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Photo by Nickii Kane.

Lila Iké Is Blooming Into the Powerful New Voice of Jamaican Music

We chat with the rising singer on her journey to stardom and her new music video for "Where I'm Coming From."

It's the closing set at BRIC's Celebrate Brooklyn during a summer evening in Prospect Park. Jamaica's very own Protoje pauses to give Sevana and Lila Iké, two members of his new collective, In.Digg.Nation, their moment to shine on stage.

Iké, born Alecia Grey, shows herself to be a force and light as she dons an all-white suit with her curly afro roaming freely. Not introducing herself until she concludes, there's a clear energy shift in the park as her vibrato nods to the reggae of the past.

Just a few days later, she visits the OkayAfrica offices and her chill demeanor and casual threads beg the question of how she could make sense of who she blooms into when it's time to perform. "I don't even know myself on stage, to be honest," she says. "I don't even think it's 100 percent me."

Sharing how she came to settle into her stage name, she notes that Lila was coined from pet names folks called her from her first name, Alecia. Iké, on the other hand, is usually short for the Nigerian name Ikechukwu in the Igbo language. She also came across an Ikechukwu when she moved to Kingston who's mind, she says, was one to remember. Meaning "God is powerful" or "power of God," it struck her that names such as that can be since she's been surrounded by Johns, Pauls or Marks.

Photo by Nickii Kane.

"I wanted to use Ikechukwu as my stage name," she explains. "I remember I did my very first performance, introduced myself as such and people were calling me all sorts of things and I knew it wasn't going to work. My friend later suggested Lila Ike and I could see it on an album cover. I recently found out that Lila means lilac in Italian and it also means 'the everblooming flower' or 'to bloom.' Words are powerful—I really believe music is the power of God and I wanted to attribute that to my music and my whole being."

Iké's newest music video "Where I'm Coming From" recently dropped and both the song and visual is an ode to her journey from her neighborhood of Christiana in Manchester, Jamaica, to Kingston. With the legacy of Ijahman Levi and Garnett Silk, two hometown heroes, behind her—she's well on her way to be the new face of not only her people, but reggae music, to the world. For Iké, "Where I'm Coming From" is also her way of encouraging people to stay working on themselves and their goals—and to be real.

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(Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

John Boyega and Letitia Wright to Star In Upcoming BBC Anthology Series Set in London's West Indian Community

"Small Axe," from Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen is currently in production and will also premiere on Amazon in the US.

John Boyega and Letitia Wright are set to star alongside one another in yet another exciting new project.

The actors will lead the cast of Oscar-winning, Widows and 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen's upcoming anthology series Small Axe, which will appear on BBC in the UK and on Amazon in the US, reports Variety.

The six-part series, which is currently in production in London, will tell five unique stories centering on London's West Indian community. The title itself, references a Jamaican proverb that states: "If you are the big tree, we are the small axe," as well as the 1973 Bob Marley song by the same name.

McQueen, who is also executive producer on the series, spoke about the importance of examining the experiences of the Windrush Generation and Black British people as a whole, as quoted in Variety:

I felt these stories needed to be shared," said McQueen, who will also exec produce. "I wanted to relive, reevaluate and investigate the journeys that my parents and the first generation of West Indians went on to deliver me here today calling myself a black British person. What's important about our stories is that they are local but at the same time global.
I think audiences will identify with the trials, tribulations and joy of our characters as well as reflecting on the present environment in which we find ourselves," McQueen added. "The dynamic nature of the series allows us to confront injustice in the face of adversity.

The announcement comes days after the second annual Windrush Day on June 22, which marked the 71st anniversary of the arrival of the first Caribbean immigrants to the UK.

The upcoming series will also star Malachi Kirby, Shaun Parkes, Rochenda Sandall, Alex Jennings and Jack Lowden.

Last November, it was announced that Boyega and Wright, the 2019 winner of the BAFTA Rising Star Award, would star together in the upcoming sci-fi love story Hold Back the Stars.

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Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Is Set To Play a Noteworthy Jamaican Historical Figure in Period Drama 'Seacole'

The South African-British actress will star as pioneering Jamaican nurse, Mary Seacole, in the film.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw continues to take on roles of black women in history we need to know about on the big screen.

The South African-British actress is set to play pioneering Jamaican nurse Mary Seacole in a period drama that's in the works under producer Billy Peterson's new production banner, Racing Green Pictures, Variety reports.

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Photo still courtesy of LargeUp.

Walshy Fire Links Up with Mr Eazi & Kranium In the Colorful Music Video for 'Call Me'

Get into the latest single off of Walshy Fire's upcoming project, "Abeng."

Walshy Fire has been on a roll, giving us a glimpse of what we can expect from his new album Abeng with "No Negative Vibes" and "Round of Applause." Now, the Jamaican-born DJ enlists Mr Eazi and Kranium for another cross-cultural collab with his latest single, "Call Me."

The music video, directed by Jocelyn Cooper, has also dropped and is a colorful affair—nodding to both the Ghanaian and Rastafarian flags with the monochrome scenes of yellow, green and red.

"This is basically a song for the ladies. It took me about three years to put it together. Of the songs on the album, I'm most proud of this one," Walshy Fire says to Billboard. "I think this is going to be one of the biggest songs I've ever done. We had so much fun on the video shoot. I haven't seen a video connect to a song [lyrically] in such a way in a long time and I'm extremely proud of how it came out."

Watch "Call Me" below.

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