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Focused Shenseea is Ready to Shine

From the sunny coasts of Jamaica, Shenseea is breaking boundaries and bringing her Dancehall, feel-good vibes, globally.

Shenseea describes her childhood personality as bossy, stubborn, and focused. Years later, these traits would catapult the 25-year-old entertainer from local Jamaican darling to international rising star, captivating audiences across the globe.

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Thinking of Jamaica, it’s easy to be transported to clear blue waters and palm trees. The tropical oasis is known for free and loving vibes felt throughout the island, welcoming and accepting of all: tourists and its residents alike. “Dancehall means you can be free,” says a proud Shenseea, reflecting on the musical inspiration she draws from her cultural roots. “It’s raunchy, but it’s love. We [dancehall artists] try to spread it across the world. Everywhere we go, people enjoy it because of the energy. Jamaica’s such a free place.”

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As a curious youth, Shenseea, born Chinsea Linda Lee, found expression through art, drawing, and painting anything that inspired her. If not lost in a world of imagination, she’d spend her afternoons by the river with friends, bird hunting, playing cricket or football, riding her bicycle, or reading (a pastime she still enjoys).

Constantly moving between family homes while her single mother worked overnight for weeks at a time, Shenseea’s upbringing was far from consistent. She shuffled between aunts and uncles and occasionally lived alone. However, music always played through the halls of the homes she lived in. “My aunt put music on me because while growing up with her, in the earliest stages of my life, from four to thirteen, she used to blast her music. Almost every single day in the house as a kid. It was so loud, I had no choice but to listen,” she recalls, crediting her aunt for her introduction to melodies.  From very early on, the ambitious young talent would discover her passion for the art and set her mind on nothing other than becoming an artist.

Like many musicians that came before her, she had to face the obstacle of her family’s judgment. Being a dancehall sensation was not a dream shared by her family, who often pushed her towards other stable careers. “My mom wanted me to become a flight attendant, and my aunt wanted me to become a doctor. She started calling me Dr. Lee,” she says, laughing as she recollects. “But I wanted to become an international artist. Music was the only thing I aspired to do,” she gleefully boasts, “and this is my dream, and that’s why I’m so motivated and determined.”

However, it wouldn’t be until the birth of her son, Rajeiro, that Shenseea pushed everyone else’s opinions aside and motivated herself to pursue becoming an artist. “My life changed after becoming a mother. I was so broke. I had, like, a thousand US dollars to my name with a newborn baby, as a single mom,” she remembers. “I knew I had to change not only for myself now, but for my son, he’s my everything.”

So, for many late nights after putting her son to bed, Shenseea would spend hours writing in hopes of creating verses that made sense. “I started writing ciphers. One line turned to two…turned to a paragraph…turned into a whole song without a chorus… I was developing my writing skills,” she recalls. And this practice would prove to be rewarding. After being encouraged by an industry mate to pursue dancehall because of her raspy, captivating voice, Shenseea jumped at the opportunity to contribute to her vibrant culture, a sound she describes as “love, full of energy and good chaos.”

Shenseea spent her days working as a bottle and promo girl across parties on the island. Through a coworker, she was introduced to Rudolph Brown (known as Romeich Major) of Romeich Entertainment, a burgeoning promoter for significant events and stylist to some of Jamaica’s promising acts. After taking the meeting, Shenseea recalls they immediately clicked and subsequently signed a management deal, joining his music roster as his first female artist.  That night he gave her a beat to work with, and she stayed up until 5 am writing a song. The fruits of that session eventually became her first produced single under her new team titled, “Jiggle Jiggle,” released the summer of 2016.

Shortly after, Shenseea was working as a promo girl at Dream Weekend when the event’s DJ queued up her song. Unbeknownst that the emerging artist was working amongst them, the raving crowd of partygoers danced in excitement as the DJ shouted her out. “Nobody knew who I was, what I looked like. I was there serving Tommy Lee [renowned Jamaican artist, Tommy Lee Sparta] and other artists, and MY music was playing.” At that moment, she realized her future was about to take flight. This kind of night would happen often, and after people started recognizing her while working, she quit her stable job as a promo girl for parties and took on a new full-time gig: promoting Shenseea, the artist.

After a series of local hits, Shenseea teamed up with dancehall maven Vybez Kartel on “Loodi.” The raunchy anthem would pique the interest of the US record label, Interscope Records, which would sign her under the imprint, “Rich Immigrant.” The deal made her the first Jamaican artist to sign to the 32-year-old label. It would also pave the way for her Stateside debut, alongside rapper Tyga in the 2019 summer smash, “Blessed.”

The following years after signing, Shenseea would release over 30 songs across multiple genres. In addition, the singer racked up a considerable number of collaborations, including features that would land her recognition at the 64th Grammy Awards; a nomination for ‘album of the year,’ for her dual features on Kanye West’s Donda, and by virtue, naming her a Grammy participant for her work on Masego’s EP, Studying Abroad, which was nominated for ‘progressive R&B album’ and Major Lazor’s Music is a Weapon (Reloaded) for ‘best dance/electronic album.’

Recollecting the day she received the call about becoming a Grammy nominee, Shenseea explains that she was in midst of recovering at home after being diagnosed with a hematoma. Her physician instructed the busy artist to remain on bed rest for the following two weeks, leaving her feeling helpless and forced to stay put. “I was elated when my co-manager Dizzy called me and told me I’ve been nominated for the Grammy’s. I felt like the news came at the right time. It gave me purpose again. It gave me motivation,” she recalls. “And it was before I released MY album. I’ve been busy putting in work and dedication to other people’s work as well, trying to get out there before I even put my project out there…I feel like my whole story is just ordained. You know, it’s my destiny,” she adds.

For the past two years, Shenseea has been writing and rewriting songs to add to her arsenal in preparation for her debut album.

“The original name that I had for my first album was Eleanor because I based it off my mom. But then I noticed that every single time I’m about to talk about my album, there is a complete sadness coming over me because it’s my late mom,” she explains. “So, I changed it. I don’t even want to remind myself of this tragedy that happened to me over and over while this is my first album that I’m gonna have to be talking about for a very long time.”

Representative of her strong, dominant, and fierce personality, the singer came up with a new title for her inaugural album: Alpha. Determined not to confine herself to a singular genre, the project, released in March of 2022, is meant to be an introduction to the multifaceted artist. The compilation showcases Shenseea’s versatility, exploring pop, dancehall, reggae, r&b and rap. Her voice effortlessly rides on catchy melodies, switching between singing and rapping, accompanied by features from industry hitmakers such as Meghan thee Stallion, Offset of the Migos, and 21 Savage. The network of co-signs is not one to gloss over lightly but as an indicator of the widespread popularity of her sound amongst a global audience and a crossover formula, seemingly in good standing.

At the core of her rising career, the most valued things in the artist’s life are her love for her son and God. Performing in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Billboard’s Music Con in Las Vegas, her son, Rajeiro can be found in the corner of the crowd, standing by her aunt, in awe of his mother’s talents. “Being a mother doesn’t influence how I make my music. As long as I’m not portraying myself in a way where he’s embarrassed, then that’s completely fine,” she says of her mature craft. “And if he tells me ‘Mom, I don’t like this,’ that’s fine as well. He supports me so much.”

As for spirituality, “I feel like what’s meant for you will always be for you,” she says with conviction. “I remain humble after having so much success in my career because I’m close to God.”

The journey for Shenseea is far from ending as she excitedly and proudly walks in her light, taking gems from her process and turning her obstacles into successes. Her optimism beams across anyone who meets her, and while the world is just getting to know the true enamor that is Shenseea, she keeps her humility, lighthearted spirit, and gratitude. “I’m just so obsessed with my career. It’s like, I find no time. If I’m not singing, I’m still doing something that contributes to my growth. And I love that.”