This year Nessa Preppy is showing everyone how the “Tingo.”
The singer’s smash hit has been causing quite the stir since its release late last year. Nessa admits this year has heartening, because of all the fan love she has been receiving through social media and favourable radio reviews.
“Tingo”, has already reached close to 1 million views on YouTube and by all indications, the numbers will only keep going up.
Born Vanessa John, the artiste comes from a big family: a German father, Trinidadian mother, and three older brothers. Music and dance have always been a part of Nessa’s family life. “My mum was inspired to name me Vanessa because of the famous Vanessa Williams, so I’m left to assume that there were always high hopes for me to be an entertainer,” she says with a laugh.
While she began singing calypso in primary school competitions, Nessa’s passion for music only expanded as she began experimenting with hip-hop and rapso. Rapso inspired her interest in soca, and in 2013 she released “Turn Up The Sound” with Madmen Productions.
“From 2013 to now I have been doing soca music each year for Carnival and throughout the year, and my evolution is not complete,” she says. “I plan to keep trying new sounds and styles of music.”
A strong-minded and confident woman, Vanessa uses her self-assurance to call on her inner persona to become Nessa Preppy. And it is this same confidence that inspired “Tingo”, which she says reflects her sexy, dominant nature. “Usually, the men are in control and the ladies wait on the men to take the lead. This song is the ladies’ anthem, the voice of the woman showing the guys ‘how the tingo’,” she says.
Nessa says audiences often have misconceptions about her because of the persona she takes on in her music videos and onstage.
“People often see me and think I have an attitude because of my appearance but I’m quite down to earth and charming, if I may say so myself,” she says coyly. “There’s more to me than meets the eye and I’m someone who acknowledges my fans and supporters always.”
She has also been described as “too real” because of her vocal and blunt expressions about how she feels. Even her “gangster” and “ghetto” persona – labels that have been placed upon her – come from life experiences and business finesse. She was strongly influenced by her late brother who passed away when she was 17, and although she says he made his share of mistakes, he always encouraged her to be brave and bold.
“He always taught me to fight for my respect, not just as a woman but as a person,” she shares of what makes up her hard exterior that can be easily misunderstood by the public.
She continues, “I believe women can do anything we wish, within the bounds of morality and law. We should not conform to a male’s perspective simply because they are customarily the dominant gender.”
Nessa acknowledges the challenges of being a woman in the soca industry, as well. “Men always compare you as a female artiste to the other female entertainers out there. For some reason the men usually form a brotherhood, but the women are expected to fight to be the Queen. Women then usually end up being isolated.”
According to Nessa, while local and regional female artistes do show support to their counterparts, the level of camaraderie is not the same among women in the soca industry as it is for men.
“I think we can overcome this by sticking together and showing the world that we are all beautiful women with individual styles and interests. I say to women: be courageous and be outspoken; it’s the only way our voices will be heard.”
Addressing the recent national discussion on getting “permission to wine,” Nessa says while “Tingo” and its music video propose dancing with a partner, every word and action is consensual.
“I think because society is so focused on change and evolution, sometimes we abandon old values. In the old-time days there was more respect and courtesy shown, even in something like dancing, which might seem minor,” she says, adding that women should not have to deal with the trauma of unwanted, improper, vulgar, and offensive approaches in public or private spaces. “I agree a man should seek some kind of permission beforehand – it doesn’t have to be blown out of proportion; it wouldn’t require a ten-page contract but something as simple as eye contact, maybe a smile, and positive body language in return should do the trick.”
As we wrap up our interview, she teases that she has more sweet offerings for listeners in 2018. “I have some huge plans in motion and I’ll be releasing music all year round,” she hints.
She acknowledges the team behind Nessa Preppy and the dedication it takes to create a larger than life persona and hit-maker. “It gives me even more self-confidence knowing that this bunch of talented individuals chooses to collaborate on this huge project with me when they could have been spending their time on already established artistes,” she says.
As for the fan love, she feels no different. “Thank you to all the listeners and fans of ‘Tingo’ and Nessa Preppy. The love this year has been overwhelming and inspiring and I promise not to let you down.”
Photo Courtesy Sancho Francisco
Clothing by J.Angelique