- Audio CD (13 Feb. 2012)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: CD
- Label: Big Dada
- ASIN: B0067FSM4S
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 136,838 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Freedom Of Speech CD
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Freedom Of Speech [Explicit]
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Digital Booklet: Freedom Of Speech
Digital Booklet: Freedom Of Speech
One of the more popular fallacies when it comes to music is the ‘curse’ of the Mercury Prize. Still, in a world where this head-scratcher remains prevalent, Speech Debelle (real name Corynne Elliot) must be one of the most convincing arguments for its existence. Her debut Mercury-winning LP, 2009’s Speech Therapy, was a beautiful bolt that showed British rap could be emotionally accessible. The ensuing chug of publicity wasn’t big enough for Speech, and she reacted badly. She blamed her label, had an on-stage slanging match with James Corden of all people, and said some slightly odd things about the London riots, namely that she would be looting too if she was younger. What, if anything, could her second album bring apart from confusion?
The truth is, anyone who wasn’t convinced by her debut is going to find far more to take issue with on Freedom of Speech. It is vitally conflicted by Speech’s natural desire to emote in her raps and her industrial need to make a point. Consequently, there’s a jostle between harder-edged examples like Blaze Up a Fire and the Mogwai-reminiscent (honestly) soul-search of Sun Dog. Blaze Up a Fire in particular is problematic, in that Speech herself has aligned it with the London riots of August 2011, even though the lyrics refer to less local affairs. "I’m not a pop star, I’m a mutha-f***in’ thug," she hisses, though no-one was ever accusing her of being either.
Angel Wings complicates the album further, mixing Speech’s industrial and emotional conflicts more deeply. She hits out at bloggers and critics who attacked her for saying she knew she would win the Mercury Prize, but this is the sort of bravado that some of her male counterparts get away with all the time without excuse. Sensitivity is one of her strongest qualities, but here it’s unnecessary. Her being so sure of herself is another, and one that she has no need to apologise for.
It’s probably best that the LP ends on the bucolic, charged and fantastic Sun Dog. This is where her efforts are best spent, the one song on the album that shows her ability to search herself with lyrics and let the music sympathise with it. "There’s work to be done," she begins, before detailing a sleepless work ethic while recording this set. In a way, it’s a fair summation. You can’t fault her attitude, but Freedom of Speech shows that one of Britain’s most intriguing hopes still has some serious thinking to do.
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Top Customer Reviews
was a breath of fresh air in so many ways. A deeply personal voice telling
stories about her life and experiences in a credible and authentically
touching way. Corynne Elliot (Mercury Prize aside) showed remarkable promise.
Her urban tales and landscapes unfolded against refreshingly original
electro/acoustic arrangements framing her mercurial rhyming and perky voice.
'Freedom Of Speech' is another proposition altogether. Her new material has
a brash and bombastic quality which smacks of a young woman exorcising her
grudges rather than building on the solid, deeply human, foundations which
underpinned her earlier work. The sound is darker and heavier and the lyrics
more ponderous and self-indulgent but something precious seems to have been
lost in this new incarnation. The recording is a very bitter little pill indeed.
There are moments when the light shows through. 'Shawshank Redemption' finds
a groove which allows Ms Elliot to stretch her wings and prove that she may
yet be a force to be reckoned with and the beautiful final track 'Sun Dog',
with its mournful cello arrangement, truly does mine a deeper emotional seam.
Tracks like 'Elephant In The Living Room' and 'X Marks The Spot' and especially
the hollow pat-political ranting of 'Collapse', however, are decidedly clumsy
and lacklustre. Louder and harder isn't necessarily better. The magic has gone.
Still early in her career, I am hopeful, nonetheless, that Ms Elliot will
find her feet once more and deliver another stunner next time around.
Nu Era subverts all things graf: she holds down one or two streets (rather than spreading herself over the largest possible area), `lines-out' all comers (lining-out: the ultimate put-down; a single clean line through another's tag) and has the audacity to sketch a crown above her tag (idiomatically: the symbol of going `all city'). She is incendiary, subverts all the unwritten rules, and no one can touch her.
Lewisham council whitewashed Nu Era's main stretch last week (the footbridge off Creekside), and I'm hoping she'll return. Equally, I could be talking about Speech Debelle, another urban queen with her heart on her sleeve, and an audacious attitude to back it up. Technically, neither of them is outstanding; but more important than technique is their ability to reconfigure accepted cultural norms and thus improve the world for all.
I'm glad to see Speech Debelle is still on Big Dada - UK Hip-Hop's true home. Musically, the live instruments, conscious lyrics, dub bass-lines and interesting arrangements all remain (there is even a diffuse disco arrangement, complete with live strings - "I'm with it" - which sounds miraculously fresh); standouts like "The Key" or "Daddy's Little Girl" are missing, but don't let that put you off, this is a densely-woven long player that works as a coherent whole.Read more ›