Review: Jack Foley
HAVING recently been voted best newcomer at the 2004 MOBO awards,
Estelle has already earned herself quite a formidable reputation
as one of Britain's premier rappers, especially since she is also
triumphed at the UK Hip Hop Awards on three occasions.
It's little wonder that all eyes are on the debut album, to see
if it measures up to the potential first displayed in last year's
Diamond in the Rough EP.
The good news is that The 18th Day takes a very big
step towards realising that potential, arriving like a breath
of fresh air amid the current crop of ghetto-fixated female rappers.
It has attitude, of course, but it doesn't dwell on hardship
or aggression, but provides several feel-good moments to counter-balance
As such, it places Estelle firmly at the head of the current
UK R&B/hip-hop explosion, in front of the likes of Shystie
Kicking off with the huge Summer anthem, 1980, which
features a Tony Orlando sample, the album then proceeds to take
in elements of classic Motown funk, contemporary R&B flavas
and even some soul-laden ballads.
Yet, it remains an endearing listen, even if not all of the tracks
Don't Talk, for instance, contains an urban vibe that
sounds as though it could belong to countless rappers, but is
quickly followed by the urgent Dance Bitch, which features
some funky, clappy beats and some fast-talking lyrics which, although
expletive-laden, don't sound anywhere near as forced, or offensive,
It is during such moments, however, that it's easy to see how
the album could cater for the US market as well as the UK, coming
across as an easy companion album to Ms Dynamite's efforts.
The two singers are not dissimilar.
Yet as hard as Estelle becomes, lyrically, the album manages
to retain a sense of fun, with forthcoming single, Free,
featuring a man-woman face-off with So Solid's Megaman, a classic
case in point.
It's fast, accessible, features some more clap-happy verses,
and a really terrific chorus that capably demonstrates the full
range of Estelle's vocals. She sounds like she's having fun singing
it and this translates well to the listener.
The Motown-inspired Go Gone is equally as fun, and more
than a little pop, while the soulful Hey Girl sounds
like an inspired blend of Fugees mixed with Shystie.
Things slow down, mid-section, with the ballads Maybe
and Crazy, which don't really work, but the album is
rounded off in typically chirpy fashion, with the piano-laced
On and On, and the defiant I'm Gonna Win, which
could serve as a mission statement for the rest of her career.
On this form, you wouldn't bet against Estelle winning more awards
in the long-run, for the future looks very bright for this talented
2. Don’t Talk
3. Dance Bitch
4. Change Is Coming
5. Go Gone
7. I Wanna Love You
10. Hey Girl
11. All Over Again
12. Dance With Me
13. On and On
14. I'm Gonna Win