As if living up to the saying ‘anything you can do, I can do better’, the popular artist, born Charmaine Munroe, successfully carved out a niche for herself in dancehall. And though she hasn’t shied away from the raunchy route that many female dancehall stars have taken, Macka believes that playing the fellas at their own game is one way of avoiding the ‘slackness’ path.
“When I came out, the big thing at the time was female artists counteracting a male song,” Macka confirms. “That’s what I did and I think that was an easier way for us as female artists to be seen and heard. Everybody has to do what works for them, but doing it that way meant you didn’t necessarily have to be X-rated.”
With a passion for singing that was born in her school days, Macka says that music was “the career my mind was always leading me to.” Having gone on to establish herself as one of dancehall’s most formidable females, she reflects on some of her own musical inspirations.
“Back in the day, we had Mumma Nancy and Lady Ann,” says the Dye Dye hitmaker. “I used to look up to them and say, ‘wow, I’d love to be big like them one day.’”
Still, the songstress is honest about her place in the business, admitting that it is challenging being a woman in a male dominated industry.
“The amount of female deejays has increased over the years, but it’s still a male dominated business. “I doubt that will change because I don’t think it’s as easy for female deejays to maintain what is required for them to stand out.
“Dancehall is a rough kind of music and when it comes to doing shows, the energy that is required on stage, sometimes, as a woman, you don’t always want to put out that level of energy.
“Our bodies are different and we go through changes, and once you start going through those changes, you sometimes feel like you can’t be bothered to put out that type of energy! It is very hard sometimes.”
There is also the issue of female rivalry, which, rather than being a true reflection of disharmony between artists, is often nothing more than hype created by fans.
“I’m good with a lot of them,” Macka says of her female contemporaries. “I always try and support and encourage the younger female artists. But sometimes, you know how it goes – people will try to create competition amongst some of the female artists, whether the artists themselves want to be involved in that or not. But it’s all good.”
Music aside, Macka is the mother of a 13-year-old son and boasts skills including writing and acting. She has penned four books, including the 2007 novel, Bun Him and does a spot of acting in her spare time.
Asked which film star she would want to play her in a movie about her life, she laughs: “Any one of them – as long as dem ah star!”
With plans to expand her musical repertoire and branch into the world of one-drop reggae, Macka says there are two artists she has her sights set on collaborating with.
“I’m planning to do a one-drop album and I’d love to work with Tarrus Riley and Duane Stephenson. I’m hoping to start that very soon.”
Recently in the UK performing as part of the More Life music concert at London’s O2 Academy Brixton, the singer says she’s keen to perform on more big stages.
“Doing shows like the More Life concert is the kind of thing I want to do more of; big shows on that level – not just clubs, which I’ve done a lot of.
“I’ll be performing at a music festival in Montreal later this year with about 14 bands. That’s the kind of thing I want to master; performing at bigger concerts on bigger stages. I’m keen to do much more of that.”