Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Rappers Don't All Rap about Guns; the Best of the New Breed of Hip Hop Artists, Estelle Is a Savvy Businesswoman with a New Message

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

We Rappers Don't All Rap about Guns; the Best of the New Breed of Hip Hop Artists, Estelle Is a Savvy Businesswoman with a New Message

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID SMYTH

ESTELLE Swaray doesn't feel much like a Best Newcomer, the award she picked up at this year's Mobos. It's not the "best" part that the west Londoner has any trouble with - like their American counterparts, it seems that British rappers have few self-esteem problems - it's "newcomer" that doesn't sit right.

After all, she has been named Best Female Artist for three years in a row at the less well-known UK Hip Hop Awards; nor is she a stranger to the Mobos, after a Best Hip Hop Act nomination in 2002, for her duet with male rapper Blak Twang.

"'99 I started to write rhymes," she raps in the chorus of her hit single, 1980, a catchy roundup of details from her 24 years so far, which include watching Dynasty, copying Mel & Kim and hearing of a dead neighbour being eaten by his cat.

"I knew I wasn't a newcomer, but I think they mean newcomer on a global scale," she says, her business-minded imagination already considering markets as far afield as Australia and Japan.

Her enthusiasm, unusually, doesn't stretch to the US, despite her acknowledgement of heroes such as Jodeci, Mary J Blige and Talib Kweli. While the UK urban scene is undeniably inferior to that of the genre's birthplace, the feeling remains that the Americans give our efforts too little respect.

US stars Pharrell Williams, Out-Kast, Beyonce Knowles and big winner Kanye West all turned down the chance to attend the Mobos, and Estelle has attended London concerts by top rappers that have left her seething.

"Some platinum artists come over here, do two tracks, throw water at us and go," she says. "If you're not even going to sweat, get the hell off ! Why did you bother to come? I don't care whether America thinks I'm good because they don't care whether we think they're good."

Refreshingly, she is well aware that all the limos and awards are "an illusion" and is more concerned with the backroom operations of the music industry than the average glamorous young star.

As something to fall back on, she already runs her own record label, Stellarents, with one of her younger sisters (another sings with her on stage).

"I always wanted to have a career doing music, not just to be famous," she says. "I saw people like Damon Dash and Timbaland setting up their own companies and wanted to do that, too, because there's no guarantees with fame, especially with black music over here."

Time after time, a new black star emerges to enormous fanfare, only for the public to have lost interest by the time of their second album. Craig David, So Solid Crew, Big Brovaz, even Dizzee Rascal have all failed to sustain the (admittedly unrealistic) hype that surrounded their debuts.

Now it is Estelle's turn for that initial burst of glory. Her first album, The 18th Day (V2), released on Monday, will propel her from the world of underground hip hop to the mainstream. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.