Today brought incredibly sad news. Danish dancehall queen Natasja Saad has died in a car crash in Jamaica.
A fixture in Danish hip hop, reggae and dancehall since the late eighties, when she performed on stage for the first time, she had both an astonishing talent and true star quality. I first saw her on stage in 1989, opening for Ice-T and the Rhyme Syndicate at the now long gone, classic venue Saga in Copenhagen. Perky and energetic, she already had her tight ragga flow and distinctive rascally delivery down, totally outshining the older MC, J-Sun, whom she was sharing the stage with. In the following years she was ubiquitous on the Copenhagen hip hop scene, performing with Karen Mukupa (and, at the beginning also MC Emcee) as the group No Name Requested as well as delivering numerous guest shots at other people’s shows and recordings. Her tenacity, vigour and sheer talent on stage was impressive and though I didn’t always dig her music, she remains one of the artists from that period I respect the most.
Nothing could have prepared me for her comeback four or five years ago, however. After having pursued a career as a jockey, and unfortunately sustained a serious injury, she came back to the fore as a musician. More focused and serious, but most of all much more accomplished as a DJ and singer than I had ever expected. She was suddenly delivering full bore on her always obvious talent, and it was a joy to both hear and see. Performing with the Copenhagen sound system Sky Juice, the Danish dancehall trio Bikstok Røgsystem and others, as well as on her own, she was heating up the clubs around Copenhagen during the reggae and dancehall revival we’re still experiencing. A period that I’m sure will come to be regarded as historic in Danish club history.
And then, in 2006, hot on the heels of dropping her first solo album, Release, she won the prestigious Irie FM Big Break Contest in Jamaica as the first non-Jamaican artist ever. This launched her international career, and led to her recording with reggae legends Sly and Robbie amongst other things. Obviously dead serious about her music, she was taking it to the next level as her life was tragically cut short this weekend.
Last time I saw her on stage was at last year’s Roskilde Festival, a sunny afternoon where everything was irie. This, I’m sure, will remain my memory of her: shining star on stage, lighting it up, sharing the love.
All best to friends and family. Likkle T, yuh gwine be missed.
Full bio, sample tracks – including her recent, wonderful support song for Ungdomshuset – video and more can be checked for at her MySpace page. Also, read an interview conducted after her show at Roskilde last year here. And here’s a clip showing some of her moments of glory in Jamaica last year: