Toni-Ann Singh of Morant Bay was crowned Miss World in December, capping a banner year for Jamaican women on the world stage. From Jada Kingdom and Koffee’s international music breakthroughs to the Reggae Girlz’ run to the Women’s World Cup, 2019 will go down as the year when women, not men, were at the center of the Jamaican conversation.
Los Angeles-based, Kingston-raised rapper Zac Jone$ arrives right on time then with his tribute to the ladies of yard, “Miss Jamaica” featuring Agent Sasco. Taking a cue from Jay-Z’s classic (if absurdly stereotype-laden) Blueprint track “Girls,” the Iotosh-produced track (a re-lick of Alton Ellis’ timeless “I’m Still in Love With You” rhythm) takes listeners on a tour of the island’s 14 parishes by introducing us to a female character from each.
Most — if not all — of the parishes turn up in the “Miss Jamaica” video, which was co-directed by Jone$ and Jesse Suchomel and stars a bevy of Jamaican beauties in settings like Hellshire Beach and St. Thomas’ Reggae Falls. Part tourism ad, part Instagram eye candy highlight reel, the “Miss Jamaica” video has its world premiere right here.
Watch the video below, and read on for a brief interview with Mr. Jone$.
LargeUp: How were the women cast in the video chosen?
Zac Jone$: One of the main messages behind “Miss Jamaica” is the fact that, in my eyes, every woman is a Miss Jamaica… Women are the foundation of our world on a whole and, without them, we would not be here. I’m blessed to have grown up in Jamaica, because it taught me to have an all-inclusive appreciation for all types of women. Color is not really a thing in Jamaica, like it is in the U.S.
Jamaica is home to all types of women: Black, brown, Chinese, white, Indian. When a woman is beautiful in Jamaica, she is just considered beautiful, regardless of her background. I wanted to show people, especially the next generation, that all women are beautiful regardless of color, creed, etc. Society’s standards of beauty do not need to be used to define beauty, and I wanted the video to reflect this. So we chose women who represented this. A special thanks must also go to my friends Annaixe and Rebecca Mahfood for their help in the process, too.
LU: Did you have any specific Jamaican women in mind when writing the song?
ZJ: As the lyrics and video suggest I’m referring to a different girl for every parish. A lot of it is very drenched in metaphors as far as the juxtaposition of the women and the parishes go but I definitely based a lot of the girls I spoke about and their personalities off of real women. The great thing about it is that the personalities of each girl I’m describing are different and so it becomes not just appreciating and focusing on physical differences but different personalities as well, which are equally as beautiful as they are diverse.
LU: You’re from Kingston but have recently called Los Angeles home. Do you feel like L.A. is a good place for a Jamaican artist such as yourself to be?
ZJ: L.A. is definitely a great place for me as an artist. I’ve always been predominantly a rapper vs. being a reggae/dancehall artist and, though it’s becoming more popular now, I remember when people would tell me it could never work out of Jamaica. So me being in L.A. really fit into that dream I had, and it showed me how people all over the world appreciated my sound and could see my vision even when a lot of my own people couldn’t.
LU: How has living in LA impacted your music?
ZJ: It’s had a very big impact. I’ve been able to lock in, tune everything out and just create, especially right after being in Jamaica for a while. It’s always allowed me the space to reflect on my island and culture and appreciate it more from a distance and then articulate those moments into my music. It’s been a great escape for me. Being a Jamaican rap artist and being in L.A. was like a dream come true because I’m around so many of the people that I listened to growing up and the places I used to only see in videos. L.A. also gave me a strong music business mind. Being at USC and studying music business, law, etc. and then being able to apply it in real time in the biggest music city in the world is a priceless experience.