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Page last updated at 10:07 GMT, Wednesday, 27 May 2009 11:07 UK
Introducing... Speech Debelle

By Greg Cochrane
Newsbeat music reporter

Honesty's the best policy - at least that's south London acoustic rapper Speech Debelle's take on life.

Speech Debelle
Speech Debelle releases her debut album in June

There's a lot to be said for getting things off your chest.

Bottle up your problems and niggles become stresses - 26-year-old Speech Debelle knows this more than most forcing her honesty out via her music.

"It comes through my music a lot more," blinks Debelle sat in the early evening sun of a London restaurant. "My guitar player was just saying, 'You say things really harsh and blunt sometimes, but coming out of a voice like yours it doesn't really feel as bad'."

It's true; south Londoner Speech Debelle has a talent for making the spiky sound sweet.

First offering

Her debut album - Speech Therapy - out in June, is a soul-baring acoustic-hip hop journey through her teenage years - it's a record that has already earned her comparisons to Lily Allen, Jamie T and Lauryn Hill.

Speech Debelle, the facts


WHAT:26 year old south London acoustic rapper


FOR FANS OF:Jamie T, Tracy Chapman, Adele, Missy Elliot


DOWNLOAD:The Key




LIVE: UK festival appearances throughout the summer
introducing




She's not about to pull any punches when it comes to tackling her own past.

"Say, if I went into a courtroom and I pleaded not guilty knowing I was guilty I'd be scared," she says frankly. "It's my truth so I'll stand by it."

There are some confessional offerings on display on her debut, like standout Daddy's Little Girl - a thinly veiled tribute to her absent father.

"There are lot of people, male or female that don't take up responsibilities they should," she explains. "By doing so they end up taking away a part of people's lives - like theft.

"For that reason I think it's good to have that song on there. Maybe a little embarrassment might help sometimes too…"

Growing up

A British-born Jamaican, Speech began writing poetry aged nine, started rapping lyrics in the schoolyard aged 13.

"I'm not sure I had much to say when I was 13. I didn't have any bills, I hadn't experienced love," she grins. "I think it was just 'I'm rapping, I'm rapping, listen to me'."

Back then, initial inspiration came courtesy of Michael Jackson, which quickly turned to Blackstreet, Mary J Blige, TLC and finally, her real love now, reggae.

"There's something in the timing of reggae, it sits perfectly with a heartbeat. It's not rushed it's not too slow," she says.

Speech Debelle
Speech Debelle plays a number of UK festivals this summer

Reggae, or more specifically the way it reverberated out of car stereo systems in her neighbourhood growing up, kicked off her obsession with sound.

"I see sound in a sort of physical way," she enthuses. "I'd hear a piece of music and it hits me in the stomach. Or it tugs at me. Or it pushes me."

That fascination has culminated in Speech Therapy - part recorded in Australia in a sweltering summer studio where they'd work until the sunshine forced them outside.

Those sun rays make their way onto the album - it's not just dark revelations and it's not just Debelle who features. Odd-pop sensation Micachu and British rapper Roots Manuva also guest. "We get on cool," says Debelle of her friend Micachu. "We're going to play and have a nice drink and enjoy the summer and the festivals."

Following that summer of shows, there's only one thing on Debelle's mind looking at her neighbour's dinner. "A world tour - I get to eat in all of the countries of the world," she laughs. "That's one of my ambitions."

Speech Debelle: talent, and hunger.



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