Tosh Alexander’s new clothing line was inspired by the cross-dressing of black youth around the world, especially in the United States where she grew up.
The Jamaican singer is known for her breakthrough feature on the tube Twerking by Busta Rhymes and Nicki Minaj, produced by Pharell. The song currently has over 68 million YouTube streams and peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s seething Under R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart.
Thank you for hosting me.
How did you get into music?
I had parents who fully encouraged my brothers and I to pursue music.
Having parents who bought a karaoke mic and stuff from us, we were 6/7. There was a level of comfort that I developed with performing and singing. Years later I went to school with this young man who heard me sing one day and he said my dad was in a band called the Commodores and he had a girl band and I think you should be part of it. It was from there that I started my official journey into music.
What was your first song?
My first song recorded and released was Tiredness, produced by Super Hype on Smash Riddim called Tyad some bullshit Yuh.
What year was it?
I can’t remember the year Smash Riddim was released.
How long did it take from getting your first song to getting your first hit song?
It was probably seven or eight years old. The way it happened was so crazy because actually it wasn’t the first time I worked with Busta Or Pharrell. It was the third song I did with them but it was the one that was an official single and Busta shot a video for it.
How was this 7 year old grind?
What is very special about my career is that I grew up in the United States and in Jamaica. There was this constant me trying to figure out my space. At first, learning to record the songs was R&B but my background is that I’m Jamaican. For a long time it was me trying to figure out my sound and pocket. Twerking was unlike anything I’ve ever done but Pharrell convinced me.
Producing this song is part of what made it work, what was the process of making this song?
I never went into the studio saying I was going to explicitly scream on a song. I was supposed to sing, but if you’re in the studio with Busta, you’re gonna be kidding. Busta was like do this do that and I said no my parents can’t hear me doing that. Busta was like wah you mean when you drunk your parents it’s not gonna care you swear swear words on a track. I went behind the booth and just started shouting stuff. When I heard the pre-cut finish I was like it was interesting and was a bit embarrassed. The truth is, sometimes the art just won’t be appropriate. I want to thank Busta and Pharrell for introducing me to this space for not apologizing trying different sounds.
How would you define yourself as an artist today?
I found the balance. There’s a lot of pressure from female artists in Jamaica and there’s this obligation to bring out the culture in the music. The truth is based on how I was raised, I think of Diana King and so many famous Jamaican singers of the past who needed to sing in patois. So a lot of my music now is in the R&B lane. I went back to that as my roots, but now in this time of palatable dancehall world and Afrobeat fusion, I’m a singer and I’m from Jamaica and I’m showing the culture.
What kind of artist would you say you are if not dancehall?
I would say mostly fusing R&B pop with dancehall elements. I’m a pop artist, I don’t want to lock myself into dancehall and R&B. I am a pop artist.
You’ve been in the game for quite a while, other young people are girls coming in and doing their thing internationally, do you feel compelled to release more songs?
That’s a very good question, I’ve never been asked the question. I am inspired and encouraged by anyone, whether older or younger. I could never do dancehall like Tifa or Spice, I admire the women in our community. When I see Jamaican women dominating this space, I am extremely happy. We have the Koffee with a different kind of flow, Shenseea with that deep bass and Jadakingdom, very smooth, very witty. I’m very confident in my space and my sound and when you’re confident you don’t care who comes or how is going to fall next. Nobody is me.
What label are you in partnership with?
I signed a deal with First Class Entertainment. It’s a partnership. I am their new number and I look forward to working with them. They certainly understand my direction. I’ve already signed contracts and they only want me to do dancehall. I don’t want to be typecast for making a certain sound.
I have the impression that you enjoyed the success of (Twerk It), but do you regret that it was your first big success?
I regret everything, I’m so grateful for this opportunity, but it taught me a lot. Make sure you have a follow-up, because when you don’t, you miss that moment. That’s why now I take my time and I create a body of work, I take my time so that in case something happens there is not only music in this area but other music quality.
Where did the idea for your clothing line come from?
“Black Nuh Bomboclaat”, performed during the pandemic. When it comes to fashion and hair, I’ve always been very glamorous. The catalyst was during the pandemic when the music was at a standstill and we are into the unfolding atrocities where men and women are being killed on television. I was thinking of all the ways I could lift us up. I went to a demonstration and it did something to me. I never had to own being black, so I started reading a lot more. At the protest I took a pic and uploaded it with #bigbomboclaatblackpower and my friend said why not upload it. I came up with “Black Nuh Bomboclaat” and surprisingly it performed extremely well. Now is the time to have some really important conversations.
Anyone who identifies as black can be descriptive and bold.
Do you still have the same passion for music as when you just arrived?
That’s such a good question. I learned that as an artist and as a creative, it’s with you for life. For a long time there has been this pressure, especially on women, to peak in music. This causes many women to type early and become depressed. There was a time when I gave up on myself. What I’ve learned over the years is a journey of self-discovery and the kind of music I want to create is very different. I am finally at a place emotionally, mentally and spiritually where I am excited again.
Thank you Tosh
Thank you for.
Full interview on the World Music Views podcast