A/V Room









Estelle - The 18th Day

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 the gloom.

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 and co.

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 stand out.

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, as Eminem.

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 British singer.



Track listing:
1. 1980
2. Don’t Talk
Dance Bitch
4. Change Is Coming
5. Go Gone
6. Free
7. I Wanna Love You
8. Maybe
9. Crazy
10. Hey Girl
11. All Over Again
12. Dance With Me
13. On and On
14. I'm Gonna Win

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