Words by Ronnia Cherry
Bush tea, a soothing drink usually derived from native plants such as lemongrass (or “fever grass”), is embraced as a cure-all and versatile health aid all across the West Indies. The U.S. Virgin Islands has a particular affinity for the drink, which is even served by the local McDonald’s restaurants.
St. Croix, the largest of the three U.S. Virgin Islands, now brings us Bush Tea, a rapper/deejay whose eclectic, dancehall-influenced sound is making waves across the map. She’s performed alongside The Weeknd, Popcaan and Princess Nokia to name a few, and is carving out her own lane in music.
After releasing the gorgeous visual for “Tao Tape” earlier this year, Bush Tea returns with an unapologetically fresh video for her single “Wiyah Waist.” The video finds her riding her ATV through the hills, puffing cigars with her crew and sipping coquitos like a real bad gyal.
Musically, the track’s 808s and steelpan sounds complement her baritone vocals, which flow between patois-inflected dancehall and an animated hip-hop style reminiscent of Nicki Minaj or Lady Leshurr. Her style? Baad. Never one to shy away from a statement, Bush Tea blends contemporary femininity with rude gal realness, challenging the larger context gender roles play in dancehall and reggae, while encouraging everyone to express themselves freely. And “Wiyah Waist” is all about expression, from the colours to the dancing.
“I wanted to tap into my Island girl/tomboy vibe with the ATV through the hills. It was all island tings, J’ouvert & sipping delicious Puerto-Rican made coquito with the girl gang playing dominoes,” the artist shares via email.
LargeUp has always been a massive supporter of music from the U.S. Virgin Islands, from the Virgin Islands Nice series with Pressure Buspipe and Vaughn Benjamin (of Midnite/Akae Beka fame) to our South by Southwest showcase with Pressure, R City and Verse Simmonds in 2016. The love continues with this exclusive premiere.