” I am a Goddess and a rare commodity within the Dancehall family.”
The feisty colourful hardworking self proclaimed Dancehall Goddess, is a mother, a dancer and a social activist, who is swiftly making her presence felt in the Reggae Dancehall scene. Through the years she fell in love with Hip hop and later Dubstep which saw her music being heavily influenced by both genres but Reggae Dancehall is her first love and what keeps her grounded. Unathi Jacobs aka Lady Slice was born and raised in Gugulethu in the Western Cape, a mother of two, grew up with her parents and four siblings under the Rastafari household. Growing up listening to reggae music, it was natural for her to gravitate towards reggae and dancehall and has worked with the prominent Reggae Artists in South Africa like Daddy Spencer, Black Dillinger and Crosby
MzansiReggae got a chance to chat to her about all things Lady Slice and it go so.
Who is Unathi Lady Slice Jacobs? Unathi is first and foremost a Child of the Most High, I am a Mother of 2 beautiful kids, A Social Activist and Innovator. I am a Reggae Dancehall Artist. A Networker and Socialite. I am a Hardcore Softie and a Spiritual Gangster. I was coined “Slice” during my High School days of being mischievous, always being the girl rolling with guys I always had an Okapi pocket knife and I was named after one of the Street Fighter characters. The name then stuck with me throughout as even in my hood I’m popularly known as “Slice”. So when I started being active in Music I just added Lady hence Lady Slice. It identifies to me as a Mic operator because now I’m SLICing up Mics
You also call yourself the Dancehall Goddess? I live and breathe Dancehall Music and as a Dancer it is the one genre that I really connect with. I have a huge advantage of understanding the craft and have built a large national Network with a broad understanding of the genre from its history to what’s currently happening and that is something you would rarely find. I feel that I am in the Centre of the Dancehall Evolution in South Africa with many other key players and have had a direct influence in Dancers being recognized and acknowledged in the Cape Town Dancehall Scene. People tend to think the only element of Dancehall is Music but Dance is a huge part of the genre. So having said that Yes I am a Goddess and a rare commodity within the Dancehall family. I have more than 10 years doing what I do yet I still have big dreams and visions that are yet to be fulfilled and pretty much feel like I have not even started yet
How was it like growing up in a Rastafari household? My father and Mother were very active artists in the old days and at our family home in Gugulethu our backyard was a haven for musicians and Selektors in the late 70’s early 80’s. My grandma is well known by the Ancient Rasta’s as she used to open up her house to amaRasta and also her big back yard to allow the Night Dances (igigi) to take place until the next morning. So I grew up in a house filled with such activities and I always had a huge likening to Reggae Music growing up although exposed to other music as well. It came as no surprise that after dibbling and dabbling in other spaces this is where my heart and soul still resonates.
Do you find things have become easier for women in this cut throat industry over the years? Nothing is easy for anyone Yazi. You just have to work hard in general be it male or female. But having said that we are in a Male Dominated Industry unfortunately. I can’t just depend on the fact that I am a female and expect things to happen easily for me because of that. If you approach life with that mentally a rude awakening is waiting for you. Yes Most girls are dope but unfortunately most platforms are created by men and they tend to prioritize each other more times and they put each other on as opposed to women. Having said that I’ve also realized that some women are super lazy as well and do not necessary have the same push as their male counterparts but that still does not explain the huge imbalance when it comes to the movement in our country.
What has been your biggest challenge as a musician? My biggest challenge has been releasing my music and this is due to a number of reasons including being a perfectionist. Also another challenge I have had has been finding a producer to work with, I am currently taking what I like from different producers but I yearn to eventually find someone with whom I can collaborate with and finally pour out all these ideas and concepts I have in a collaborative project.
Cape Town artists have made a lot of headway in the international circuit, what do you think attributes to that? The fact that Cape Town City has an International Appeal as a City is a huge contributing factor not forgetting that also in Cape Town Reggae is very much inclined with the Faith of Rastafari which also appeals greatly to Internationals when they come here. We also cannot ignore that these artists who are making headway are actually really good deserving artists who have invested greatly to the genre. With that said our Local scene has taken a while to warm up to Dancehall despite there being a lot of groundwork done ages ago Nationally by iSkeem, Bongo Maffin, Boom Shaka, Tribe, Abashanti etc. years later you still find it hard for Reggae to be acknowledged and Jozi artists are close to the “Mainstream” circuit and understandably so their plight has been to get the same recognition and monetary value other genres have been reaping and that is a huge service to the National Reggae Community, one that cannot be matched.
Who is the Reggae Dancehall artist that you feel is promising right now in South Africa? Bliksemstraal and Anela Jahmena like the world ain’t even ready!
Who are the artists who inspire you? Yoh. So many hey today I can feel like Spice and tomorrow Queen Omega, Sevdaliza, Mahalia, like so many its hard to mention just one these ones are not even a tip of the iceberg. Too numerous to mention. I listen to a lot of music and all the elements play a different role to me as an artist
Who would be your Ultimate Collaboration artist? Locally and internationally? Locally – Rosa Ree, Assi, Thandiswa Mazwai, Ranto Bokgo, Busi, Mr Eazy, Priddy Ugly, Shayfeen to mention a few.
Internationally- Aurelia Dey, Lisa Mercedes, Popcaan,Queen Omega, Stefflon Don, Kelela to mention a few
What do you feel is the best song you’ve ever recorded and why? And can you remember the first time you wrote a song? No limitations. I feel is the latest best song I have recorded. The Single that is set to be released after Ghetto Queen. I cannot remember the first song I wrote, I used to freestyle on top of songs on cassettes decades ago.
Let’s talk about Ghetto Queen EP, How far are you with the release?
Firstly Ghetto Queen is not an EP but a single. My very 1st official single. The Ghetto Queen Single is going to be released this coming month of March. We are currently working on the screening of the music video taking place on the 2nd March at Langa Guga Sthebe
You had a really successful “call out” drive for Ghetto Queens to avail themselves for the shoot of the Video, How was the shoot and did you envision that you’ll get that kind of support?
The shoot was Nothing short of Amazing, Firstly it was raining hard but in between the rain the sun would come out and play allowing the shoot to continue all the locations Literally when we got to each location it rained hard then cleared and we were able to shoot. Felt that the rain was accompanying us uMayine. It was beautiful man, the ladies came out in numbers looking so beautiful and they were not even fazed by the rain. The ladies owned the concept of Ghetto Queen fully and they represented in all ways, just as I had envisioned. The campaign was greatly received and they all related to what the song stands for. To me I just feel blessed that they regard me so highly and extremely thankful to everyone who had an input in bringing this music video to life I’m still greatly humbled by their kindness, like people came through man. Much Love and Raspect to all the Ghetto Queens and Much Raspect to Lumko, Melak,Malkovic, Lwam (Mad About Rasta), Make up by Loffie,Sidi Safari, my girl Kanyi Mavi and the production team ka Motion Billy. Kuspaniwe this was a 0 budget video but all Stops were pulled and it’s an Amazing feeling just knowing there are people who see and resonate with my Vision, people who can dedicate their time, resources and energies towards my brand and work. It’s humbling kakhulu!
Lady Slice featured as the lead vixen on the music video for “Gyal ah Murder” by Pepsin & Fruity
You were part of the Dancehall crew Riddim Rascals, how did you getting into dancing and what happened to the crew?
I have always been a dancer from a very young age I was in the local street dance group where we would dance to Mango Groove and Sarafina, we also did traditional dancing. From then on I would dance at competitions, street shows and in Kwaito Crews. The Crew is no longer together the ladies had to focus on different ventures but we still dance together with some members. Riddim Rascals is a brand and it’s bigger than an individual it’s an entire Movement so it lives on and we will continue with the mission at hand promoting health and fitness for women through dance
South Africans are very conservative by nature so how did/do they react to your raunchy dance moves and do you think there’s a platform for “Dancehall Queens” in S.A given the nature of the moves? Are these the same Conservative South Africans who are currently taken by the naked Zodwa Wabantu? This is still the watered down version yaz that they are exposed too. Dancehall has different categories. You get straight Dancers like abo Majaivane those who follow some of the dance moves that have songs created after them e.g Willy Bounce, Scooby, Gully Creeper, Row the boat to mention a few then you get the DHQ style your 6:30’s, head-tops, drop dead, splits and different types of Wine_ING. For us we always get a positive, shocked response as most people can’t overlook the fitness element of being able to do what we do. There is definitely a huge platform for DHQ’s (Dancehall Queens) African Storm Sound System has proved that hands down we also aware that any Party scene gets turned up the minute there are Serious dancers and this is not even about the “raunchy” dance moves but the sight of dancers at a party.
You are passionate about social development, How did you get into it? I think it Started with seeing the hazards of drug abuse and youth not having anything constructive to do with their time. It is one of the greatest hazards in our communities as idle hands end up doing wrong things if not utilized positively. I had a taste of the dark side and knew that being in a prison cell is no joke, so I got together with some fellow creatives and we started a weekly event where we created themed events towards spreading positive messages #AntiCrime #AntiGangsterism etc., from then on the passion just grew and years later I took a course for Public Innovation and Social Development and the rest is history
What projects are you currently working on?
Such a broad question. So my 09:00- 17:00 is part of my social change work. I am doing coordination for a nonprofit organization that is based in my community (Gugulethu). I got head hunted almost 2 years ago to create, develop and run programs for the following Intervention (Youth that has been exposed to drug and alcohol abuse) and Prevention (Youth that has not been exposed to alcohol and drug abuse) young adults between 14-25 years old.
– In the process of creating a look book for Thick Madame (I can’t really say much as the project is in developmental stages it will cover different elements of being a big girl as well as advice and tips
– Flex and Sweat is getting re launched in April
– Also have some collaborative projects with different brands that will be announced soon ,the first being the @SocialNetwork Sessions we will be hosting
Tells us about the Thick Madame concept. How did it come about? Being a big girl myself it started with me just giving appreciation and recognition to thick women every Thursday calling it “Thick Madame Thursday” 5/6 years ago this was not really a trending thing, there was still a lot of body shaming and lack of confidence in so many Thick Beauties. I started getting so many inboxes and comments from these women and others whom were inspired from all over the country, others wanting to be featured on the day and just women inboxing to thank me for helping to boost their confidence. This is when I saw the true power of Social Media
I realized that there was a need for this concept to come to life and not just be a social media campaign and that is when myself and a close friend decided to organize the first Thick Madame Fashion show ekasi lethu. I have seen the outcomes in more ways than one, most specially when we were doing the Fashion Show that’s when I realized how thick women have been yearning for such platforms and recognition. Its great now that there are so many more movements that glorify the Thick Madame’s of the Continent
What changes have you seen from those that you are working with? People falling in love with their flaws and Perfect Imperfections, their confidence being boosted and them actually saying that, has humbled me and just emphasized that I am on the right track, If I am able to have that much of a positive influence on an individual My work is beyond blessed.
Are you married/Single/in a relationship? Single
How do you balance your Family life with other obligations – music, social activism and dancing? I have a great support system. I would not be able to do it alone; parenting is no child’s play
How many Siblings do you have and are you the oldest or youngest? I’m the eldest of 5 girls
Are they also in the entertainment industry? No, the one who comes after me used to be in a choir when she was in high school but stopped
How do your parents handle it when they see your performances? Or you would rather they not? My mom has seen my performance on T.V she knows I dance also as there was an advert on Dstv few years ago. She knows I do splits, headtops and ndiya Jaiva. She has not experienced my hardcore dancing though. I grew up very active and she was a teacher (Retired now), she would invite me to events at her school and hype me up to dance (Yeah, I was that kid). I think she has seen enough Mntu omdala lowa. LOL
Quick questions with the G. On what do you spend the most? My kids actually. Their clothes, gadgets, food and school expenses such as their transport and monthly excursions is what I spend the most on every month. For me its usually hair and nails. I buy 99% second hand clothes so I don’t spend much on that
Does competition kill you or excites you? It interests me. I’m wired weirdly
Make up or no makeup? Depends on the mood and occasion
Do you play any instruments? I started learning the piano but still need to go back for more lessons
Fav Books or Fav series Indaba My Children by Tat’uCredo, Series and Netflix Disjointed but is been discontinued last time I checked
City Life or Country Life? Work in the City to go relax in the Country. A healthy balance between the two is needed for sanity
When you are not working, what do you do to relax? I lock myself up, put in a movie with a nice high grade chalice and sleep afterwards. Or I link with my girls and we either go out or chill together
What can we expect from you this year?
Music, Announcements, Events and pure Awesomeness
What do you want to be remembered for? My heart. Being Real AF. My crazy Laughter. Bringing people together. The Unfuckwithable Bearded Beast. The Dancehall Goddess.
Any Shout Out?
Well. Shout out to all the Movers and Shakers of the Reggae Dancehall Movement in South Africa. The ones putting our country on the Map, those who are constantly developing and initiating ways of having the genre recognized. Also the supporters who never tire raining or sunshine. Ya’ll make it all worthwhile
Sausage Parties must fall. There are nuff females around the whole country who can feature in shows and having 1 female amongst 30 men is not the way to go. Can we all work towards creating a healthy balance for the longevity of our Movement as we all have equal roles to play.
The Screening of the Ghetto Queen Video will be at Langa Guga Sthebe on the 2nd of March. This will be part of the first @SocialNetwork event that we foresee as a monthly venture where I, the Dancehall Goddess will also give a full performance.
Also on the lineup will be Kanyi Mavi who recently released a single on Valentine’s day titled Umsindo. We have Geni Blakk a band from Ghana, Dj Grey and JJ of Kyd Sound system, Dj Ranger just to mention a few.
This will be an event filled with different activities including Music, Pop Up Runway, Market, Fashion Photography, Food, Exhibitions. The event will also be live screened and we hoping to create an urban chic culture for creatives and Businesses.