Ms Grace Hamilton, better known to her growing number of fans as the stage personality Spice, could not have delivered a more ear-splitting slap to the brain of Mr Foota Hype, real name Oneil Thomas, than by snagging a 2021 Grammy nomination for best reggae album.
Foota Hype, a dancehall sound system selector, recently launched a blistering attack on dancehall artiste Spice for agreeing to perform next year on Pride Toronto, which features such gay events such as a trans march, dyke march, and Pride parade.
Reacting angrily to the announcement, Hype lamented in an Instagram post that he was “completely defeated, ashamed, embarrassed, weak, betrayed” and “In my subconscious mind, I was confident that two people I would never live to see do this was @spiceofficial and grunggadzilla (Bounty Killer)”.
Ms Hamilton's nomination came as if in direct repudiation to Foota Hype's insulting broadside against her earlier, when he said: “Mi know it hurt say the international market nah gi u di respect and glory weh u deserve tru u nuh look Spanish or close to white like @shenseea dem and dem still nah go gi u.
“Don't lose uself trying to win that battle. Do, don't destroy dancehall morality to please ur insecurities and ur ego. It's not too late to cancel the show and save ur integrity and ur career.”
Moreover, the claim that Spice has not been getting international respect is not true because she has been doing the rounds on big US network television shows, based on her highly successful work with the very supportive Mr Orville “Shaggy” Burrell and Mr Sean “Sean Paul” Henriques.
Spice's nomination for best reggae album is said to be the first for a hard-core female dancehall artiste. Lady Saw, now Minister Marion Hall, won the Grammy for best duo or group as part of a collaboration with No Doubt in 2002.
The Jamaican entertainment industry has been maturing and mellowing in its anti-gay stance. Top reggae artistes like Mr Mark “Buju Banton” Myrie and Mr Rodney “Bounty Killer” Pryce have toned down considerably.
Of course, it took the US gay community's organised campaign and sustained boycott of performances by artistes they deem to be anti-gay to inspire many of them to eschew anti-homosexual lyrics and embrace tolerance.
Ms Hamilton's takedown of Foota Hype is very appropriate: “I don't discriminate! I love all my fans no matter what race or their sexual preference; it's not my decision to make. So you're upset because I'm performing at a Pride event when you've been working for different pride organizers all your life? Well I'm very sorry but my music does not stop at your big… foot.”
We in this space don't support some of the rawness of Spice's dancehall performances which, by the way, doesn't seem to bother Foota Hype, nor does the gun culture and insulting of women that is typical of the genre. But we are impressed by her creativity and her business acumen which are taking her places. Women artistes like Spice need the support of men who have made it, and we salute Shaggy and Sean Paul for their embrace of her.
Heartiest congratulations to Spice and this year's other Grammy nominees: Shauna-Gaye “Etana” McKenzie, singer; Roy “Gramps” Morgan, singer; Sean Paul, deejay; Jesse “Royal” Grey, singer; and US-based reggae band SOJA.