Justine Skye walks into the room quietly. Her natural curls have been thrown into a messy topknot and there’s not a touch of makeup on her face, yet all heads turn as she passes by. The up-and-coming R&B singer, who first hit the scene as a teenager when her song “Everyday Living” landed on BET’s 106 & Park back in 2013, has presence.
Aside from her gorgeous chocolate-hued skin, enviably pouty full lips and mesmerizing eyes, she radiates a certain magnetism—and the kind of swag that allows her to transform from laid-back fresh face to total bombshell once she gets in front of a camera. She’s a photographer’s dream, moving her body with the grace and poise of a trained dancer, nailing shot after shot and shining bright in metallics.
Skye is also nimbly evolving as an artist. Her latest project—a six-song EP titled Bare With Me, which debuted this past summer—is truly close to her heart. It’s a nod to her Jamaican heritage as well as an expression of the freedom she’s discovered by simply doing exactly what she wants with her sound.
“Throughout my career a lot of people told me to stay away from the Caribbean and Afrobeats style, because it didn’t start getting popular until recently,” she says. “But now that I’m independent [she signed with Nynetineth this past year], I’m just trusting my instincts, which I should’ve done before, but, you know, things happen in their own time.”
Along with shedding her signature purple tresses, the 24-year-old Brooklyn native has discovered a new version of herself. Known to be woke—in 2017 she took a knee while singing the national anthem at a Nets game—she used to shy away from wearing her curls at photo shoots and in shows.
“A part of it was just that I started to lose confidence in my hair products,” she says. “I started doing protective styles. I remember the first time I got a weave I was 19.”
Fast-forward five years and Skye not only stands firm in her natural locks but she’s also proving that she is not a one-trick beauty. Her collaboration with H&M, which launched this month, includes 17 pieces of ready-to-wear apparel, footwear and accessories. Her joint venture Justine Skye for The Lip Bar has created An Island Gyal Collection. The line, which offers a variety of beauty must-haves from smudge-proof eyeliner to brown nude shimmer gloss, also drops this winter.
But while Skye is fearlessly taking on new challenges, everything always comes back to the music. It is, after all, her first love, and she says it feels good to be in the driver’s seat.
“It’s really about coming up with the creative approach, coming up with the sound and direction I want to go in with the people I choose to work with,” she says as she nods along to one of her songs, “Bulletproof,” playing in the background.
“You can get caught up in going into the studio with people you don’t know, who don’t know anything about you, and just making songs. I got caught up in that cycle for so long.”
“Now I’m on a journey of truly understanding what I want to share with the world and how I want to be seen. Before, I was putting that trust in everyone else, butI feel like with this new music, it’s fully just me.”