Miss Red (Sharon Stern) is an Israeli dancehall MC with an effortlessly sharp, excited flow, frequently punctuating her rapid-fire rhymes with squeaks, and she's just as adept at switching into a calmer, more detached mode. Ever since she spontaneously took the stage during a 2011 gig by the Bug (Kevin Martin), the two have been frequent collaborators, both on-stage and in the studio. She only made one appearance on the Bug's 2014 album Angels & Devils, but she's clearly a perfect match for Martin's warped brand of industrial dancehall, so it's no surprise that Martin produced her 2015 mixtape Murder as well as her 2018 full-length debut, K.O.
On "One Shot Killer," from her debut album, K.O., the Israeli dancehall MC Miss Red echoes a tune from ten years ago--a tune that Kevin Martin, AKA The Bug, also produced. It has the same hammering bassline and paranoid ambience as "Skeng," but in Miss Red's version she swaps apocalyptic bad-man vibes for spooky, ethereal energy. It's a highlight of the LP, the culmination of the two artists' seven-year relationship, which began when Miss Red, born Sharon Stern, grabbed the microphone at one of Martin's gigs in a Tel Aviv basement.
From Jamaica to Israel, Miss Red comes through with a forward thinking vision of dancehall with her debut full-length 'K.O', produced by long time collaborator The Bug. Showcasing her ability to adapt flow depending on the sonic environment, opener 'Shock Out' illustrates a playful approach that floats on the periphery of danger while 'Slay' sees her really flex her lyricism complete with a wavy flow. As is to be expected, The Bug's production floats in the oxymoronic universe of heavy and atmospheric that is both haunting and devastating.
Dancehall is in a curious state at the moment. The shadow it casts over the pop mainstream has arguably never been longer, yet time and again the resulting music simply sinks into the "sea of poptastic blandness" described by Kevin Martin, aka The Bug, the producer for K.O.. This album, from Israeli MC Miss Red, can be understood as an antidote to that blandness, a subversion of the lumpy, indistinct dancehall tropes of Major Lazer et al into something more urgent, engaged, and invigorating.