Koffee’s debut album, Gifted, is an album which foregrounds gratitude and positivity whilst reflecting on the societal issues of Koffee’s country, Jamaica. The ten track project which has no features showcases Koffee's ability to create hooks that stay with you - even from the first listen and seamlessly move between genres-specifically Reggae and Dancehall, creating feel good music with a message.
Held in the deceptively big Boiler House in Brick Lane, The Gifted release party combined elements which made the evening authentic to Koffee, not only were there videos and pictures of Koffee around the venue, but also quotes from her on the walls, faux palm trees, afro hair products being handed out. From saltfish fritters, festival, and plantain (the DJ playfully made it clear that tonight it was to only be called ‘plan-TIN.’) given out to guests through to the bathroom mirror having affirmations in patois on it. The Gifted cover art, and the sounds from Koffee’s charismatic DJ set the tone for the party and her performance to come.
Reggae and Dancehall hits were played throughout the night encouraging everyone to dance and have a good time - free-flowing Wray & Nephew, and Magnum might have had something to do with that too.
Koffee sounds as good live as she does on her records. As it was only right to do so, the performance started with the fan-favourite, Toast, which had everyone that wasn’t already in the crowd rush to the stage as soon as they heard the bassline. Throughout her set she was accompanied by two dancers, an amazing band (particularly the horn section), and blue, red, and purple lights which added to the already lively atmosphere.
In between performing songs from Gifted, her dancers appeared on stage again in their matching white outfits which meant it was time for us to dance again – and of course, with Rapture being played, the audience was already on the same page.
“The message I would like to pass on is that one, we’re all gifted - because life is a gift.”
Gifted begins with X10. Sampling Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, it is a gentle, uplifting opener showcasing Koffee’s soft vocals, acoustic guitars, and drums. With its message of gratitude, “thank you father for blessing me times ten,” X10 sets the tone for the rest of the album.
In the fifty-seven-second-long song ‘Defend,’ Koffee discusses political corruption, crime, and poverty. As a big rap fan, Defend, is a favourite on the album because of Koffee’s flow, diction, and the melodic way she effortlessly blends singing and rapping. It was no surprise to find out that Kendrick Lamar was present in the studio during the creation of this track.
Throughout Gifted, Koffee explores an array of genres: some signature to her, and some new. ‘Shine’ is produced by Jae5, and despite being lyrically heavy, it is a hopeful track that straddles Reggae and Pop. Track nine of the album Pull Up, is also a Jae5 production but is starkly different from ‘Shine-’ instead it is a fun and carefree Afrobeats track which is distinctive to Jae5’s sound, but new to Koffee. The romantic track Lonely is also refreshing to hear as it pays homage to e Lovers rock.
“Coming from the West Indies, and you know say we giving them the best indeed.”
Despite having been released in October, ‘West Indies’ is still a standout track on Gifted. It’s an anthem about enjoyment with incredible replay value that the crowd was happy to hear when it was performed. Koffee describes it as a song “about having fun, whatever mood you’re in,” and she definitely achieved this. Not only is it a tribute to her home and Jamaican heritage, but it is also a celebration of her achievements.
“Where will we go when di quarantine ting done and everybody touch road?”
Lockdown seems to be the perfect ending to the project – in a way that feels almost cathartic. It was released in 2020, and sums up what many would have experienced over the past two years. Somehow it feels like a privilege to be able to enjoy a song on this topic when being in lockdown was bleak for so many, and perhaps that’s why, when it was performed live it was met with such excitement from the crowd.