Returning with her first new project in four years, award-winning British Hip Hop artist Speech Debelle unveils breathe. – a succinct but powerful release full of soul, exploring the poetic South London native’s journey of evolution and self-discovery.
“Her return could not have come at a better time. In a world full of musical fads and gimmicks, it’s refreshingly pleasant to hear…such depth and substance.” —MTV“
Speech Debelle burst onto the scene in 2009, scooping the Mercury Music Prize for British Album Of The Year with her raw and vulnerable debut, Speech Therapy, before garnering further critical acclaim with her Kwes-produced Freedom Of Speech LP in 2012, which MOJO declared to be, “one of the sturdiest, most rounded hip hop albums to emerge from these shores.” Her wider passions came to the forefront in the years that followed; with Speech curating a moving exhibition of art by prisoners for the Koestler Trust’sThe Strength and Vulnerability Bunker at London’s iconic Southbank Centre in 2013, running a Caribbean food truck, and tantalising the nation with her inventive recipes as a semi-finalist on Celebrity Masterchef.
Marking her return from hiatus in 2016, breathe. is a nourishing reminder of Speech Debelle’s signature thoughtful lyricism, poignant social commentary and vulnerably honest storytelling that provokes, uplifts and empowers.
Opening track “The Work” sets the tone of this four-track EP, with radiant strings and melancholy keys providing the backdrop to affirming reflections on the process of growth and awakening, while the smooth and sensual “Terms & Conditions” gets deeper under the surface as Speech evaluates the cycles in toxic relationships. “Running” picks up the speed with realisations of necessary change over dramatic chords and pacing drums, and the project climaxes with “No War No Peace,” a defiant cut penned in Zanzibar with rousing beats and pulsing, colourful rhythms that demand a dancefloor appearance.
The collaborations on breathe. are as intimate as the content, with instrumental and writing contributions from Neil Cowley (Adele, Emeli Sande) and Self Taught Beats,vocal features from Miss Baby Sol and Shingai Shoniwa (Noisettes), and production by Wayne Lotek, Nick Trepka, Mike Lindsay and Speech herself.
In her own words, the EP reflects “the experiences of acknowledging the places that need my attention – the relationships I have with others and how that mirrors the one I have with myself, and the war/peace that comes with that shift, internally and as a shared experience.”