Shenseea the “ALPHA”

K N F
5 min readApr 3, 2022

I knew Shenseea was an “alpha” long before she declared it to the world in her first ever album: ALPHA released on March 11, 2022.

Image by Shenseea https://www.instagram.com/shenseea/?hl=en

I remember the exact moment in 2020 when she twisted her lips and vibrated her tongue on the insides of her oral cavity to only utter these words: “Nanny nevah guh a war fi mi siddung in a 2020 slavery” on the track “Rebel” — I knew she was the one.

The song was created in collaboration with Zum, a local producer who, at the time, aimed to increase the visibility of women dancehall artistes. The phrase translates to: “Nanny did not go to war for me to sit in slavery in 2020”. Nanny of the Maroons is one of Jamaica’s National Heroes and the only woman named by the Government of Jamaica for her display of exceptional military leadership. According to legend, she caught a bullet in her but for her people. The song itself is in reference to men who expect their woman to be totally and utterly subservient, even while said woman is literally taking care of them financially — housing, feeding and even clothing them. The nerve.

This “Rebel” song addresses so many issues that oftentimes arise when we discuss gender relations in the context of intimate relationships. It’s no surprise the song has amassed over 35 million views on YouTube. You can check out the video here.

Having always taken ownership of her sexuality, gender and dominance in the dancehall space as well as shaking up the Hip-hop scene, Shenseea shows no signs of stopping as she continues to do so on the track “Lick” featuring Megan Thee Stallion, track no. 5.

As a precursor to her ALPHA album release, the single “Lick” was released as the ultimate demonstration of what to expect. No doubt, the music video is visually stunning. And, I can’t help but categorize it as a sequel to Cardi B’s and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP”. I would love if we have a third music video with all three women, resulting in something akin to an “alpha universe” in the way the men do it with their TV series: Power and movies: Marvel. Which woman wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Epic.

Lyrically, responses have been divided. In Jamaica, many naysayers question the quality of the lyrics and significance of the song. They believe the song is essentially far too basic for a woman who has showcased her ability to freestyle at a moment’s notice — at least, that’s what they claim to be the issue. On a more sociological level, we can easily say the track had mixed reviews because the idea of pleasing a woman orally is very much a controversial topic. For many Jamaican men, performing oral sex on a woman is a highly frowned upon act, particularly because they find it demeaning. You can look, but you won’t find any evidence of a Jamaican man intentionally and publicly declaring his desire to selflessly please a woman orally; simply because it goes against their idea of what it means to be a masculine dominant man. Case in point, Jamaica’s self-declared “King of the Dancehall”, Beenie Man went as far as to declare that “nuh gyal cyah siddung pon mi head. if a gyal try dat she dead…” which translates to: “no woman cannot sit on my head. if she tries that she’s dead...”. I’ve not been able to locate an official copy of the song on google, but check out a copy of the song here. It’s an example of how many Jamaican men feel about performing oral sex on a woman.

No research currently exists, but based on my conversation with various working class Jamaican men, they full out don’t “consume” or they do so “under the table”. (You will never hear a Jamaican man say intentionally that he’s “ready to eat” or “wants to eat”. That’s because the consequence is akin to social suicide.) Can you imagine what happened when the music video for “Lick” was released. Many of these men must have experienced a sudden onset of cognitive dissonance, confusion and contention. It’s a toxic masculinity trait which I know can only be made “right” only when a popular and influential male dancehall artiste declares it so. This says a lot about our Jamaican men. Sometimes I think it must be really sad/hard being a Jamaican man. Hopefully some day in the (very near) future they’ll begin to experience calm and perhaps conformity to what is a global sexual norm.

Whilst the Jamaican populace was mostly outraged that “Lick” was the song used to debut her album — ranting and raving as they were, I must have listened to the song a hundred times. Nowadays, I randomly find myself breaking out in song, singing the chorus mindlessly:

(Mm-mm) Put yuh back in it
(Mm-mm) Put yuh back in it
(Mm-mm) Put yuh back in it
(Mm-mm) Just a little more
(Mm-mm) Put yuh back in it
(Mm-mm) Put yuh back in it
(Mm-mm) Put yuh back in it
(Mm-mm) Just a likkle more

Also of note, I listen to local radio on a regular and if my memory serves me correctly, I have yet to hear the song played on the airwaves. I’m sure it’s because it’s so explicit and making it radio-friendly would render the song absolutely senseless. It’s possibly a major error on a commercial level, but the album debuted at no. 1 on iTunes Top 100 Reggae Albums chart (a weekly chart which maps the popularity of “reggae” songs to US consumers), no. 2 on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart and no.3 on Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart (weekly ranking of new music sales), so I digress.

Consisting of 14 tracks and collaborations with the likes of Tyga, Beenie Man, 21 Savage, Offset and Megan Thee Stallion, it is clear Shenseea is proud of her “Alpha” project. She should be. And, while I strongly believe her catalogue of songs prior to this release answers the why she’s alpha, her most recent album “ALPHA” clearly aims to teach us what makes her alpha.

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K N F

Bsc Psychology and Sociology | MPhil Sociology | Experience Researcher