Exclusive Interview: Jamaican Pop Star Samantha J On Her Latest Hit Song “Baby Love”, Love For Her Kenyans Fans And Favorite African Artist


Jamaican pop star Samantha J has been on airwaves lately for her new smash hit “Baby Love” featuring Grammy Award winning R. City, an American musical duo hailing from St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The two recently topped the world charts as part of a collaboration with Maroon 5 lead vocalist Adam Levine.

The colorful video, catchy tunes and more mature theme of the release has put Samantha in another level.

Coming across as both gorgeous and talented, outgoing, bubbly and visionary, the singer has been working on a string of new singles which she plans to release in the coming months.

The “Tight Skirt” hit maker has been recording mostly in Los Angeles, but she also has been in the studio in Boston, Norway, and Florida. She’s already worked with globally acclaimed producers, including RedOne (Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj), R. City (Miley Cyrus, Beyonce), JR. Rotem (Rihanna, Sean Kingston), Jim Jonsin (T.I., Lil Wayne), Supa Dups (Bruno Mars, Drake) and The Stereotypes (Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Chris Brown).

Her latest collaboration with R. City has quickly picked up, receiving positive feedback all around the world. She is in a new deal with Sony Music Norway which has seen her work with Norwegian pop stars Marcus and Martinus, with their song “Light It Up” topping Swedish charts as well as all over the Scandinavian region. They also toured together earlier this year.

The 20-year-old was born in Kingston, Jamaica and was raised in Saint Ann but has managed to amass a big and growing fan base across Africa, the USA, her homeland, and Europe. Ask any teen around in the streets of Nairobi, you’ll get told who Samantha J is. She is an inspiration to young people in Kenya and all over the continent. Her innovative approach to doing music — infusing dancehall and reggae into pop — has made her vibe infectious.

Some of her greatest releases to date are “Bad Like Yuh” and “League of My Own” featuring Dej Loaf. At such a young age, she has outdone herself in her musical career.

Samantha J
Samantha J at the Hollywood Carnival.

I caught up with the star to know what she’s been up to and here’s what she had to say!

Harun: Samantha, you’ve just released a hot music video in collaboration with R. City. It’s received a lot of positive feedback from your fans all over the world. How was it like working with RedOne, one of the world’s best producers on the record? What was the inspiration behind this soulful, emotion sparking song that’s set to take over the airwaves?

Samantha: Initially it was supposed to be a meeting. I met with him it turned into working for two weeks! In the two weeks we came up with like eight songs and “Baby Love” was one of our favorites. We did the video in Malibu. I am so excited that it’s out now and I can’t wait to hear what my Kenyan fans will say. So far, feedback has been great. It’s all about love; no matter what everybody else has to say. It’s all about how much he’s dedicating himself to your heart…that’s what it’s all about.

Harun: You’re only 20 yet you’ve quickly established yourself as the face of Jamaican pop. What are some of the things that have contributed to your continued success since you first released “Tight Skirt”?

Samantha: Well, my first single was “Tight Skirt” which I did when I was 15. I turned 16 when the video dropped. Right now, I am 20 years old. I’ve learnt so much ever since. The biggest part of the journey has been learning. I have a great team and we worked hard together. To be a successful person overall or as an artist you need to have a team that you trust. It has taken me so far.

Samantha J
Samantha at the Sony Music Norway offices.

Harun: You have a huge fan base here in Nairobi, Kenya. You’re really loved. When do you plan to throw your fans a crazy concert?

Samantha: I plan to come to Kenya but right now I am focusing on releasing more music so that I can come there and make the best concert I could ever do. I am doing a video for my next single already. Next month — late August — I’m to shoot that video in Norway. The next single is likely to be called called “Rockets” and was produced by the Norwegian team of Erik and Kriss. I’m working on releasing a new song every three months as I am on a new record deal so I have the ability. You guys can look out for that on my social media @samanthajlive on Instagram, Facebook.com/SamanthaJLive, Twitter.com/SamanthaJLive and my website http://samanthajlive.com/.

Harun: Should we expect an album anytime soon?

Samantha: An album? No…I can say that I have a lot of singles that I’m releasing. I’ll do an album when I feel comfortable where I feel like everyone knows me through my music and I have a sound that people all over the world can hear. People just wanna hear my original music; my whole body of work. An album is gonna come but right now I wanna give you hits and hits and hits.

Harun: You position yourself as a pop musician. Your style is a fusion of Jamaican music and contemporary pop music. We’re seeing more and more artists like Drake infusing Caribbean or Afro-pop influence into their music. Who are some of your current muses? Who or what influences your musical style?

Samantha: I am inspired by so many people. I am obviously from Jamaica. I listen to all types of music and observe different types of cultures. From Michael Jackson to Shaggy…everybody. Beyonce, Jayz, 2Pac. Right now I am listening to Mr. Eazi and all these people I listen to have some influence on how my music is to be.

Samantha with fellow Jamaican artist Popcaan at an event.

Harun: Back in March, you performed alongside the biggest pop stars in the Scandinavian region, the twin duo Marcus & Martinus. You also worked with them on their song “Light It Up”, which performed so well on Norwegian charts, which went double Platinum all over the Scandinavian region of Europe (Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark) and currently has over 16 million streams on Spotify and the video also has 17 million views on Vevo/Youtube. You also performed alongside them all over Scandinavia to sold out crowds in excess of 17 thousand people (The Globe in Stockholm, Sweden, the Spektrum in Oslo, Norway, and the Royal Arena in Copenhagen, Denmark). Previously, you have shared stage with big artists like Ludacris. That’s everyone’s dream — to be successful at a young age. Where do you see yourself in the next three years? Who else do you wish to collaborate with on musical projects? Why them in particular?

Samantha: Yes, I worked with Marcus & Martinus and I love them so much. It was a pleasure. For the next three years, the sky’s the limit for me. I am hoping to have a lot of music out for you guys. I hope to be going to Africa frequently and just sharing the craft, the art and the love all around the world.

Harun: Africa is a continent full of talent; from this year’s BET winner Wizkid to MTV EMA award winning band Sauti Sol. Who’s your favorite African artist? Who’s music have you been jamming to lately?

Samantha: Wizkid and Mr. Eazi are my favorite African artists right now — I’ve been listening to them. I’m looking into collaborating with them. I actually met Wizkid before. I even briefly appeared in the “Can’t Believe It” video with Kranium, Wizkid and Ty Dollar $ign.

Harun: How have you managed to balance the demanding music career and school? So many creative artists gave up school to concentrate full time on music? How would you advise young, talented fans out there who are not sure whether to give up education for their talents?

Samantha: I think you should never give up on education. When I was in high school, my mom told me that I could not do music unless I pass my final exams and I did just that. I told myself I literally need to do this ‘cause I need to work on my music. The knowledge that you gain in school will help you in the real world; there’s no need to drop out. That’s what my mom taught me when I was younger.

samantha J
A behind the scenes shot from “Baby Love” music video shoot.

Harun: You’re a fashionable lady. I love your style, by the way. How would you describe your fashion sense?

Samantha: I just like to be fun, comfortable, edgy and young at the same time. I don’t need to look older than I am. I think it’s all about being me and channeling that in my fashion. I’m not a picky person in terms of shopping. I love to go for the main brands sometimes. I also go shop anywhere like anybody else…think Top Shop. I haven’t shopped in Europe or Africa yet, but I hope to do so when my music takes me there. I want some dashikis and dope outfits from there.

Harun: You’ve chosen to be an inspiring, forward-thinking artist who is talent driven rather than focus on controversy. You’ve not gone the Miley Cyrus way. Why is that?

Samantha: My fanbase is quite varied. I have kids from 5 years old and then I have people up to 50 years old who listen to my music. In order to really give them music that they want and can relate to, I have to make sure that it’s real to them. They don’t want anything that is not family friendly. I am sharing love through music and it’s nothing more than sharing the love.

Harun: What’s that one moment from your childhood that made you realize that you wanted to pursue music in the long term?

Samantha: Well, I had a music teacher in primary school. He once brought me to the front of the classroom and told me that I am the leader of the choir. He really brought the confidence out of me told me that I am a singer. I have this video of me singing a cover to “If I Was A Boy” that he posted on Youtube. I was really young — I didn’t even know the lyrics. I was given an hour to learn and when I performed it, it came out so well even though I didn’t know most of the words.

Samantha J
Rocking that pop style look.

Harun: Apart from music, what other talents do you have? Or, which other special projects do you have going on?

Samantha: Music is my passion, straight up…but I also like cooking, acting, drawing and painting. I actually love doing makeup. I did a tutorial just the other day and I’ll put it up soon. I’m just passionate about art and creativity.

Harun: Finally, what’s your parting shot to all the fans who have supported you relentlessly?

Samantha: I want thank all my African fans, all my fans out there in Nairobi, Kenya for supporting me since “Tight Skirt”. Thank you so much. You guys are so supportive…you made me who I am. You are a part of Samantha J crew. Don’t give up ‘cause I won’t give up. I’ve got some new music coming up, wait for it!

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