For those who are experiencing a special tinge of excitement in the air, as if Christmas is about to pop up a bit earlier than usual, it’s not the red-nosed reindeer that’s about to make an entry, it’s the Red Bull Culture Clash. For the first time, the event comes to the home of sound clash; and foundation artistes, new artistes, soundmen, selectors, radiomen, deejays, singers, singjays and even fashionistas are all agog with excitement.
For some persons, the thrill of just being present at a Red Bull clash is enough, but for others, it goes a little bit deeper than that. British-Jamaican entertainer Alicai Harley, who resides in South London, falls into the latter category. “I’m so glad that I’m actually here in Jamaica when Red Bull (culture clash) is in my hometown,” a thrilled Alicai told The Gleaner.
She is no stranger to the brand, having represented for them last year and again this year at the popular Notting Hill Carnival in London. Red Bull Music had set up a stall at the Park, with a bill that brought together the best dancehall, bashment, rap and Afrobeat acts from the UK and Caribbean. Queen of the Stage, Spice, was the headliner and Alicai teamed up with Jamaican selector, Tony Matterhorn, to form Hot Shots After-Dark Sound System.
“Red Bull has been good to me,” she said, her tone infused with the “gratitude” that she speaks a lot about. And it looks as if the goodness is continuing. Alicai has been asked to play a role in the historic culture clash that is about to unfold in Kingston, Jamaica. “I will be taking over their social media,” she stated, a little breathless with anticipation, but as with all things Red Bull Culture Clash, secrecy seems to be the unofficial name of the game. So, not unexpectedly, she was unable to elaborate on exactly what that entails. Quite well known to Spragga Benz, who is part of Red Bull’s ‘Do It For The Culture’ team, Alicai couldn’t say whether or not she will be one of their special guests, come Saturday.
Her poker-faced response was: “That would be good, but I really don’t know.”
Alicai, a singer and songwriter, whose freestyles are totally infectious, signed a dope deal with Warner Bros in May, which sees her still being in control of all her creatives. She is being hailed as the next big female in reggae and dancehall to come out of London, and her latest single, Rushing, a fusion of R&B, dancehall, and rap, is cementing her status as someone to contend with.
“I have been getting a lot of positives,” she said of the signing. “All of the UK was championing me for this breakthrough. Congratulations were pouring in, on radio and through the phone. The same day I signed the deal I went to LA for the first time, so it has been a great time for me,” she stated.
Alicai’s breakout came with the track Gold, which earned her a street buzz, catching the ear of influential BBC1Xtra disc jockey and producer, Seani B. The single subsequently went on to amass more than one million streams.
She has been compared to dancehall’s legendary female acts, including Lady Saw, Patra and Mumma Nancy, and she insists that staying true to her Jamaican roots is essential to her authenticity. “I fly the flag high for Jamaica. I went to the UK with my mother for a better life but I am championing my country. Everybody who interviews me knows that here is where my roots are,” she told The Gleaner.