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Last Updated: Monday, 5 September 2005, 07:21 GMT 08:21 UK
Ms Dynamite plans to build on Mercury
By Ian Youngs
BBC News entertainment reporter

As this year's Nationwide Mercury Music Prize approaches, past winner Ms Dynamite is preparing to make her comeback after three years away.

Ms Dynamite
Ms Dynamite won the Mercury with her debut album, A Little Deeper
When Ms Dynamite won the Mercury Prize in 2002, the 21-year-old newcomer was hailed as the fresh voice of urban Britain, the country's first home-grown hip-hop star.

"I think it had a major impact on my career," she says of the award.

"It's like the doors to this wider audience had been opened and someone had just kicked me out of them.

"I literally felt the next day a huge difference - probably because everyone was so shocked. I think they were as shocked as I was."

But when she put her career on hold to have a baby, some feared the fabled Mercury jinx - which has seen past winners like Gomez, Roni Size and Talvin Singh sink from view - may strike again.

I just feel a million times more positive
Ms Dynamite
"I've been told the whole story but it doesn't apply to me," she insists. "I'm sorry, I had to come along and be the one that breaks it and proves it wrong."

With her second album ready, she says she has grown up, gained confidence and is finally ready to take on the world.

The 24-year-old says she feels "a million times more positive" than she did before she had her son, Shavaar, and that is reflected in her music.

"I don't like to say more mature because I'm so not a mature person, honestly, I'm really not. But that's how others would describe it."

Ms Dynamite at Live 8
Ms Dynamite says Live 8 was a "sad and frustrating" political failure
First time around, the awards and acclaim hid a lack of confidence, she says. While happy to write music, she lacked self-belief in front of the camera and on stage.

"I feel that I wasn't that confident within myself as an artist," she says.

When it came to performing, it was the "basic stuff that everyone else seems to find so easy" that she was not comfortable with - like singing, dancing, having her picture taken.

"This time around, I'm like - OK, I'm not good at this that or the other but who cares? So what - it works for me, let me just get out there and do my thing.

"I feel that having that break has given me the time to work on myself and build on those things and I feel very, very confident."

Ms Dynamite made her public comeback at Live 8 in July - which succeeded in raising public awareness about problems in Africa, she says.

'Life and death'

But it failed to change the minds of world leaders and significantly improve poverty, she says. "That's where the difference wasn't made.

"The most important difference of all, to put it bluntly, because it's the difference between life and death, at the end of the day.

"It's just very sad and frustrating that it didn't have that impact on [the G8] for whatever reasons."

Ms Dynamite has returned more opinionated than ever, with new album Judgement Days tackling issues from domestic violence and gun crime to war and poverty.

Ms Dynamite at Band Aid 20
As a society, we spend so much time complaining about the way things are
Ms Dynamite
The first single, Judgement Day, addresses many of the world's ills - from corporate exploitation to child abuse by priests - with the chorus: "How you gonna wash the blood from your hands?"

It is a bold rallying cry from an artist who believes music can make a difference.

Judgement Day is aimed at "everyone including myself", she says.

"As a society, as people, as human beings - particularly in the Western world - we spend so much time complaining about the way things are," she says.

"But at the end of the day, everything that we go through as human beings we are responsible for.

"There's no reason why, when we put on the TV and watch the news, there's morbid and just horrible things going on. It doesn't have to be like that.

"That is a choice we as a people we make. It's just about being responsible."

I like to think I'm quite a thoughtful person, but I'm still blind
Ms Dynamite
Her main weapon is provoking people to think about issues they would not normally consider, she says.

"I like to think I'm quite a thoughtful person, but I'm still blind," she says.

"When you start to think about it, then you can think about how wrong it is.

"Then you can think about - how do we go about changing it? We'll see how it goes."

But she still has time for a bit of mindless fun and says she would like to see the Kaiser Chiefs win this year's Mercury Prize because "they're nutters".

And her advice to this year's victors is: "Enjoy it. Hopefully the so-called curse doesn't affect them."


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