Review : Speech Debelle - Freedom of Speech
NinjatuneTwo years since winning the 2009 Mercury Music Prize for her debut album, “Speech Therapy,” and having ridden a rollercoaster through life since then, Speech Debelle is ready to drop her second collection of music.
Entitled “Freedom of Speech,” the album sees Speech turning from introspection to stand up, face and engage with the world around her, spitting confident themes of revolution and love. Still brutally honest, yet a more mature and exciting record with lyrics to match, the new sound was shaped in collaboration with Kwes, a young South London producer who already boasts production for DELS, a record contract with Warp and a recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of Damon Albarn’s DRC project for Oxfam.
A first taste of the album came in the aftermath of this summer’s riots, when Speech reacted immediately, leaking the track “Blaze Up A Fire,” (also featuring Roots Manuva and Realism), a track about political revolution written months before. Going on record about the causes of the riots in a statement and on twitter gave rise to heated debate, yet as the dust settled, there remained respect for her speaking out with insight, while others chose to stay silent.
So now the build-up begins to the release of “Freedom of Speech” in early February 2012 with the free download of the track “Studio Backpack Rap.” From political to musical revolution, Speech describes the track as being "all about virtual instrumentation and an ode to Kwes the producer. For the writing stage of the album he would take out his laptop and midi-USB keyboard and that would be it. We’d start working and I couldn’t believe what we could do with so little equipment.”...full text
GuardianSpeech Debelle has been a prickly proposition since 2009, when she somehow became a less acclaimed Mercury prize winner than M People or Gomez, for her debut album Speech Therapy. This follow-up needed to pack some clout to pick up the pieces of her reputation and, in parts, it does just that. With producer Kwes, she's fashioned a fresh, synthy sound that takes in 80s soft rock and 90s swing, peppered with quirks of British hip-hop. Studio Backpack Rap, Eagle Eye and Collapse offer deft accompaniment to smart rhymes about anger, society and last year's riots. But it's when the focus narrows that it starts to fall down, as the more personal tracks about relationships gone wrong – Elephant, X Marks the Spot – sound flat and familiar, and she's still prone to proselytising. A pleasantly surprising, if patchy, return....full text
GuardianSouth London rapper follows up Mercury-winning debut with modest, unambitious second album" is not a line you'll read about this explosive new record from Speech Debelle. If you're worried about a deficit of political anger in contemporary British music, listen to "Blaze Up a Fire", the track she leaked in August in response to the UK riots, or "Collapse", which describes with manic intensity the geopolitical road to global anarchy. Debelle is not always easy company and can veer into self-absorption, but the album is refreshingly outspoken and, with help from producer Kwes, musically daring....full text
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