Jamaican singer/toaster Ventrice Morgan, aka Queen Ifrica, will no doubt go down in history as having provided one of the most sobering and controversial reggae hits of the late 2000s: the hard-hitting single "Daddy," which deals with child molestation and incest. Reggae has a long history of tackling heavy social and political topics, and Ifrica didn't hesitate to offer some no-nonsense social commentary when she co-wrote and recorded "Daddy." Despite the song's disturbing subject matter, it was a major hit in both Jamaica and England (which has long had a large Afro-Caribbean population and is second only to Jamaica as the world's largest reggae market). Ifrica, however, was making a name for herself in reggae long before the release of "Daddy," and she has been making her mark as a singer who is also a dancehall toaster.
Much like certain R&B vocalists who can rap as proficiently as they sing, Ifrica is both a proficient singer and a proficient toaster -- and like some of the neo-soul singers who have been affected by both classic soul and hip-hop, Ifrica has been greatly influenced by reggae's classic era (the '60s and '70s) but also has a strong appreciation of the more modern dancehall recordings of the '90s and 2000s. Ifrica, however, has steered clear of the hedonism, gun talk, and gangsta imagery that have been common in dancehall; her more sociopolitical lyrics have reflected her Rastafarian beliefs, although she has also performed her share of lovers rock (reggae that has romantic lyrics rather than sociopolitical or spiritual lyrics).
Because male performers have outnumbered female performers in reggae (both singing and toasting), the list of female artists that Ifrica is typically compared to is a fairly short one. She has often been compared to Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths, and Judy Mowatt, all of whom were members of the I-Threes (Bob Marley & the Wailers' backup singers) in the 1970s but have also had careers as solo artists; other frequent comparisons have included Carlene Davis and Sister Carol. But even though Griffiths, Mowatt, and Rita Marley have influenced her, Ifrica has a gruffer vocal style -- and that gruffness obviously comes from her interest in dancehall.
Born in Montego Bay on March 25, 1975, Ifrica is the daughter of Derrick Morgan (who was a major ska star in the early to mid-'60s and went on to become an important figure in rocksteady and early reggae). Ifrica seriously started to pursue a career in reggae in the mid-'90s, and in 1999, she recorded the single "Royal Love" for the Flames label. Ifrica became much better known in the 2000s, when she recorded for various independent labels and her singles "Just My Bredrin," "Randy," and "Below the Waist" became hits in Jamaica. In 2009, Ifrica's album Montego Bay (which included "Daddy" and the hit "Streets Are Bloody," a poignant commentary on violent crime in Jamaica) was released in the United States by the well-known VP Records label. ~ Alex Henderson