Speech Debelle

  • Speech Debelle
  • 2009-08-03

26 year old South London rapper Speech Debelle may not have had the easiest of upbringings, but she has not let that hold her back. Instead of bottling up her issues, Speech decided instead to hook up with some musicians and write some frankly honest tunes. Debut album Speech Therapy may be one of the surprise nominations at this year’s Mercurys but upon listening to the softly spoken heartfelt revelations, it is immediately evident how she warranted selection. Speech may not be a name everyone knows at the moment, but current evidence suggests she deserves to be. zap! bang! decided to take a few minutes to find out more about the girl whose name everyone will soon be dropping.

Speech Therapy is an explanation of your complicated background. For those who don’t know it, can you explain?

I grew up in Crystal Palace and then moved to Mitcham with my mother. I got kicked out at the age of 19 and lived in hostels and friend’s houses for 4 years before I got my record deal. I’m born into a middle class Jamaican family.

What first got you into making music?

I fell in love with words first and then music. Hip-hop stood out because it was the thing I felt merged those to elements the best.

Was it a difficult journey to get the album released?

It was most difficult working out what I wanted to do musically. I wanted a live feel to it and because I had the words already, I needed musicians to get the message across. It took about three weeks for me and Wayne Lotek to be able to execute my ideas through musicians. I hadn’t worked with musicians before so I didn’t understand the language.

You have just been Mercury nominated, what do you think distinguishes you from the rest of the current British Hip-Hop crew?

It’s a very musical album, which helps people who don’t usually listen to rap feel like they are a part of it. It speaks in a more universal language.

I don’t see anyone as my competition, they can’t do what I did and I can’t do what they did.

Do you hope that the nomination will elevate your commercial status?


Who is your favourite past Mercury winner?

Ms Dynamite, she made it a reality for me in my mind.

Who do you see as your biggest competition this year?

I don’t see anyone as my competition, they can’t do what I did and I can’t do what they did.

Who else in the scene do you respect?

Bashy, Wiley, Shystie, Kano, Ears

Any potential collaborations?

I just did the remix to my single “Betters Days” with Wiley. That’s available online now.

Do you alter your sound for live performance?

Yes, it has to be because it’s a live version of recorded music. It has to be a replication of the album with room for live improvement.

Where would you like to be this time next year?

At the Grammys!

Speech Debelle’s debut album Speech Therapy is out now on Big Dada Records. For more information visit Speech Debelle’s Official Site.

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