Layering laid-back poetry and stirring confessionals over wandering jazz and soul beats from another era, Brit MC Speech Debelle quickly earned a following for her honest hip-hop concoctions in the late 2000s. Her dreamy style a translucent mask for a hard-edged early life of struggle and sorrow, a sense of life truly lived pervades her music, from her fully formed backing band, the Therapists, to her broken cadences and heart-on-sleeve lyrics.
British-born Jamaican Debelle (real name: Corynne Elliot) grew up in South London, taking up rap in her early teens, but falling in love with all sorts of music. An absentee father, spells of homelessness, and other hardships poured into the music on her 2009 debut, Speech Therapy. The record earned stellar reviews, but she truly burst into international prominence when the record won the 2009 Mercury Prize. However, all the praise did not translate to sales, and the MC made it known that she was frustrated with her label. Despite the friction, she remained with Big Dada and released her second album, Freedom of Speech, in February 2012. ~ Jason Thurston