Having been in the game since the late 80s, Macka Diamond knows more than a thing or two about evolving to stay relevant.
For instance, she was there during the mid-90s when dancehall riddims got faster, and said unlike some of her complaining peers, she adapted to the change.
Despite her tendency to pivot, the 52-year-old isn’t itching to be the hottest thing in the game anymore.
“A lot of people, like me, who have been there, we’re not looking for a break anymore; we’re just maintaining to let people see that we’re still doing work and in our lane,” the money-manifesting singjay said on Monday’s episode of Way Up With Angela Yee.
Recently recruiting a slew of creatives and industry professionals, her image and social media accounts have undergone some revamping, all in line with the current vision for her brand.
“I’m now penetrating on a new Macka – a grown woman but still sexy, so, I had to get a new team that saw the vision in me.”
She first emerged as Lady Charm before moving on to Lady Mackerel after counteracting Major Mackerel’s 1987 song Don Ban. Working with producer King Tubby, she said she was given an ultimatum to adopt the new moniker or else the record wouldn’t be released.
It’s one instance of desperation that plagued the early years of her musical journey. Macka would solicit dubplates from the top deejays at the time and sell them to sound systems. She’d reinvest the money in studio time, but struggled to find interested producers, though her father was reggae producer Phillip Munroe.
“I only had producers who felt sorry for me,” she revealed. “To get one that was serious and say, ‘Okay, I’m gonna help this girl, she’s talented’…that’s what took a lot of time, so, I had to do that.”
This meant paying to enter many stage shows for networking opportunities, even finding ways to get the mic and run on stage. The frequent commute saw her buying a small car, which soon turned into her changing room as she club-hopped, looking for chances to deejay before producers.
Her first single as Macka Diamond came in 2003 with Woman Wi Name, produced by Lady G. But it was the following year that she’d finally get her big break after deejay Black-er took her to producer Christopher Birch, for whom she recorded Done Already.
“When I heard it on the radio and I heard top producers start calling my phone, they never talk to me before,” she recalled. “When I heard those top producers calling, ‘Oh, you find it, you find it’, I was like okaaaaay. I remember I got a call from even Lady Saw. She was like, ‘You find it mumma’, I was like ohhhh.”
She holds no grudges against those who didn’t believe in her, and approaches the industry as a business.
Like several of her peers, she had aspirations of crossing over to the mainstream US market. Up to 2019, she said she was open to working with rapper Nicki Minaj after entering the ‘Megatron’ challenge with Chat Chat Chat.
“I used to talk a lot about crossing over and I wanna do stuff with the American artists and rappers, but I said there’s a lot of people. Everyone has their own journey. I’ve met couple people. I’ve met Foxy Brown along the way that wanted to do stuff – it never happened. I’ve met quite a few of them…but it just never happened. So, I’m just saying whatever happens, it’s never too old… Anything can happen… For me, the crossover was just to do something with someone, but not to be staying, trying to fight in a market that I’m not used to.”
Soon, Macka became one of the few female faces at the top of the genre, delivering hits like Lexus and Benz, Bun Him (with Black-er), Hoola Hoop, Mr.Teki Back and Dye Dye.
Nonetheless, her impact in The States is curry-stained into history with Cincinnati’s mayor declaring March 12 ‘Macka Diamond Day’ back in 2021.
Booked across the US and the Caribbean until September end, the Play Tune hitmaker is blissfully-busy, sweetened by an EP she’s currently recording.
Reflecting on her journey, she cited the most rewarding part as curating fun memories for people through her music, and, of course, attaining financial freedom.
“I feel good that the reward was there because my friends, people who used to laugh at me (and say) ‘you’re not gonna make it’… I feel good that now I’m standing in at least one of the top 20s or top whatever of Jamaica, and that’s the thing I can go and show them that I know this thing, I’ve learned the hard way, and I’m ready to continue and I’m one of the best.”