The stars align for Lila Iké. When it comes to the manifestation of musical purpose “Thy Will” be done
If Lila Iké was once considered a breakthrough artist, she no longer holds that title. Ike has transitioned into the status of an elite artist; being considered a leader in a new school of Reggae artists who have created their own lane, sound and style; which is becoming a genre in itself! With vocal cords that exude so much vibrato that it challenges human capabilities, and a sound that is uniquely her own, one would believe that she has a trained voice, but that is not the case. She has never had professional training, yet every note that she sings becomes a perfect melody. It is as if she is creating a mosaic masterpiece, with every note being a colorful, yet precise pitch. Bursting unto the music scene in 2016, Ike quickly rose to stardom with a trajectory that some would consider an overnight success. However, I learned during an in-depth conversation with the song bird that this was not exactly the case.
WHERE I’M COMING FROM:
Born Alecia Tameka Grey and hailing from Manchester, Jamaica, Lila Iké (pronounced Lee-lah Eye-kay) gained her music moniker in a very unconventional way. ‘Lila,’ which means ‘a blooming flower’ and is a play-off of her first name Alecia, was randomly coined by a friend and it stuck. However, the name ‘Ike’ belongs to a Nigerian musician by the name of Ikéchukwu, whom Lila met while in Kingston. Lila loved the name because it had a sense of divinity to it, as it means “God is powerful.” Lila told Ike that she was going to use his name, a declaration that Ikéchukwu did not believe, but Lila kept her word.
Ike’s introduction to music came from a melting pot that consists of religion, home and an amazing matriarch. “Church played a part, but my household was very musical. My mother listens to a lot of gospel music. She also listens to Reggae music and sometimes even Dancehall and Souls…you know a lot of Caribbean parents love some Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. So really my mother was my first introduction to music.” With her mother being a huge music fanatic, she was introduced to the music of legendary Reggae artiste Garnett Silk, whom she admires to this day.
It is not just her voice that gravitates an audience to this vocal queen; Lila Iké is anointed! Upon observation of her social media, or just a sheer moment of introduction, Ike immediately captivates you, as she exudes a deep sense of spirituality. I asked Ike when her spiritual walk began and she shared, “A lot of my family members were heavily in the church and my grandmother is a pastor of a Revival church. My mother was not necessarily into the Revivalism, so she sent my sister and I to praise and worship church or what my grandmother would call ‘white people church,’ but spirituality is something that always surrounded me. It was very important in my household that we exhibit some level of divinity.”
As Ike grew older, she delved deeper into Christianity, something that she says she never truly understood. She started listening to Reggae music, which exposed her to Rastafarianism, and she began reading, exploring the culture and learning the history. This led Lila Iké on a more spiritual walk, which she describes as a very personal journey. Ike believes that one does not need a church to gain spirituality. She believes it is about connecting with oneself. “It is a lifelong journey of learning myself and understanding who I am and why I am here.”
Though Lila Iké is very spiritual and grounded, I learned a lot about Alecia Grey, the person. I played a little game called “I Spy” to get to know the woman behind the artiste and learned that she is a very down to earth female , yet has a spicy side. Alecia admitted that she would spy on a boyfriend if the opportunity presented itself, she is all about girl power and would spy on a man on behalf of her friend. She might even look through an unlocked phone if she gets the chance, but she has no issues with going directly to the source if she has any questions.
Life is all about alignment, so when Lila Iké first met Reggae Star Protoje, she told him that he would hear her music one day. A year later, after hearing one of her songs, Protoje reached out to Ike and told her that she was right, he did hear her music and he was impressed; and the rest is history! In 2017, she signed with Protoje’s In.Digg.Nation label and in 2019, she toured Europe, including Rototom Sunsplash and Reggae Jam. Ike also opened for Protoje on his U.S. tour. When asked what the camaraderie between her and Protoje is like, she says “There is no ego involved in the relationship between Protoje and I. He is a very well-established artist whom I admire and I am signed to; he allows me to have full creative control and I love that! He is all about advancing the sound and we learn a lot from each other.”
As her musical pallet expanded, Ike was introduced to records from Michael Jackson and through his music came the realization that music can truly impact the world. All these elements influenced Ike to create a sound that is very eclectic. “My sound is like a brewed mixture of different sounds. I consider it an ancient, futuristic sound. I think because I have had to learn to sing on my own, it allowed me a sense of freedom. There is something special about being self-taught. You learned to bend the rules and not focus on the theoretical aspect of it that you would have to adhere to if you were taught music. There is freedom when you don’t know the rules.”
Ike also describes her musical content as millennial colonialism, where she discusses the struggles of her generation. Ike also hates being placed in a box; so much so, that her musical catalog is very diverse. Whether she is singing about a potential lover in “I Spy” or discussing societal issues in “Not Another Word,” Ike’s musical content knows no boundaries.
Most artists at the height of their careers, do not normally take the time out to sit back and reflect on the fact that their lives have changed dramatically. They are usually just going full steam ahead, with no time to be introspective. Ike has been working very hard since the debut of her first single “Biggest Fan” in 2017. Since then, she has consistently released music. Some of her hits include “Gotti Gotti” (2017), “Second Chance” (2018), “Where I’m Coming From” (2019), “Sweet Inspiration” (2019) and “I Spy” (2020), which is a huge fan favorite. Ike even appeared on the “Artist to Watch” list for BBC 1xtra Hot for 2020.
Ike can now add another gem to her crown. In 2020, Ike released her much-anticipated album “The Experience,” which was well received by the masses. Her smash single “Thy Will,” which features breakthrough artist Skillibeng on the remix version, is killing the airwaves and has garnered international attention. It is obvious, even to the untrained eye, that Lila Iké has made her mark and will continue to do so for years to come. I asked Ike if she has taken a moment to reflect on her journey and she responded “I do take the time to take it all in. I am about to be on the cover of CEM. My journey is special, really special.” Ike is set to work with some very amazing talents overseas that she has to keep on the hush for the moment, but it is very fair to say that Ike is no longer on the road to stardom. She has arrived!