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Koffee’s “Gifted” blends reggae roots of the past with present-day sounds

Koffee's “Gifted” blends reggae roots of the past with present-day sounds
We Could All Use Koffee’s Optimism Right Now.

By the time the final days of summer 2019 rolled around, every single DJ set at New York City day parties started to sound and look the same: The opening strains of Burna Boy’s “Ye” meant the whole room was ready to break out their best shaku-shaku (a Nigerian dance style); crowds belted out Megan the Stallion’s “Realer” with gusto; and performing Ding Dong’s “Fling Yuh Shoulder” (a Jamaican dance style) too hard resulted in back pains the morning after—trust me, I would know. But the party wasn’t complete until the heartbeat-like thumps of “Toast” by rising Jamaican singjay Koffee blared through the speakers forcing the crowd to yell, “Blessings all pon mi life and/Mi thank God fi di journey, di earnings a jus fi di plus.” Then, you’d be shoved off the booze-soaked dance floor to watch someone’s failed attempt at the viral dance routine that helped Koffee’s breakout single go, well, viral.

By 2020, it was hard to hear “Toast” and not have its cheery, optimistic lines playing on loop in your head. It was a clear song of the summer in every sense of the term—sticky hook, bouncy melody, and, thanks to the Active Dancers, catchy choreography. Co-produced by Walshy Fire of Major Lazer (the group with a collection of summer hits that includes “Lean On,” the Justin Bieber-assisted “Cold Water,” and “Light It Up”) and Miami-based Jamaican producer IzyBeats known for his tag “Izy, are you kidding me?” the beat wasn’t originally intended for Koffee; but after Fire presented “Toast” to the singer, “it formed out to be a fire ting,” as she puts it in the song.

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