‘I Don’t Put That Energy Out No More’: HoodCelebrityy on Claiming Her Spot As the ‘Champion’ of Dancehall Music and What It Takes to Successfully Crossover

HoodCelebrityy‘s music mission goes beyond relying on dropping songs with inane-yet-catchy hooks over dope beats. With tracks like “So Pretty,” “Walking Trophy,” and “Island Girls,” she’s here to spread good vibes and remind women of their inner strength and power through her music as well.

HoodCelebrityy. (Photo: @hoodcelebrityy/Instagram)

The Jamaica-born, New York-raised dancehall artist, born Tina Pinnock, combines her influences from growing up in both places with lyrics that the ladies can feel good about singing along with to create her unique “trap reggae” sound, as heard in the aforementioned songs as well as her latest single, “Champion.”

After moving to the Bronx from her hometown of Portmore, Jamaica, at the age of 12, the “Walking Trophy” singer gained attention after her former friend Cardi B shared a video of her rapping on social media. The two released a collaboration, “Island Girls,” in 2017, and HoodCelebrityy also was featured on French Montana’s “Famous” remix. She has been grinding to continue her rise to the top of the charts since.

The “Bum Pon It” artist is excited to finally have her music video for “Champion” out in the world two years after writing the song. She spoke with Atlanta Black Star about her inspiration behind the track, her motivation to spread female empowerment through her music, and some must-see spots and must-try dishes on any visit to Jamaica.

Can you talk to me a little bit about how you came up with your trap reggae style?

Me being born in Jamaica, I left Jamaica when I was 12, moved to the Bronx. So, I still have the reggae dance soul in me, where growing up in the Bronx, we listened to hip-hop. All types of music, but definitely listened to hip-hop and stuff like that. So, I just really feel like it merged a lot into my music and just being around that environment, being around that energy, that vibe. So, I’m like, why not put my accent and my culture of music on hip-hop beats?

Let’s talk about your single “Champion.” I watched the video, listened to the song. It was really great. Really inspirational. … .How did you come up with the lyrics and the concept?

So “Champion,” a lot of people who really don’t know, I recorded “Champion” two years ago. I was then supposed to drop the record, but due to the whole COVID situation, I feel like it was such a powerful record that I didn’t want to drop it when people wouldn’t get to really hear everything, or really get to feel the record and be outside performing it.

But just me feeling really like a champion, feeling like I overcame everything that came in my life to destroy me and really being in my bag. “Champion” is one of those records, I wrote the record just being in my bag like I’m unstoppable. Like I’m really a champion, anything I put my mind to, I could really do it. And that’s what empowered me to write the record.

HoodCelebrityy is ready to show the world she’s a champion. @hoodcelebrityy/Instagram

In the video, you also included images of a nurse who was working in COVID, had a mask on. … Why was that important to have in the video?

My aunt works in the hospital, so that really right there. I remember during COVID I was telling her, “Yo, you a champion.” Everybody was scared to be outside, much less to be working in the hospital. So, I feel like for people who work in the hospital, you got to really show that love and that respect, because they’re really champions. They’re really out here risking their life every day. It was only right to put that in the video.

It’s a lot. Especially them going to work in the beginning of COVID when everyone was scared, you know what I mean? When it was no vaccine when it was no nothing. People didn’t know what was going on, what caused COVID. Even though we still don’t really know what’s going on, but they have the vaccine out. Everything is getting a little bit better, but those people definitely champions. They did something a lot of people don’t have the balls to do.

I also checked out your video for “So Pretty,” your collab with Kash Doll. How did that come about? I love the concept of the video, how you included women of all different ethnicities and backgrounds.

Working with Kash Doll was super easy. Sometimes, working with a lot of celebrities, sometimes it don’t go that easy because … we’re never on time, we never prepared, most of the time. But working with Kash Doll was easy. She was so sweet. She’s just like me. She’s very open, she just really act like a regular chick from the block. And that’s what made me really enjoy working with her because I felt like I was able to be myself and she was able to be herself. So, it was pretty easy. We knocked the video out so quick.

Do you feel like you faced any unique challenges on your journey to success as a female dancehall artist?

I used to feel like I faced a lot of situations as an artist who was just like looking at stuff like, “Damn, why me?” But as a woman in general, we go through a lot of stuff that guys don’t go through. You know what I mean? And being a female, we go through a lot in general.

So I used to look at it before like, “Damn, is this really just happening to me?” Because the thing is, this business is really in some people’s eyes it’s just a male-dominated industry. But that’s really not true, because woman right now is really taking over. And I feel like the issue that I was facing when I first started, and even sometimes now, was just a lot of dudes are not used to women being bosses. They don’t see us as being a boss, even though we are bosses, but they don’t see us as being a boss.

And a lot of dudes can’t take a female giving them orders. Even if it’s not in a disrespectful way, of course not, but just a woman telling you what to do is kind of like, “Ugh.” And just being around certain dudes that really think they know everything, and we as women don’t know nothing. But before I used to think it’s just me going through that, but I see that a lot of females go through it. And it is what it is, you just got to keep pushing and keep going and keep being a boss.

Yeah, absolutely. It’s much easier for women to become labeled as difficult.

Oh yeah. Definitely. When you start setting rules and things you want to get done, they definitely will tell you that you’re difficult, you’re being a b—h, you’re an a–hole, you’s just on your period, you’re being a brat. And those are the words in the stuff they use to control the narrative.

A lot of your music is, speaking of women and the things that we go through, it’s very empowering to women. … Do you feel like in this age of social media and seeing what we all see on social media, that the need for that positive reinforcement is that much higher?

Yeah, definitely. But for me, I could do as much, by myself at least, but I try my best to put that energy out there and to let women know and to empower women. But like I said, social media and this new era, this new generation is just corrupt. So, people like the negative s–t, whether you believe it or not. They like that negative s–t, so sometimes putting out the positive things takes a little while to get that recognition, because people like chaos, and people like negative stuff. You’d be surprised, but I don’t let that stop me from doing what I do. I feel like God blessed me with the talent to do that. And if I wasn’t doing that, I would feel like I’m cheating him, you know? And he wouldn’t be blessing me as much as he’s blessing me now.

Do you feel like there’s any more of a challenge when reggae and dancehall artists are trying to kind of break through in the American music industry specifically? Do you feel like it’s harder than other genres?

No, not really. I used to feel like that, but not really. I feel like once you make good music and people really love it — I love music. When I say music, I don’t really put a genre on anything. I listen to all genre types of music. I listen to Spanish music, I listen to jazz, I listen to blues. I listen to every type of music. I listen to rock and roll, little bit of punk rock, I listened to everything, hip-hop, R&B. So, I don’t put that energy out no more. … So as long as you’re making great music, I feel like it doesn’t matter what genre of music you’re doing.

The music will speak for itself every time.

Correct. Look at Bob Marley: The world listened to his music. They never put him in a genre like, “Oh, this is reggae. This is different.” People just love his music. He’s putting that energy out there. When music hits you, you can’t stop it. I have people that I don’t really dig their personality and who they are and how they go about certain things, but I love their music. And if I love your music, I listen to it. I don’t care.

So it’s easier for you to separate the art from the artist, so to speak?

Correct, correct. Because good music is just good music.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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