Since the Queen of Dancehall graced us with her presence in 1994 her career has gone from strength to strength. As her star status is evermore elevated, her demeanour has become more gracious and mature and she’s not afraid to talk honestly about the trials and tribulations that have made her more of a woman.
Grammy Award winning artist Lady Saw, born Marion Hall, sounds sweet and gracious but she damn well knows her place in the dancehall scene and doesn’t feel no way about saying it either. “The crown is forever mine” says Lady Saw on her royal status. “I got no competition. The people, they don’t want another Lady Saw.”
In retrospect it seems as though she could be right. What Lil’ Kim is to hip hop is what Lady Saw is to dancehall and it appears hard to imagine anyone else being as no-nonsense about their sexual freedom as she is. Past albums have spawned lyrics such as ‘Hot gal wi waan man fi grease wi, slip it in sometime yuh tease mi,’ to ‘You put ring pun di pussy, bling pun di pussy, man say it fat you get bling pun di pussy’. So it had to be asked whether she was proud of this display of sexual prowess. “When I started out, Derrick Barnett and Castro Brown were my first producers. They would bring me Mary J Blige tracks like Sweet Thing. It wasn’t taking me where I wanted to go. Then I noticed the men were talking about vagina this and vagina that. I thought let me sing about sex in a way that would make people laugh.’ “I’m kind of like a sex instructor. I captivate my audience, telling them step by step what to do,” she says proudly.
Her latest album Walk Out sees Lady Saw take on a less forward approach and the first single on the album is deep and personal to her. The new single No Less Then A Woman is a rocking ballad about her infertility. Having suffered two miscarriages in the past and been subject to lyrical attack from fellow MC’s who questioned how she can she be the mother of dancehall ‘when she don’t have no kids’, Lady Saw felt the need to bite back on this track.
“People feel if you can’t breed or get pregnant, then you must not be a real woman.”
As she thinks about the criticism she’s endured she says with a vengeance, “All the other fools thinking shit, how we gonna say something now. They are wandering what’s next.”
Walk Out is the last album to be released from her long-term relationship with VP records, but it is clear that it’s not the end of her musical career. “I’m at a place I’m comfortable with. I’m recognized now. I get offers to work with big artists. I know I can go further. I’ve still got talent I’m a good writer and a good artist.”
She plans to write and produce for other artists now in the dancehall arena, and is confident that she can give them everything they need to succeed. Despite being so self-assured and confident she says of her future “that’s up to God.”
Words by Selina Campbell