Spice is known as the Queen of Dancehall, but she might also be queen of the comeback. The Jamaican singer and reality star, whose real name is Grace Hamilton, overcame childhood traumas including the death of her dad, the loss of her family home and, most recently, a remarkable recovery from a near-death experience.
“Growing up in Jamaica was hard for me,” she told me on this week’s “Renaissance Man.” “I came from humble beginnings. My slogan is ‘From homeless to greatness.’”
Spice means that literally. “When I was younger, I came home, my house was gone. I lost my home to fire,” she said. “I basically lost everything. I only had one pair of shoes and a uniform that I went to school with that day. That was all I was left with.”
Afterward, Spice and her family moved around, and she even had a brief stint living in London with her grandfather.
The turbulence, she said, “shaped me into the strong person that I am, because oftentimes, even now in my adult life, I’ve got to make sure I know how to make these noes into yeses … I’m self-made, so I don’t have a management team or anyone. I’m doing this as an independent woman right now.”
She’s also grateful for the push she got from her late father, who recognized her musical talent early on.
“My father died when I was only 9 years old,” she said. “He’s the reason I’m in music, because I remember before he died, he used to play Bob Marley in the house … He used to tell us to sing the songs and he would give us extra food on the plate. And I used to love my belly, so I used to sing for food.”
Her father was so dazzled by her voice, he’d tell everyone she was going to be a star. He was right. She’d go on to collaborate with dancehall artists like Sean Paul and Shaggy. In 2018, her mixtape “Captured” hit No. 1 on Billboard’s reggae album chart, and she got her first Grammy nomination in 2021.
Spice said of her father, “I remember him just speaking life into me.”
“He was very boastful about me to his friends. Like, everywhere he would take me, he would be [like], ‘My daughter can sing,’” she said, describing how she absorbed his confidence, even at a young age. As a tween, she started making waves in dancehall when legendary lyricist in the genre Bounty Killer pulled her up onstage. She was only 14.
“I feel like that was my moment … I started to speak lyrics and we started to go back and forth … And [Bounty Killer] looked at me and he said to me, ‘You are going to be the next queen of dance.’”
The legend of Spice was born. From there, she started battling with other artists, many of whom were grown men. After becoming a bona fide dancehall star, she crossed over into the reality realm, guest-starring on “Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta” in 2017. Producers were interested in adding her to the cast, but there was one issue.
“They were like, ‘You’re from Jamaica. How are you going to film?’” she recalled producers asking. Despite not knowing much about Atlanta, she told them she had already moved there. But, “I was staying in a hotel until I figured it out. So, I mean, that’s the only lie I told in that interview.”
It seems Spice always figures it out and comes out on top. In November, she nearly lost her life to sepsis. “It started eating my organs. It attacked my lungs. I couldn’t breathe on my own,” she said. Spice miraculously pulled through, and the ordeal changed her as a human.
“I literally was given a second chance to life, and I refer to my current life as my second life,” she said. “I’m more humble, I’m more forgiving. I have a calmer spirit.”
“I remember things that used to bother me in my first life,” she added, and “it doesn’t bother me now in my second life. The little things that I used to take for granted, I no longer take it for granted.”
𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆: nypost.com
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁 firstname.lastname@example.org