Two years since winning the 2009 Mercury Music Prize for her debut album, "Speech Therapy," and having ridden a rollercoaster through life since then, Speech Debelle is ready to drop her second collection of music.
Entitled "Freedom of Speech," the album sees Speech turning from introspection to stand up, face and engage with the world around her, spitting confident themes of revolution and love. Still brutally honest, yet a more mature and exciting record with lyrics to match, the new sound was shaped in collaboration with Kwes, a young South London producer who already boasts production for DELS, a record contract with Warp and a recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of Damon Albarn's DRC project for Oxfam.
A first taste of the album came in the aftermath of this summer's riots, when Speech reacted immediately, leaking the track "Blaze Up A Fire," (also featuring Roots Manuva and Realism), a track about political revolution written months before. Going on record about the causes of the riots in a statement and on twitter gave rise to heated debate, yet as the dust settled, there remained respect for her speaking out with insight, while others chose to stay silent.
So now the build-up begins to the release of "Freedom of Speech" in early February 2012 with the free download of the track "Studio Backpack Rap." From political to musical revolution, Speech describes the track as being "all about virtual instrumentation and an ode to Kwes the producer. For the writing stage of the album he would take out his laptop and midi-USB keyboard and that would be it. We'd start working and I couldn't believe what we could do with so little equipment."
Over a catchy, bumping, jostling piece of music which pays tribute to the essence of hip hop without feeling the need to sound too much like it, Speech lays out clever, witty lyrics about the high-tech, low-gloss DIY attitude which has relevance far beyond just creating music. Optimistic, sly, funny and an undeniable head-nodder, it's a long way from "Speech Therapy," while showcasing just one aspect of her remarkable new album.
"Freedom Of Speech" - Tracklist
1. Studio Backpack Rap
2. Live for the Message
3. Blaze up a Fire feat. Roots Manuva and Realism
5. X Marks the Spot
6. Angel Wings
8. I'm With It
9. The Problem
11. Eagle Eye feat. Realism
12. Sun Dog