Alaine Talks Writing For 17-Year-Old Tami Chin, Linkup With Usain Bolt On ‘Pile Up’

Alaine shares she started out writing hip hop and R&B songs before becoming a singer in the reggae/dancehall space


Jamaican songstress Alaine might be well-known for her melodic voice that has captured the hearts of lovers but before her successful reggae music career, the “Sacrifice” artist was a successful hip-hop songwriter and backup singer for some of the biggest artists in the genre.

In an interview with The Fix, Alaine reveals her impressive resume as a young woman who lived in New York working as an investment banker at JP Morgan and she wanted to pursue a creative career. Describing herself as “shy” and “introverted”, Alaine said she wanted to be a songwriter and to be in the background and she “moonlighted” after work in hopes of getting in on music.

Despite the competitive landscape, Alaine reveals that she worked with some of Hip Hop’s finest, including Cam’ron and Freeway, for whom she did background vocals. She reveals that even though she never met them, she was working with a producer who was working with them, and he asked her to add her vocals.

“I was writing R&B songs and learning as I went because that was so good for my writing because you had to be really good or nobody cared,” Alaine described her early career. “The songwriting thing is not easy, but I learnt a lot, I learnt to be thick-skinned because mi bawl. I remember one time I wrote a song and I said ‘Yeah this ago place with xx artist’ and them say, ‘No, garbage, flush it down the toilet’. I lock up in my apartment and bawl,” she said.

Tami Chin
Tami Chin

Alaine also revealed that she was a songwriter for fellow Jamaican artist Tammy Chin, who was 17 years old.

“Now Tammy is somebody that I met when she was 17 years old. She was working with some producers from Florida that were friends of mine. They were like ‘Alaine, we have this girl she’s so beautiful and talented and we want you to write for her I flew down from New York and we started working together, I started writing for her,” Alaine said, adding that she and Tammy’s parents coincidentally were close friends.

Tammy later moved to New York where she lived with Alaine at first as she tried to help her to meet some producers so her career could take off.

“I was I write and you will sing and she (Tammy) said ‘Yes lady, we will take the world by storm’. This is us, broke and in New York and just dreaming,” Alaine said.

Alaine reveals that shortly after she moved back to Jamaica having decided that she hated working at the bank and was optimistic something would work out.

As for why she didn’t stick it out in the Hip Hop world, Alaine said the music industry in the United States was very fickle as artists would record the songs, but labels might decide to drop them later.


Later in the interview, Alaine also talks about navigating the local music industry, noting that it wasn’t easy, that “people laugh after me, where this uptown girl going.”

She also remembers resisting a successful producer’s efforts to have her change her music style to be raunchier and more accepted.

“I remember somebody heard ‘Deeper’ and he went ‘ok you sound alright, but nobody is gonna care unless you under your skirt… that’s what I was faced with… it (the song) was not slack,” Alaine said.

“He was like if you don’t get raunchy, people nah go care,” she added. However, Alaine said that was not who she was, and she ignored him.

“I got lots of ‘you need to be sexy-er’ but I was like no, that’s a lie… if I tried that people are going to be like, what are you doing? You know, be yourself and that’s what I did…it don’t fit me, mi nuh stay so,” she said.

Alaine also shares that she doesn’t regret leaving her investment banking job even though she had been promoted to vice president of the bank’s team.

Alaine also has a new song with Usain Bolt on his new riddim project, Sweet 7.