Sunday, July 26, 2009

Speech Debelle: "Speech Therapy" album review

When the shortlist for the 2009 Mercury Prize was revealed last week there were a few albums that stood out for me. One of those was Speech Therapy by Speech Debelle. It stood out because I had never heard of Debelle and knew nothing of the album.

Well all of that is about to change as the UK hip hopped will see her debut album receive its North American release on August 18th.

Speech Therapy is a sophisticated hip hop album. Debelle rhymes about themes that most people can relate to. That means rather than talking about packing heat or dealing drugs she tackles widespread everyday situations involving opportunities (the humorous "Working Weak"), relationships (the defiant "Go Then, Bye"), and families ("Daddy's Little Girl"). In addition she address these issues in a thoughtful, intelligent manner.

There are more textures and variations than one would expect from your average hip hop album. Debelle easily moves from the hard edged beats of "Bad Boy" to the lush string/piano arrangement of "Wheels In Motion" (featuring Roots Manuva) to the super slick "Finish This Album".

Speech Therapy is also a very British album. Debelle makes no effort to hide her origins, rapping in a thick accent that makes her sometimes sound like a female Mike Skinner.

I'll confess to not being a hip hop aficionado, but to my ears Speech Therapy makes a very worthy Mercury Prize nominee.

Best tracks: "Go Then, Bye", "Working Weak"

Track listing for Speech Therapy:
  • Searching
  • The Key
  • Better Days
  • Spinnin'
  • Go Then, Bye
  • Daddy's Little Girl
  • Bad Boy
  • Wheels In Motion
  • Live & Learn
  • Working Weak
  • Finish This Album
  • Where Do We Go?
  • Speech Therapy

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