Marcy Chin Talks Rebranding, Creative Differences With Ce’Cile And Koffee Co-Sign

Some people have different visions of the type of artist they think Marcy Chin should be.

On opposite ends, there’s the pop-singing, rockstar, encouraged by her Downsound Records chief Joe Bogdanovich (*cues her gnarly rocker I Wanna*). But then there’s the stereotypical dancehall female act, once promoted by her former team.

Some spectators just want her to be “international”, though she’s already so inclined with the 2013 smash Mek It Bunx Up with DeeWunn, which has over 57 million Spotify streams.

Stir-frying to the beat of her own drum, Madam Chin City, more than anything, wants to be well-known at home. 

“It’s all great that everybody is like, ‘Oh, foreign yuh thing deh’, but mi thing deh yah so too,” the Street Fighter entertainer told DancehallMag. “What if Jamaicans knew a girl like me existed and this sound existed, and they realised they could play with this sound and do more? It always feels like dancehall is in a box and you have to do one of four things or whatever, and you have to stay the same way all the time. But what if they realised you could do more and still sound cool, still sound like it, have fun, and we don’t have to wait until we crossover to get a different sound? You can get it from home, right here.”

Recording artist Marcy Chin

Accordingly, she’ll be damned if she relocates to The States in search of mainstream success, a journey undertaken by artists like Shenseea and Spice, which has seen one more endorsed for cooking videos, and another venturing into reality television. 

“Mi nah move to America fi try buss now. Nah, I’m trying to do it from here. For me, it’s about getting more songs out there and gaining more fame locally, so when mi drop inna the America space, it’s as a big dog, not as some little girl trying to get some influencer-type fame, doing everything but music in videos.”

And she’s been crafting her plan to make it happen. 

Many were introduced to the dynamic artist (whose given name Lonique Chin) during the virtual staging of Reggae Sumfest in 2020, but she was building her brand a decade prior. By 2014, Chin had tasted iTunes reggae chart success with When Again which peaked at No. 3 (Israel).

Within two years, she was a touring staple in Europe and South America, continents she’d prior graced with dancehall disruptor Ward 21, which features Kunley Da Kulprit. The latter has been instrumental in sculpting her sound and encouraging her uniqueness, even in her current signing to Downsound Records. 

Reflecting on her journey within the label, the Gimmie More creator said she initially struggled to curate a team that saw and nourished her vision. She shared that she was actually working with Skatta Burrell and Ce’Cile, who were gearing up to launch a label within the company. 

“When COVID came, it kinda messed it up… Skatta was saying, ‘Just hold out and I’m maybe gonna get you to sign with Joe’, cause him believe inna the thing… Him see seh mi a star, so him a tell me fi hold out, while Ce’Cile a tell me fi pack it up.”

Producer Skatta Burrell (left) serves as Marcy Chin’s advisor at Downsound Records.

A student of music and pop culture, Chin had her eyes set on the global TikTok takeover, and anticipated its impact on the local music scene. She tried to plug her team on the budding wave, but said it was dismissed as an app for kids. 

“I held out and started doing my TikTok videos, and when my TikTok started to blow up, Joe started to pay attention to me because at the time, yes, we had met each other, but he was on Sumfest business cause Downsound had shutdown the artist part of things for a long time before I got there… He started seeing my TikToks which impressed him so much cause he’s from the film world… Whatever he saw, reminded him of that… Skatta saw that I was really right about TikTok, he got on board, and the rest is history.”

Chin said she used to blindly trust the expertise of seniors, the costs of which were her identity and creative freedom. She cited her 2021 hardcore track Lipstick as an example, which she said Ce’Cile deemed her “it” song. 

“We weren’t in agreement on that, but mi trust her at the time because she is who she is and everybody see her as the person who knows it all… But then, it wasn’t.”

Her rap-style profile defies the traditional passage of your everyday dancehall artist, which she believes requires inventive marketing, instead of copy and paste. 

“Prior to now, underexposure was my problem and working with people who never really understood me and my process; how we needed to go about breaking someone like me,” she said. “So, they would spend money on a traditional route and then it wouldn’t go how it should, because you know everybody is different and when you’re marketing a product, you really have to tailor your marketing to that product. When you have people on your team who don’t really understand that, then that’s where you have a problem…

“Skatta was one of the first persons to actually say to me, ‘You are so different, I don’t know what to do with you’, and I appreciate that more than anybody who comes to me acting like they know what to do, cause that was the problem… Skatta will say he doesn’t know and we’ll have to figure it out, and that’s the difference.”

Chin is on the front line when it comes to tackling this challenge. She’s taken hiatuses from the public eye to revise her brand image and sound, leading to a newfound notoriety of scroll-stopping freestyles on topics like domestic violence and sexual relationships. Based on the online engagement, she’ll release the freestyle as a single, best managing tracks which get monetary investment, versus those that keep her in the algorithm.

Kunley is still her rhythmic partner in crime, with their latest cook-up, When Mi Ah, becoming her second most recently streamed track on Spotify, endorsed by influencers and fans alike. 

On the matter of endorsements, she’s had validation from her peers, including Spice, Bounty Killer and Koffee who saluted her 2022 Sumfest performance. The Grammy-winning Toast hitmaker sought her out at the event even hours after her set, and a clip of their exchange made the rounds online.

“She was like, ‘Mi waan tell yuh seh yuh bad. Mi watch yuh performance and mi go back a mi hotel and mi listen all of your songs dem. Yuh tough, tough, mi nuh waan yuh stop. Mi know sometimes yuh deh pon the stage and you can’t really tell seh people out deh a cheer fi yuh, but we inna the crowd a cheer fi yuh enuh girl’, and I was like, whoa.

“I remember saying something like ‘tough crowd’, so I think that’s why she mentioned that… That was a big cosign and for her to say she went back to her hotel and fully listen to my sh*t and she wanted me to know that, that’s definitely a big thing.”

For 2024, the Buzz artist is dwelling in her creative zone and pumping up her music releases. She’s more settled with her current team, hailing publicist Mali Henry as her strategic equal.

She’s still figuring out how she’d like to present on stage, but as she’s nailed her ideal sound and visuals, she’s confident it’ll come.

“When I’m writing new songs, I think of the stage. I think, how can I come on the stage with a song? That helps me with how I start the bar or whatever, so, I’m still figuring it out, but there’s definitely a vision. A lot of the times I’m winging it – even in rehearsals – cause either there’s a production problem and I have to pivot or whatever else… I’d say the type of dedication Beyoncé has to her shows and how she puts her things together, I have a similar drive. I just need to figure out exactly what I wanna execute and I’m still there now.” 

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