Friday, August 21, 2009
Talking It Out...
Rarely has an album title been more on-the-mark than Speech Therapy, the debut record from UK MC Speech Debelle. With an honesty that is virtually unheard in rap music, Debelle lays it all out there for listeners. We're talking The Bell Jar level honesty (though without the suicidal feelings) and at times the confessional nature of the lyrics can feel like a little too much. Debelle even recognizes this when she notes on the title-track that "this is my speech therapy / this isn't rap."
But I was thinking recently about how self-revelatory we as a society have become on reality television, blogs and social-networking sites; and re-listening to Speech Therapy before writing this entry I now realize that Debelle is just doing what we're all doing, only in a more artful way.
When she addresses her ex-lover leaving on "Go Then, Bye" she immediately echoes the abandonment issues buried in that song in the more forthright "Daddy's Little Girl" which rails against the father who walked out on her family when she was younger. It's a one-two punch to the guts and the mixture of pain and strength, hope and sadness is bracing. No wonder then that Speech Therapy is nominated for the Mercury Prize [the UK's version of the Polaris, though since it came first, the Polaris is actually Canada's version of the Mercury...]
Released on the ever-outstanding Big Dada imprint (home to Roots Manuva, Ty, etc.) the album is finally making its way across the Atlantic and was officially released to North American audiences on Tuesday the 18th of August.
As unusual as her lyrical honesty is, Debelle's record also benefits from some unusual production and beats making it a rewarding listen for those who have tired of the cookie-cutter hip-hop being made in North America. For evidence, check out one of my favourite cuts from the album, "Better Days" featuring Micachu:
And don't forget to check out Debelle's Myspace page and website.
Thanks for reading, now start listening...