Shenseea Didn't Think 'Rebel' And 'Lighter' Would Be Hit Songs

When it comes to her Dancehall catalog, Shenseea admits there are songs that have far exceeded her expectations, like Rebel and Lighter with Tarrus Riley.

Both tracks were released in 2020, with the spicy independent Rebel inspired by a loose-lipped man Shenseea was dating at the time. 

“I did not believe in Rebel,” the Jamaican artist shared on Instagram Live on Wednesday. “Don’t get me wrong, I think it was a great song… I was playing around when I wrote Rebel and I was with a guy who was talking my business. I was like, I can’t be with you cause why you talking my business? You’re fricking weird and that’s how I put that line in the song, ‘If him a chat yuh business, him a wasteman.’”

Produced by Good Good Productions, she wrote Rebel while stuck in quarantine with the rest of the world. The period also birthed The Sidechick Song, which she was more betting on. 

“I wrote Rebel and The Sidechick Song close to the same time and I was like, Sidechick Song is the hit. But then when I dropped Rebel, I did not even promote Rebel for months until I see it blowing up by itself. I was like wait, imma bandwagon my own song. I start promoting it.”

Nestled on the Liquid Sunshine riddim (biggest rival being Dexta DapsCall Me If), Rebel has earned more than 49 million YouTube views and 30 million streams on Spotify.

The numbers are even more impressive for Lighter, the euphoric record with Tarrus Riley. Produced by Rvssian, it’s racked up 91 million YouTube views and 18 million Spotify streams, all to Shenseea’s surprise.

“I did not know Lighter was gonna hit… I was like, I really like the song, I think it’s dope, but to hit like it did? I did not see that coming.”

Related: Shenseea’s 30 Best Songs (Lighter and Rebel are ranked No. 2 and 7, respectively).

But there are other records she foresaw success with, even when people didn’t see her vision to enter the US music market. Blessed, her 2019 hip-hop debut with Interscope Records featuring Tyga, is the consummate example. 

“When Blessed came out, a lot of people hated that song – I remember it clear as day,” she recalled. “They were like, ‘What the f**k is this? The song is not good. She’s just so repetitive, singing blessed, blessed, blessed’… And look, this song has so many streams… It’s almost at 100 million and a lot of people hated on this song cause this was my first international mix-vibe song.”

While the trip down Dancehall memory lane was good, the Waistline act maintained that she’s focused on exploring new genres, and has no interest in recreating those “classics”. It’s this mindset that paved the way for Beama, her new single with Brooklyn baddie Lola Brooke. 

Shenseea’s first attempt at rap came with Solo in 2018, but she felt she sucked at it. Integrating herself in American culture as a US resident softened her heart to try again.

“I think the influence of just being around so many Americans when you move into a new place, you’re gonna start adopting and stuff, and I think it has had an influence on my music that I’m putting out today which I think is fine because this is where I reside… You can still hear that I’m Jamaican.”

She continued, “I wanna explore a little bit more first. I wanna see where that new music that I’m about to put out takes me, and I know a lot of people are not gonna be used to it, but I’m an artist, I’m gonna make a lot of different vibes.”

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