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Grace Latoya Hamilton (born 6 August 1982), known professionally as Spice, is a Jamaican dancehall recording artist, singer and songwriter. Beginning her career in the early 2000s, she had her first major success with the controversial single "Romping Shop" with Vybz Kartel in 2009.Spice's debut EP So Mi Like It, which included the hit single of the same name, was released in 2014 through VP Records. In 2018, she joined the cast of VH1's reality television series Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. Later that year, she released her first full-length project, a mixtape titled Captured, which debuted at number one on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart.
Early life Grace Latoya Hamilton was born at the Spanish Town Hospital in St. Catherine, Jamaica and raised in Portmore. Her father died when she was nine years old. As a child, she used to attend her church regularly and lead the choir. She had spent part of her childhood living with her grandparents in Finsbury Park, London, where she also attended school before returning to Jamaica. While a student in St. Catherine High School, she frequently participated in the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) festival in the music category and earned several medals throughout the years. Although she wanted to become a chartered accountant, she decided to pursue a music career. Following that, she enrolled at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts to study music and drama. She then began experimenting with dancehall music and soon after generated interest in her community with her deejaying abilities at local stage shows.Career2000–2007: Career beginningsSpice made her debut when she was given the opportunity to perform at the annual dancehall festival Sting in 2000. It was her first major appearance on a stage show and she earned several encores from the crowd. During this early stage of her career, Spice went on to gain a reputation for her performing abilities, despite not having any hit record.
While on tour in the UK, Spice earned the attention of Baby Cham, who later introduced her to producer Dave Kelly. From there, she released a string of singles for Kelly's record label Madhouse Records, including her first single for Madhouse entitled "Complain (Mi Gone)", then followed by her singles on the Bad Gal riddim, "Right There (Fix Me Good)" featuring Toi and "Hype". At that time, she was featured on Jimmy Cliff's "I Want I Do I Get" from his album Black Magic (2004) and on Beenie Man's "Hot" from his album Concept of Life (2006). For her first hit single, Spice versioned the popular Eighty Five riddim to create "Fight Over Man", which became popular in the dancehall.2008–2012: Breakthrough and continued successIn late 2008, Spice collaborated with fellow dancehall artist Vybz Kartel on the single "Romping Shop", which samples "Miss Independent" by Ne-Yo. The song quickly achieved international recognition, receiving immense rotation on mainstream urban stations in the US. "Romping Shop" spent 15 weeks on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, peaking at number 76. Shortly after its release, the song was banned by the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation due to its explicit lyrical content. "Romping Shop" was ranked at number 9 on both Pitchfork's list of the "50 Best Dancehall Songs of All Time" and Billboard's "12 Best Dancehall & Reggaeton Choruses of the 21st Century".
In 2009, Spice received the Excellence in Music and Entertainment (EME) Award for "Female Deejay of the Year". At the Youth View Awards in Jamaica, she won three awards: "Best Female Performer", "Favourite Local Female Artiste" and "Young, Hot & Hype Female". In July 2009, she signed to VP Records for a multi-album deal. She again received the "Female Deejay of the Year" award at the 2010 EME Awards. Her single "Slim vs. Fluffy" featuring dancehall artist Pamputtae peaked at number 1 on the Canadian Dancehall/Reggae Singles charts. That year she also released her single "Jim Screechie". In 2011, Spice was featured on Gappy Ranks's "Whatever We Like", released as a bonus track on his album Thanks & Praise. She later released a remix for her song "Fun" featuring rapper Missy Elliott and collaborated with Mýa on the single "Take Him Out" from Mýa's sixth album K.I.S.S. (Keep It Sexy & Simple). Spice also performed the song with Mýa at Reggae Sumfest that year. A music video for "Take Him Out" was released in 2012.2013–2017: So Mi Like It and other projectsSpice performing at Reggae Sumfest 2013In October 2013, Spice released her single "So Mi Like It", which garnered worldwide recognition despite not entering any official charts.
The song's accompanying music video has received over 80 million views on Vevo, becoming the most viewed music video by a Jamaican female artist. The song was included in the Ragga Ragga Ragga 2014 compilation album, alongside her singles "Go Go" and "All The Way" with Elephant Man. A remix of "So Mi Like It" featuring rapper Busta Rhymes was later released on his mixtape Catastrophic 2.Spice starred as Candy in her first theatrical feature film "Destiny", which was released on 2 April 2014. She also recorded the song "No Push Over" for the film's soundtrack. Her debut extended play So Mi Like It, named after the single of the same name, was released through VP Records on 2 December 2014. It debuted at number 14 on the Billboard Top Reggae Albums chart. The EP features five songs, including her hits "So Mi Like It" and "Conjugal Visit" featuring Vybz Kartel. The music video for "Conjugal Visit" garnered over 2 million views on WorldStarHipHop within one day. The same month, she was featured along with soca artist Bunji Garlin on rapper ASAP Ferg's song "Jolly" from his mixtape Ferg Forever. In May 2015, Spice released her single "Needle Eye", which serves as a tribute to Shabba Ranks's 1987 single of the same name.In May 2016, Spice was featured alongside Jeremih on Kid Ink's single "Nasty".
The next month, she released her single "Indicator", based on a dance move of the same name. For 2016's Red Bull Culture Clash, Spice joined forces with Mixpak and won the clash over Wiz Khalifa & Taylor Gang and others. At the MOBO Awards, Spice was the only female nominated for "Best Reggae Act" and the first female dancehall artist ever nominated in this category.In April 2017, Spice released her single "Sheet". In June 2017, she appeared on a remix of Jax Jones's "You Don't Know Me". In August 2017, she was featured alongside Sean Kingston and Lady Leshurr on Charlie Sloth's "I Can Do" from his album The Plug.2018–present: Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta and CapturedIn 2018, Spice joined the cast of VH1's reality TV show Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. That year, Spice revealed that she is in a legal dispute with VP Records over the release of her debut album. Her debut mixtape, Captured, which is also her first full-length release, was self-released on 2 November 2018. The mixtape debuted at number one on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart. Its lead single "Black Hypocrisy", which addresses the issue of colorism, also debuted at number one on the Reggae Digital Song Sales chart.
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