Estelle - The 18th Day - Listen to album sampler (6 tracks)
THE 18 th DAY
Released 18 th October 04
Heaped with praise from all corners of the media, three times winner of the UK Hip Hop Awards, and the most respected female rapper in Britain, Estelle has had a lot to live up to. Regarded for some time as a”star-in-the-making”, the young MC finally lived up to the hype when debut single “1980” rocketed up the charts and became a huge summer hit. It’s no longer about potential. This girl has surpassed all expectations and achieved a milestone in UK hip hop. Unlike other Brit hop competitors who have failed to set the charts alight, she is taking on the mainstream. And winning.
“My mother always told me to finish what I started. I didn’t come this far, or go through all the shit I have been through to flop now. Give me a reason why I can’t and I will give you ten reasons why I can.”
“1980” displayed a sense of familiarity and girl-next-door character which the nation immediately tuned into. It is a real life story about growing up, and relates the kind of experiences many of us had to endure. Living in an overcrowded house, boiling water for a bath and eating porridge so she could afford Nikes, are not tales of abject poverty, but simply how life is across much of the country.
It’s this kind of humble confessional which sets Estelle apart from her contemporaries.
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“The album is real personal”, she admits. “It’s about people that have hurt me, and people that have made me happy. Everything I write about has actually happened to me.” Completely autobiographical, “The 18 th Day” chronicles Estelle’s life, her family and her relationships. The number 18 also has a special significance as it was the day she was born. However, it almost never happened for on the 18 th of January 1980 Estelle’s mother had a near death experience while giving birth. Since then she has never taken her life for granted.
Perhaps that’s what makes this album so refreshingly inspirational and upbeat. Estelle is not one to play the pity me card and will not go along with the “rising above the ghetto” template which has been laid out for her as a British black artist. The positivity of her music shines like a beacon and cuts through the grime, crime and “tryin’ to make a dime” stance which characterises much of the UK urban scene.
“Free” is a real call to the nation’s youth to do something with their lives. As Estelle sees it, they have been given the freedom to make their own choices in life, and for that they should be grateful. The same encouragement is given in “Change is Coming”:“From the age of 13 you got the choices, it’s your life, don’t let the past rule you, choose your own route.” And in the gospel-inspired “Gonna Win” her self-belief wins through as she heeds the inner voice which tells her to keep pressing on with her music, despite what others say.
It’s a strength which has also helped her through difficult relationships. “Crazy” and “Hey Girl” will appeal to anyone who has ever been driven mad in love. Which is most of us. These are revenge songs to rival Millie Jackson and show no mercy to those who have hurt her. “The song basically says, ‘you’ve pissed me off and I have to write about it, because if I don’t I’m gonna kill you’”, she spits. And yet the toughness melts away and she becomes vulnerable again when she finds new love in lo-slung ballads such as “All Over Again” and “Maybe”.
“Hey Girl” features the utterly irresistible vocals of John Legend, Kanye West’s current protg and soon-to-be-massive soul singer. In fact the album has soul in spadefuls.
“Go Gone” is pure Motown and it will surprise many that this girl can belt out pop-tinged R&B tracks and slow jams that make your knees tremble, as well as the kind of breezy laid back hip hop for which she is loved.
And there is so much more to come from this ambitious young rapper from West London. Just as “The 18 th Day” celebrates the day of her birth, so it marks only the beginning of her journey. She is already thinking about how much further she can push herself and where she wants to go next. If t he overriding message of the album is one of self-belief, it mirrors the kind of inner strength and determination to succeed which has characterised Estelle’s career so far and which will carry her even further. To the non believers “Go Gone” gives a stinging retort:
“I see you watching me, and I know you’re looking deep in my face,
You just can’t wait, can’t wait to beat me down,
But I ain’t going down no way,
You see me rising higher and you’re trying to put some rocks in my way,
But I’m bigger and stronger, I guess I go faster, and you’re never gonna get in my way.”
With that kind of force behind her, she’s a star who will shine far into the future.
2. Don’t Talk
3. On And On
5. Go Gone
6. Dance With Me
7. All Over Again featuring Royston
8. Hey Girl feat Baby Blue and John Legend
9. Dance Bitch
10. Change Is Coming
11. I Wanna Love You
13. Gonna Win
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