompass the inclusion of her Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor produced single “Body Up”, featured in season 2 (July 11 episode) of the Netflix exclusive “Hemlock Grove”. Tifa was interviewed by Laura Stylez and Ebro Darden on New York’s premiere radio outlet WQHT Hot 97; named among the Top Ten Reggae/Dancehall Greatest Female Deejays by international media outlet Largeup.com; touted as one of the 25 artists in the world to watch by the internationally acclaimed Fader Magazine amid nabbing the awards for Best Collaboration of the Year – “Jealous Ova” feat. Dexta Daps, at the 2016 installments of the Youth View Awards and New York based Irie Jam Awards. Her plethora of accolades came to a crescendo recently with a scintillating performance alongside 2016 Grammy Award winner Morgan Heritage in New York City.
2016 has also seen the release of several new singles namely “Big Bumper” (Moskato Riddim produced by Christopher Birch), “The Champ” (The Champ Riddim produced ZJ Chrome) “Belleh Remix” (featuring Sanjay, Shelly Belly & Demarco), “Bout this Love” and “Dreaming” (SHS Riddim), all of which continues to enjoy premium rotation across the diaspora.
Courtesy of Latifa Brown