Success isn’t determined by one’s physical appearance. That saying holds true and dear to Jamaican dancehall artiste and singer Tifa. Diagnosed Blount’s disease from an early age she never allowed the illness to prevent her from realizing her dreams and pursuing her musical aspirations.
Blount’s disease is a growth disorder of the tibia (shin bone) that causes the lower leg to angle inward, resembling a bow leg.
‘I’ve had three surgeries. I spent most of my childhood in wheel chairs and crotches and in and out of hospitals and medical facilities in an attempt to make my legs straight. Following the third surgery the growth was stopped in my legs, because each time I grew the legs would grow right back out after being straightened’, Tifa explained.
She added ‘Growing up I got teased a lot. Guys have seen me sitting and when I got up and walked they didn’t want to date me anymore. A gas station attendant once spat at my car because she said I was a disgrace for wearing a skirt and that I shouldn’t have because to her I’m a handicap. Now being famous in Jamaica men wanna date me because they think it’s sexy and girls wanna walk like me’.
Originally from Kingston, Tifa grew up in the upscale Graham Heights community of Kingston 8. She later relocated to the hot bed of the country’s commercial district, Duke Street in Downtown, Kingston to live with her grandmother after her parents split.
Following the death of her grandmother she went to live with her mother’s best friend, former Ms Jamaica World beauty queen Joan McDonald.
‘That was a different but fun time. I was lived in Barbican and Mona. I was exposed to the world of pageants and tea parties and the “socialite life”. I then did my second surgery in grade two and during this period my mother decided to purchase a house in Jamaica. And after my common entrance exams I did my final surgery and she moved back to Jamaica permanently and I lived with her in the Acadia region of Kinston 8 uptown’, Tifa recalled.
Throughout her life, Tifa’s mother has been her towering strength.
‘My mother has been my towering strength and inspiration throughout my life. She and my dad had a bitter split and I didn’t see or hear from him for years. But she stepped up and did what she had to do to make me have the most in life. I was never in need of anything’, Tifa revealed.
Tifa’s interest in music developed from an early age. Her stepfather, the popular music producer Garfiled ‘Sampalue’ Phillips taught her a lot musically.
‘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.
While attending Wolmers Preparatory, Tifa was actively involved in the School Choir, Drama Club and Wolmers Dance Troupe. As recognition for her choreography talents grew, so did her passion for singing and songwriting. In early 2005, she decided to put her music first, recording on her stepfather’s record label Diamond Rush Records. She also collaborated with a number of his artists as well as others and sang backup for a short while. Tifa has since teamed with most producers in the Jamaica music fraternity. Tifa has been working really hard in the studio to produce highly talked about singles such as Kitty Police for TJ Records on the Show Off Riddim. She has had great success with her single Crawny Gal on the Dem Gal Sitt’n Riddim produced by Ward 21; the compilation CD was released to rave reviews in Japan where it was released and worldwide and Bottom of the Barrel was her first chart topping top ten single in 2008 on the dancehall charts.
Tifa also released the joint effort mix CD entitled “TNT – Three The Hard Way” with label mates Natalie Storm and Timber-Lee Heaven produced by New York famed DJ Max Glazer and The Federation Sound which was dubbed the maddest mix CD ever. Also in 2008 she did an extensive tour of Europe with her label mates and mentors Ward 21, which was very successful from which she became the first female reggae/dancehall artist 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 which brought about her most critically acclaimed piece of work, that being “Spell it Out,” a hard hitting dancehall single also produced by Ward 21, this song also became a chart topping single and street anthem.
A slew of other hard hitting tracks were released, including Tick it Like a Clock on Stephen McGregor’s Boasty Riddim, New Man on the Mash Up Riddim Produced by Christopher Birch, Sick produced by Equiknoxx Music, Boasty Wid It on the Style & Swagger Riddim Produced by Ballaz Production, and Why, just to name a few, which is a dancehall ballad revealing Tifa’s versatility, not only as a DJ but also as a singer, which was produced by Don Corleone on the Feminine Riddim.
In early 2010, Tifa walked away with five awards including the E.M.E.’s (Excellence in Music & Entertainment) for the “Most Improved Artist.” Stone Love awarded her “Best New Artist” and The Youth View Awards awarded two year running as “Female DJ of the Year ,” “Best Female Artist” & “Young, Hot, & Hype Female of the Year.” Before the yearend Tifa signed with as Brand Ambassador with the #1 Telecommunication Company Digicel, taking the Diva across the island for brand road shows, parties and launches.
The year started off a bang music-wise which saw her releasing a cover of If I Could Fly to rave reviews as well as eight other dancehall treats including the monster hit Move ur Body” and other one drop tracks. Tifa also was featured on Ludacris’ How Low Remix which also featured her mentors Ward 21 & rapper 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, Tifa displayed her commanding stage presence at the 2011 Reggae Sumfest Show in Montego Bay, St. James.
Tifa is currently brand ambassador for Telecommunications giant Digicel, as well as Bigga Sof Drink and Stewarts Motors Mini.
Her successful collaboration with popular Dancehall artistes Wayne Marshall and Future Fambo, resulted in 2011 summer hit single SWAGGIN, the infectious lyrics captures the essence of summer and the party vibe. The single has been blazing the charts both locally and internationally with its catchy lyrics, dynamic vocals and the energetic beat has changed both the lingo and fashion in dancehall culture.
Following the success of SWAGGIN, which became her first #1 single outside of Jamaica, peaking at number one on UKs BBC 1 xtra’s charts & making their play list and Get Flat. Tifa is featured on the Matrimony Medley. Tifa’s song “Wedding Chapel” that’s featured on both song and video compilation has taken over and is the # 1 video on MTV Africa. Swaggin peaked at # 4.
Tifa also dominated the scene for 2011 with songs like Matie Wine on the Contra Riddim and Dash Out on the Over Proof Riddim. 2012 started with a bang for Tifa. 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 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 took over the airwaves.
Among her performances in 2013 were shows in Washington DC, Antigua, and numerous stages across Jamaica.
So far into 2014, Tifa has released the love song This Love featuring newcomer Yahsha, Body Up, Out of this World, Gimmi Di Money 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.
Her recent performances include the 2014 Best of the Best concert in Miami, the Oracabessa Festival in New York, Reggae Sumfest (2014) in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the Crab Festival in Montego Bay and in Connecticut, USA.
In early July 2014, Tifa held a showcase in New York City where she performed some of her hits and launched the video and single Bak it Up. The video for Bak it Up which was shot on location in California and directed by Ben Marc was also featured on the popular MTViggy website.
In an effort to expand on her brand and celebrity status, dancehall artiste Tifa has ventured into merchandising with the release of her signature headphone line. The project is a partnership with Sound is Genious (SIG) and is called the ‘Tifa SIG’ line.
The popular urban website Globalgrind.com which is owned by American business magnate Russell Simmons in July 2014 did an extensive feature on Tifa where she spoke about music, living with blount’s disease and her career. Additionally, she is featured on the cover of the July 2014 issue of Caribbean urban publication L3 Magazine.
Another career highlight was seeing her single Body Up produced by Stephen ‘Di Genius’ McGregor featured in the July 11 episode of the Netflix feature vampire series Hemlock Grove.
Tifa was interviewed at the popular New York urban radio station WQHT Hot 97 FM by hosts Laura Stylez and Ebro Darden. The more than fifteen minute long interview saw Tifa discussing her career among other things and a live performance of the single Bak it Up.
Named among the Top Ten Reggae/Dancehall Greatest Lady Deejays by Largeup.com, Tifa has made a major step in her evolving musical career. She signed with the North America based independent Island Kings Records.
Island Kings Records was founded in 2014 by a team of industry experts who came together to create a label who’s main focus is to cross over artistes’ into the mainstream.