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Aww Here It Goes: Kenan & Kel Look Back On Their Hit Show 20 Years Later

VIBE talks with the two co-stars about their best memories from the 90s show. 

Before the term was ever pegged, Kenan Rockmore and Kel Kimble were all of our "squad goals." From their slap-stick humor in opening scenes before the curtain called, to the back and forth banter between bros, the Kenan & Kel show introduced a best friendship that would keep 90s kids rolling well into adulthood.

Believe it or not, it's been 20 years to the day since Kenan & Kel premiered on Nickelodeon on August 17, 1996. And although reruns of the hit sitcom can be caught after midnight (if you're lucky) on 90s Are All That (turned The Splat), millennials are still reciting lines from the show and professing their love for orange soda.

Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell, the show's dynamic duo had frequently been paired together on the popular Nickelodeon skit, All That, before being cast as the wise-cracking, Chicago teenagers who always managed to get in trouble for their mischievous schemes. But the self-titled show took their bromance and improvisation to another level. Kenan, the mastermind and brains of many operations always left us on a cliffhanger, wondering why he needed miscellaneous objects like a screwdriver or a can of tuna. Meanwhile, his fun-loving and ditzy companion, Kel, had the punch line and a bottle of his favorite bubbly drink on deck.

Looking back on two decades and four seasons of Kenan & Kel, it still creates all those great feelings of nostalgia. The best friends have parted ways since the show's end in July 2000, but they still look back on their time together with the same fondness as the generation they inspired. In celebration of Kenan & Kel's 20th anniversary, VIBE caught up with the co-stars to hear about their favorite memories and fun facts.

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VIBE: How did you guys find out about getting the show at the time? 

Kenan: Bryan and Dan approached me and Kel and pulled us aside, and they asked us how we would feel about having our own show. We looked at each other like, ‘Man, stop playing. Of course it would be the best thing ever.’ I think it was a two-minute type of a meeting. We were going to try and shoot a pilot during our Christmas, holiday break, and that’s exactly what we did. Then they picked the show up, and it started right after the All That season.

Kel: We would always hang out and crack jokes in between scenes on All That. The writers saw that and wanted to put together a Kenan & Kel spinoff show. Kim Bass, who also created Sister Sister, Brian Robbins, Mike Tollin, and Dan Snyder and all of those great guys who took a hand in making All That amazing, worked on Kenan and Kel. I remember they took us to the side close to the last week on All That, and they said, ‘Hey, how do you guys feel about starring in your own show? It’s going to be a sitcom like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin.’ I was like, 'Oh man, that’s awesome.' Kenan and I were so excited. We shot the pilot episode. And it was cool because it was really different than All That. All That was a sketch show, many crazy characters. And this was more real, but it still had the same hilarity.

Did you know the show was going to be so well received?

Kenan: It was all a shock. We were so happy just to be doing this, and then the fact that people caught on to it, was just an awesome thing. We were blown away from the fact that All That had TLC, Aaliyah, Usher, and all these people coming through. We didn’t know our show was overly popular; we just thought we were part of a cool thing that was happening at Nickelodeon. But we wanted people to love it because we would go to the mall and stand around and see if anybody noticed us. And they didn’t, not for a while at least. But now, it’s more of a nostalgia thing. I’m glad that people love the show. It was our blood, sweat, and tears. It’s as much a part of my childhood as anybody else’s.

Kel: It’s really been a blessing. It says a lot to all the writers and the producers, and Nickelodeon because it still holds up.

The theme song with Coolio is still remembered as one of the best theme songs along with Sister Sister and The Proud Family. How did that come about?

Kenan: Coolio had been on All That before. He was already down with the production family. So I guess they turned to him and asked him if he would do it and he did it! It was like Christmas Eve for us, hanging out at Universal Studios with Coolio. It was awesome.

Kel: When we did the theme song, the day we shot it at Universal Studios City Walk in LA, Coolio got on the radio station on Big Boy’s Neighborhood!, and was like, 'Yeah, we’re doing this theme song for Kenan & Kel. Everybody come down.’ And all of LA was at City Walk that day. That place was super packed. That was a huge moment.

The show is pretty ‘iconic’ for 90s kids and even younger generations that didn’t get a chance to watch 90s Nick went it was airing. Why do you think the show was able to last beyond its time?

Kenan: It was the genuine friendship that we had. It’s the same way when I watched Friends now. I look back at Friends, and it’s like they look so comfortable and so natural with each other. It was like they were destined to do that show. And it was so natural for us. It didn’t seem like we were trying or making an effort to be there and do it. It was a pleasure to work on the show. I think that’s what really comes across the screen of how much fun we had together. When I watch the episodes I barely remember that hair cut, but I remember how silly we were when we’re going back and forth with each other. There were good times.

Kel: Kenan & Kel reminds me of I Love Lucy. You could turn on I Love Lucy right now and those stories were years ago, but they still hold up; they’re still funny. Like the orange soda thing, I didn’t know that it would blow up like it did. Dan wrote it, and it just said ‘Who loves orange soda? I do, I do,' but they allowed us to ad-lib and improv. So I threw a little sing-songy on it, and it just took off. I think right there we saw the magic of the show. The stories that we had, the friendship of Kenan and Kel, it was just a fun story. If I’m flipping channels and see it, I have to stop and watch it and laugh.

What are some of your greatest memories on or off screen during the show?

Kenan: It’s a mixture. There’s obviously work memories where we are laughing so hard that we can’t get through certain takes. We were just having fun. Kel would make me laugh and then I would try to make him laugh. And that’s how we would spend the day. Also, outside of work, hanging out in the same apartment complex, at nights doing laundry, walking back, throwing up because of the smell of the sprinklers and memories like that. I smelled those sprinklers [outside of the set] and puked in front of everybody, and all Kel did was laugh at me. It was amazing.

Kel: There are so many great episodes. A lot of our episodes were directed by child stars who were adult at that time – Kim Fields, Freeman, Malcolm-Jamal Warner. So that was cool for us as well. I remember we had a ton of great celebrity guests that would come on to the show. One of my favorite episodes is where I got to rap on the show. I rapped about orange soda, but that was pretty cool. But there were so many memorable moments. One of the most memorable moments was in the pilot when Kenan and I were excited about him getting a new car because he just got his driver’s license. We were sitting there on the couch trying to imagine what would happen with us in this new car. It was just this crazy moment of us hitting the horn, talking to girls, rolling down the window. Every time we shot it, it was different every time because we were just improving and ad-libbing. The thanksgiving episodes were pretty fun. I got to run around with a turkey because my hand got stuck in the turkey.

Is there something that people actually don’t know about the show or your characters?

Kenan: We never had any characters go missing. No one went up stairs and never came back. But I don’t know if people really know, when you shoot a TV show like you’re really family and it really works, it’s because it seems real to everybody, even to us. We were all so very close. I don’t think people really know how much we enjoyed doing it as much as people enjoyed watching it. Kel and I will be brothers for life. I’m so glad to have gone on that journey with him. I can’t believe 20 years have gone by; it’s been a flash.

Kel: The name. Everyone goes crazy about the name, like, 'How did they come up with Kenan and Kel?' And I remember it was a dinner that we had. They didn’t have a name at all. It was this huge list of all these crazy names like: Two Friends, Me and My Homie. It was just a whole bunch of names and Kenan and I are sitting there like, ‘I don’t know.’ Everyone had to put in the hat which one they liked, and I can’t remember who it was, but someone got up and was like, ‘Just name it after them.’ And that’s how it happened. There were talks at that time of a Kenan & Kel Goes to College. We were going to do that at another station as part of Viacom, but that didn’t pan out. We probably would have just kept going: Kenan and Kel get jobs, grown up.

What lines do people frequently quote around you?

Kenan: It’s always orange soda. 'Who loves orange soda?' 'Where the orange soda at?' 'Soda man, orange drink guy.' Then I’m like that’s Kel’s thing; that’s not really my thing. And they’re like, ‘Well, yeah, but you was on it, too.’

Kel: 'Aww, here it goes' is big. People want me to say [it] with them. Some people come up to me with requests like Kenan used to do at the end of the show. They’ll be like, ‘Hey, Kel, go grab me this…’ And then I have to say, ‘Aww, here it goes.’ They'd wait for me to say it if I didn’t. Another one is, 'I put the screw in the tuna,' which is also one of my favorite episodes. And of course, 'orange soda' is number one.

Do you remember the moment you taped the last episode of the series?

Kenan: It happened weirdly. It was kind of still up in the air whether it was going to be the end or not. Then we did a three-part episode that was supposed to be a movie, but they just played it as an episode. And that was it. I kind of knew it was over, but we were just celebrating the end of the season as usual, and then contracts were up and we decided to move on. It was very surreal and scary. It wasn’t like I said goodbye and went right into a new job. It was our first experience of being an adult actor for hire.

Kel: It was emotional because we’d been working together for so long. But then for Kenan and I, we were still doing All That. We knew we would still see each other, but for parting with the rest of our cast, it was a chapter that was closed. We still stay in contact with everybody which is cool. I just saw Ken Foree, who played Kenan’s dad the other day.

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Don Cheadle On The Good Insanity Of 'Black Monday' And Battling Twitter Trolls

Don Cheadle isn’t insane; he just acts like he is, really well, on Showtime’s Black Monday. On the Wall Street dramedy about the 1987 stock market collapse, Cheadle has made fun of the AIDS epidemic and snorted cocaine off of a video game accessory as Maurice “Mo” Monroe, star trader on the show. As offensive as Mo is, Cheadle joined the cast after he “read the pilot, it made me laugh and I thought it was insane...in a good way,” according to the actor speaking with VIBE.

The 54-year-old Grammy-nominated director wasn’t rocking the Jheri curl and polyester threads like his character does in the show when the actual 1987 stock market crash occurred. At that time, he was a broke, struggling actor who admittedly could fit all of his worldly possessions in his car. Black Monday lets Cheadle experience the cocaine binges, robot butlers, and Jheri curl juice he never had in his past. But, fake or not, Cheadle doesn’t want to be on camera saying all of the absurdities Black Monday creators Jordan Cahan and David Caspe think up.

“Jordan and David are always pushing it and it's often up to us to say, 'Yeah, that's a bit too far. If you're going to say the line on camera, that's fine. I'm not going to say that on camera' (Laughs).”

With VIBE, Cheadle recasts Black Monday’s lead roles with rappers, talks smuggling blackness into a show about Wall Street, and why he doesn’t back down from Twitter exchanges with trolls.

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VIBE: What are some things you share with your character Mo?

Don Cheadle: That's a good question. I don't know. I know I'm nowhere near as intense as he is. I'm not as ambitious at all costs as he is. My sense of humor can kind of be on that level. But, never in public. You know how you could go in with your friends and be like, 'Please don't ever tape this' (Laughs).

One of the characteristics you two share is being confrontational. Do you ever worry that your personal opinions on Twitter could affect TV ratings?

Naaaahhhh. I've never had anybody of any position come to me and say, “You're really risking something and you got to knock that off.” No employer has ever said anything to me. There's a lot of bots on there, for one. A lot of people -- presumably people -- that come at me and say stuff like, “You just lost a fan.” I’m just like, “You were never a fan. Let's be real.”

On the show, Mo and Regina Hall’s character, Dawn, are the only prominent Black characters, yet their blackness has yet to be the focal point of an episode since the series’ premiere. Was that intentional and will the show explore blackness in the ‘80s?

It comes up in the second episode when they're in the store. Mo is telling her, “Those white boys will f**k you, they'll date you, but they won't give you a spot.” We want to pepper that stuff in, kind of smuggle it in and not lead with it. That's not something the characters talk about every day. They know who they are, they know what they're dealing with, and it comes in and out of the show. It's not the focal point of the show, which I like. They are black and it is front and center, but it isn't the subject matter.

The second episode has the classic back and forth negotiation scene between you and Dawn. Were there ever scenes where you and Regina couldn't get through it because y'all kept making each other laugh?

We would crack each other up a lot. Both of our desire was to always get it on camera, so we never really lost it during a shot. Maybe once or twice. But, most of the time we would get the take and then we would crack up. I'd always be like, “When you said this line.” She would be like, “When you said this.” We kind of improv a lot on the show and some stuff gets in there. When she said, “Who wants to titty f**k Keith” [in the series premiere], Regina just improv’d that.

So it was all Regina Hall's idea to mount Paul Scheer and thrust in the air as if she was titty f**king him?

Yes, that was her (Laughs).

The third episode starts with the most ‘80s scene we'll probably see on television this year: you snorting coke off of a Nintendo Duck Hunt gun while talking about Michael Jackson and Brooke Shields dating.

(Laughs) Yeah.

Are those moments intentionally put into the show to show that Black Monday is set in the ‘80s?

I think, absolutely, we're trying to juxtapose that time period to now and see the things that remain and the things that change, and see how far we've come in some instances and how far we still have to go. Absolutely, all of that cultural stuff is very fun to play with. We always want to make it a part of the show. We don't want to full out do something that has no bearing on anything just to make fun of the ‘80s.

The music for the show has been great. Knowing what you know about Mo and the ‘80s, what would be his morning playlist before a day of kicking a** on Wall Street?

Oh, he would definitely listen to Run-DMC. I think he's into all of that early hip-hop with [Big Daddy] Kane and LL Cool J. He's deep into that. He probably also listens to some of the stuff that was coming out of Europe at that time. Stuff like the Eurythmics, Annie Lennox, a lot of that stuff. UB40 (Laughs). At one point in the show, he's like, “Don Henley's coming to play. I don't really f**k with his music, but he's number one, so I'm listening to it.” He likes what's popular.

You once said you wanted to cast Kendrick Lamar for the role of Junior in the film Miles Ahead.

Yes.

If you had to cast the roles for Dawn, Mo, Blair, and Keith with rappers, who would they be?

Oh, wow. Who would Dawn be? I think Dawn might be Queen Latifah. I like Dawn as Queen Latifah. I don't think Keith and Blair would be any rappers (laughs). I can't think of any rappers Keith and Blair would be. Not that there aren't some. I mean, they might be 3rd Bass. Who would Mo be? That's a good question. Who do you think Mo would be?

Mo is so out there I was thinking…

Ol’ Dirty Bastard?

Or a really animated Leaders of the New School Busta Rhymes.

Yeah. Definitely, a young Busta Rhymes. Kool G Rap also.

If they're going to be doing as much cocaine as Mo does on the show then it has to be someone from Wu-Tang.

(Laughs) It has to be O.D.B.

I did a little bit of IMDB digging and saw that Kevin Arnold is listed as your stunt double for 5 episodes of the second half of the season. Is Mo about to get crazier in the second half of the season?

No comment (Laughs). Things get crazy.

With a show titled after and centered around an event that it appears will be reached by the season finale, is there any way this show could come back for a second season?

Fingers crossed. I think the jumpoff is Black Monday, and the show is still going to still be about the stock market, Wall Street. That one day was just what started a lot of stuff. Things kept going on from then and are still going on.

Catch 'Black Monday' on Sunday nights at 10p/9c on Showtime.

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Stacy-Ann Ellis

Meet Koffee, The Rising Jamaican Star Who Is Hot Like A Thermos

Back in 1962, a 17-year-old Jamaican singer/songwriter named Robert Marley recorded a song called “One Cup of Coffee” and went on to take reggae music around the world. Fast forward 55 years to 2017, when a 17-year-old Jamaican singer/songwriter named Koffee dropped her first record, “Burning,” setting her on a path to become the most talked-about new artist in dancehall reggae right now.

Koffee got her big break when veteran singer Cocoa Tea invited her onstage at the January 2018 edition of Rebel Salute, Jamaica’s biggest roots reggae festival. “She name Koffee and me name Tea,” he quipped, calling her the “next female sensation out of Jamaica.” The artist born Mikayla Simpson doesn’t actually like coffee though—she prefers hot chocolate.

After graduating from Ardenne High, the same school dancehall star Alkaline attended, Koffee turned her focus to music. She shot a live video with new roots superstar Chronixx at Marley’s Tuff Gong Studios, then dropped her breakout single “Toast,” produced by Walshy Fire of Major Lazer fame. That video has racked up 10 million+ views and made the artist, who stands just over five feet tall, a very big name on the island. Now signed to Columbia UK, Koffee will release her debut EP Rapture next month.

“Mi only spit lyrics, don't really talk a lot,” she states on the track “Raggamuffin.” But when Koffee turned up to VIBE’s Times Square headquarters, bundled up against NYC’s February chill in a hoodie, thermals, and Nike x Off-White sneakers, she opened up about her musical journey, the power of gratitude, her surprising inspirations, and how she plans to spend her birthday.

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VIBE: I haven’t seen you since your EP listening in Kingston. Congratulations on an impressive body of work. Koffee: Thank you. I feel humble and proud at the same time. I really put a lot of thought into the EP, the way I structured it, and the content, the lyrics. It really means a lot to me, so I appreciate you saying that.

It’s amazing how much you’ve accomplished since Cocoa Tea brought you out on Rebel Salute. Yeah, and that was only a year and a month ago!

So how did the link with Cocoa happen? Actually, it happened through Walshy Fire. After my very first single “Burning,” Walshy reached out and sent me some riddims, in hopes of us working together, which we ended up doing. We were supposed to meet up at a studio in Florida and when we went there Cocoa Tea was already in the building. We were like, “Wow, Cocoa Tea!” Because Cocoa Tea is a reggae legend for us in Jamaica. Walshy actually introduced Cocoa to some of my music, and Cocoa was like, “Wha? Mi gonna bring her out on Rebel Salute next month!” This was in December, and Rebel Salute was in January.

Timing is everything. Rebel Salute made a huge difference. It opened me up to a lot of opportunities. Even today a lot of places that I go, people remember me from there. I was doing music before. I’d done a few shows here and there, but the audience at Rebel Salute is very important. It’s an epic stage to present yourself.

Were you nervous? Just before going out on the stage I was backstage pacing back and forth. I was trying to keep warm as well because it was chilly that night. But I was really nervous because it was my first time being in such a light.

Do you think being so young has helped you? Like, you may not overthink everything. I think you have a point. Because I’m young, my mind is a bit more pure, or uncorrupted. Experiences do have a way of taking away your mental space and the things you’re willing to try. Staying in “the comfort zone” is the most comfortable thing, but sometimes pushing yourself to step outside of that will help you overcome your fears. That, and just the drive and motivation. I definitely try to keep challenging myself.

Reggae has always been a male-dominated industry, but female artists are definitely on the rise. How do feel getting catapulted into that category? I feel like it’s a big responsibility, and “to whom much is given, much is expected.” So I don't look at it as, “Oh, I’ve made it.” But I acknowledge that I’m in a position where I have a responsibility now to fulfill and to pull through. It just pushes me to work harder, make more things happen, and just keep it going.

I love the line in your song “Raggamuffin” where you say, “Mi give them heart attack inna mi halter back.” Was that inspired by Althea & Donna’s “Uptown Top Rankin’” from the ‘70s? Yeah, I love that song. That’s the thing, I would say that every artist is an influence to me. Growing up, I would hear these songs being played by people next door, down the road, all around. Just in the Jamaican environment on a whole. So those songs definitely do have an influence on me, the messages from those times. Once you hear it, it’s in your head. You know it now and it really makes a difference in how you think, how you speak, and everything.

When people think of a female dancehall artist they usually think of colorful hair, long nails… But you seem to have your own swag. How would you describe your style? I would definitely say unique, but at the same time, it is natural to me and not calculated. I don't put a name to it and say, “I’m gonna be this way.” I just kind of flow and whatever you see is me doing what I feel. Like, I’m not sure what these pants are, but I bought them in Berlin. I got this hoodie in the UK—I’m not sure what brand this is either. I was just trying to keep warm. My friend Ayesha from the UK styled me with this top recently for a shoot.

There’s a line on “Burning” where you talk about “Koffee pon di street, tank top inna di heat / Jeans pants an’ Crocs / No socks pon mi feet / Knapsack mi a beat / Well pack up an’ it neat.” Was that your real-life dress code in 2017? Yeah, I remember at that time that’s how I used to roll. You know in Jamaica it’s hot, so I probably had my tank top and my jeans on, or my shorts. And I had this one pair of grey Crocs that I just wore everywhere. And I always have my knapsack. So yeah, that was my reality at that moment.

How far away does that feel, now that you have a stylist and travel the world? That’s amazing. It’s a transition that’s really beautiful and something I really appreciate.

I have a feeling you’re going to re-introduce words like “appreciate” and “give thanks” into pop culture. I hope to start a wave of gratitude. Even by writing that song “Toast,” when I say “We haffi give thanks like we really supposed to,” it reminds me to be grateful. I aspire to be humble and I pray and ask God to help me be grateful. I try to maintain it and I hope that will inspire other people to do the same.

Let’s talk about “Toast.” On the chorus, you say “We nah rise and boast.” But then again, a lot of reggae and dancehall artists are very “boasy.” That’s part of the culture. When I say “Wi nah rise and boast” it means that no matter what happens along the journey, we’re still gonna remain the same. We gonna big up we friend and hold a vibes. I’m just making it clear that we never come fe hype.

You can spit pretty fast, but I feel like some people may be missing some of the things you say. But if you listen carefully you’re talking about real things. Thank you for noticing that. When I wrote “Raggamuffin,” a lot of my musical influence came from artists like Protoje and Chronixx. Chronixx has basically been an advocate for the youths, so his message had an impact on me. When I was vibing to the beat, I wanted to cover myself, cover my country where I come from, good things and bad things, and the music, reggae itself.

Growing up, did you see inner city kids not being looked after by their own government and their own people? Most definitely. I wouldn't say that the government is responsible for the lives of everybody as citizens. But there are some general things that need the government’s attention and they don't pay the attention that they should. They'd rather focus on things that can garner income. There are roads that need to be fixed in places that tourists don't necessarily visit. And nobody cares about those roads. Minor injustices, major injustices—just things that really need to be spoken about so that people can think about it and look into it.

BDP used the term Edutainment—education and entertainment. Is that something you present in your music? Yes, it’s definitely something I aim for. I think that it’s important to keep people interested enough to want to absorb what you are saying. And then it’s equally important to present something that is worth absorbing. Something productive, something inspiring, motivating. Just mixing both so that you have their attention and you’re also delivering something that’s worth their attention.

You were still in school when you did your song “Burning.” As a new artist did you have to convince the producers to work with you? Gratefully, no I didn't have to convince them. Because I did a tribute to Usain Bolt before that. I wrote a song with my guitar titled “Legend” and posted a video of me performing it with my guitar on Instagram.

Usain came across it and reposted it, so that garnered a lot of attention. People from the music industry reached out to me, and in that group of people was Upsetta records with their Ouji Riddim. They sent it to my first manager like, “Let’s see what she can do” and so forth.

There’s this thing in Jamaica called Sixth Form. It’s like you graduate high school and there’s an extra two years that you can do as like a pre-college. I applied for it and didn’t get through. Right after that, I did the tribute to Usain Bolt and then Upsetta sent me the Ouji Riddim. I was in a state of mind where I felt disappointed. I felt the need to motivate myself, so I was like “Come with the fire the city burning!”

How does your mom feel about all of this? I started writing lyrics at 14 years old, but she didn't find out until I was 16, when she saw me perform at a competition in school. I invited her there and she was taken aback, like, “Wow! So this what you've been doing?” (Laughs) She wanted me to do academics like every parent wants. And she was little disappointed when I didn't get through to Sixth Form. But over time, as I wrote more and performed more, she began to trust my talent and just trust the process. So she started appreciating the music and now she's fully on board.

What did your mother think of “dancehall pon the street,” like you sing about in your song “Raggamuffin”? As you know I’ve been living with mommy since I was a baby up until I was 17, so being under her roof I didn't go out much. I was always in the house just chilling and stuff. I know that there’s a dance on like every corner. lf you are driving, you always hear music playing. You have the oldies dancehall, you have the new dancehall—everybody just hold a vibe. That’s basically where that line comes from.

Do you go to dances now? I’ve been going to a few parties and getting out, but I haven't been to like a dance dance. I’ve been to Dub Club, you get some really good music there. But Dub Club is like a relaxed kinda vibe.

You recently performed at Bob Marley’s 74th birthday celebration in Kingston. Do you still listen to his music? Most definitely! Bob has set such a great and amazing foundation for the music, the industry, the genre itself, the country, the youth... He’s set such a great example that you haffi really learn from it and take a lot from it so that you know where you’re coming from. You haffi understand how to execute in honor of such people.

What are some of your favorite Bob songs? Well, I performed “Who the Cap Fit” that night, so that’s one of my favorites. And I like “Is This Love” and “Natural Mystic.” That’s just a few.

I know that’s a hard question. What about a dancehall legend like Super Cat? Hmm… “Mud Up” woulda be my favorite Super Cat.

Really?! Yeah, because of the flow he has on it, not necessarily the content. See, I’m from Spanish Town. Jamaicans on a whole, we like vibes. We like lyrics that, as we would say, “it slap!” It touches you, and really hits that spot. So I listen to a lot of different things, and the lyrics that I listen to aren't always conscious. But what I derive from music is not necessarily the message. Sometimes the flow that you’re hearing, that’s the wave for the moment. It may not be the best for the youth, but that’s what people like to vibe to. So you take that vibe, put a positive message to it, and that’s the spin. So I listen very widely.

One of my favorite songs on your new EP is the “Rapture” remix. It was dope that you got together with Govana on that. When I first wrote “Rapture,” Govana had recently done a song called “Bake Bean” that took off in Jamaica. When him drop that, it’s like the flow really resonate with me. I was like, “This is dope.” So when I did “Rapture” I was listening back to it and thought I should probably try to get Govana on this track. And it turned out so sick!

That’s cool to have the credibility where other artists respond to you like that. Because I'm sure it’s not always that easy. No, it’s not always easy. Me haffi give thanks for the way people have been responding.

So no one has kissed their teeth and said, “Nah man”? (Laughs) No, not yet. (Laughs) But what I have to appreciate is just when another artist really listens and pays attention. Sometimes an artist can be good and they don't get the response or the attention that they deserve. Some people don't want to listen, so I give a lot of respect to who is willing to listen.

Well Govana has given you that “crown” in his verse, which reminds me—how did the song “Throne” come about? I remember Walshy sent me that riddim in the first batch of riddims that he sent me. The riddim for “Toast” was also in that batch, but I started with “Throne.” It was basically like a challenge for me. I was like “How am I gonna spit on this?” Because the riddim sounded so dynamic. I was like “mi haffi mash this up!” Hence the fast spit-fire kind of vibe.

What music are you currently listening to on your phone? I don’t listen to my own songs that much. I’m vibing to Mr Eazi. I’ve been going in on the Afrobeats. Burna Boy. Smino the rapper. And I’ve been going in even more on Bob Marley.

Well, it’s reggae month right now. So there’s lots of legendary birthdays—Bob Marley, Dennis Brown. That makes the month even more significant! By the way, I’m born in February also. (Laughs) February 16th.

Happy Earthstrong! Were you keeping that quiet? I just remembered. I’ll be 19!

Wow—you’re gonna be out of the teens soon. What you gonna do on your 19th birthday? Wowwwww—I dunno. I’m gonna see when I get to Jamaica which party. I’ll probably just try and go to a dance or something. That ah go be mad!

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Solitary Alignment: 5 Self-Affirming Reads For Single Ladies On Valentine’s Day

Ahh, the Feast of Saint Valentine—the Hallmark holiday that strikes us with its arrow each year, for better or for worse, depending on your bae status. While the romantic holiday is adored and celebrated by many, if you’re still reeling over, say, your ex’s refusal to commit, chances are Feb. 14 is more of a heartache for you than anything.

But as a wise woman once said, “If they liked it then they should’ve put a ring on it.” So whether V-Day has you scared of lonely or sulking over a lost love, as another wise woman once said, they “would be SUPER lucky to even set eyes on you this Valentine’s Day. That’s it. That’s the gift.” Shout out to The Slumflower.

Sure, having a bae on Valentine’s Day is cool, but so is reminding yourself why you’re just fine without one (cue Webbie’s “Independent”). In fact, single folks have better relationships overall, according to the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. You know how the old adage goes: love yourself before loving someone else.

For this Valentine’s Day, VIBE Vixen rounds up a nourishing list of books for our sisters doin’ it for themselves. Consider this your reminder of how badass you are—because you are! Oh, oh, oh. *Beyoncé voice*

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