It may be the end of July, but summer is sure not over. A hot, dynamic, dancehall song ‘Naah Done’ by the always energetic Alicai Hailey will make its way to the top of your pre-drinking playlist. It is the ‘Naah Done’ sound that will empower prior shy women to dance their life away.
At the age of five, Alicai moved from Jamaica to London. Listening to her music, it is evident that Alicai stayed close to her roots and her home back in Kingston: “Before moving to London at five, from what I can remember, growing up in Jamaica was very atmospheric. Just thinking about it brings back very nostalgic feelings and lots of memories of my father and siblings. The time I spent in Jamaica also influences a lot of my music, I was always singing and making my own little songs.”, Alicai remembers.
The reason for Alicai’s move to London was simple – family and future. Her mother was already in London, and she sent for her children, one at a time: “She moved us to London for a better life, and also for us to have more opportunities. I remember feeling very anxious about getting on a plane and moving away from my father, but also very excited to see my mother again”, Alicai talking about her bittersweet experience, leaving one parent behind and seeing another parent after a long time.
Living in a household where music is so appreciated is hard not to fight about who loves it more. Alicai taking the win, even though her mom also has a voice and loves to sing as well: “She tends to mainly use it to throw shade at me when she’s annoyed around the house with her old school little hymns”, she responds jokingly.
A career in music and singing is not easy to uphold. For Alicai, the passion for music came naturally, but it was her hard work and determination that got her where she is today: “For me, it seems like I’ve just always loved music and this is what I’ve always wanted to do. I can’t remember life without me wanting that, and it’s just been a dream for as long as I can remember. The singing came naturally, but to get into music and in the industry, I kind of just put myself out there from a very young age to be seen and heard. Everything from social media, to going out to open mics once I was old enough to do so”.
Besides being inspired by everything and anything, Alicai puts emphasis on self-reflection and giving back: “I’m inspired by the people and things that go on around me. I can take inspiration from practically anything or any situation, but my main drive is to always remember that I have been through a lot myself and I have a lot of people to inspire & motivate”, she replies humbly.
Alicai’s vibey song ‘Gold’ is inspired by a person’s character and personality when she was on a night out. Alicai has more to say about the story: “The way the person carried themselves inspired the lyrics. I wrote ‘Gold’ in about 30 minutes, as I had just got home and I was just flowing because my energy was still up from the party. The producer of the track is ‘J GLAD MUSIC’ from South Africa, who I met through YouTube and we are still in contact now”, she confirms that ‘Gold’ is a true example of real-life experiences inspiring the best music.
The hard work never stops, but for Alicai is not work. It is simple as channeling her energy and working with the right people. This Spring, Alicai released a new song ‘Killa‘ that is drawn around her persona: “The story behind ‘Killa’ was just off pure vibes in the studio with me and producer The FaNaTix, and a lot of what I did write was about my own character and being a dominating but fun and bubbly woman”. A more recent featuring was with Ayo Beatz on ‘One Time.’
Her newest single ‘Naah Done’ may be her best one yet. Speaking to her Jamaican roots with the old dancehall sound, but staying within the current sort. ‘Naah Done’ was produced by MusicMan Ty, one of the Swizz Beatz producers with whom Alicai vibed instantly. She expands more about the process of making this hit song: “When I initially came up with the first few bars, I had it in my head and I wasn’t sure how others would respond as it was such a different sound. As I continued to write, I allowed the whole song to take me back to old school dancehall and really highlighted my influences. For ‘Naah Done’ I just really wanted everyone to feel alive whenever they heard the song”, Alicai refines. The music video for ‘Naah Done’ was a perfect excuse for her to come home after 16 years and give her fans more of a taste of Kingston and everything that surrounds it.
Besides working with talented producers, Alicai is featured on multiple duets. The collaboration with Ashley David for ‘Touched’ was quite organic: “Ashley hit me up through a friend of mine and he sent me a few records before he sent Touched, but for me Touched was the song that I really liked so we just hooked up, I went to the studio, wrote and recorded my verse”.
Alicai’s talent is undoubtedly being recognized and picked up by the right people. This year she got to tour around the UK with the BBC Introducing, where she got to perform in front of a different crowd every day. On top of this, Alicai had the opportunity to be a part of Brighton’s The Great Escape festival, an amazing inauguration for emerging artists.
When asked about future, Alicai gracefully replied: “I’m going to just do as much as I can to make the world know who I am and what I stand for, with God’s grace, not just musically but my purpose.” After, she reveals she will be performing outside the country for the first time at Hype Festival in Germany.
Karolina Kramplova | WRITER