|ARTIST: E S T E L L E
|| B I O G R A P H Y
To most hip hop fans Estelle needs no introduction. In 2002 Tim Westwood declared her as a UK talent to look out for and last year Music Week cited her as the one UK rapper most likely to challenge the mainstream. Among the admirers was 1Xtra DJ Skitz, who immediately asked her to appear on his groundbreaking album Countryman. Skitz remains a firm fan: "She is the Queen of British Hip Hop and one of the most prolific lyricists I know. Shes killed every live show I've done with her and people fall at her knees. Beautiful, funny and humble she is loved by everyone on the UK scene and if she doesn't make it I feel worried for the rest of us."
Further appearances on albums by 57th Dynasty, Social Misfits, Sources Wordplay compilation and all-star rap collective Against The Grain got the word around, along with appearances on many house and dance tracks including Faithless 2006 record from their no 1's album "Why Go" but it was the success of her collaboration with Blak Twang (Trixsta) which brought Estelle to the attention of a far wider audience and primed her for success. "It was an honour for me to be on that record. It helped me a lot. He reached out to me and I really appreciate it." In fact the track saw her nominated for a Mobo for Best Hip Hop Artist alongside Blak Twang and she has now been voted Best Female Artist at the UK Hip Hop Awards for three years running.
She finally set the wheels in motion for her solo career with debut track Excuse Me, which surprised everyone with a blissed-out summer groove that hinted strongly at potential stardom. Since then she set up her own label, Stellarents, through which she has released white labels "Do You Like?" featuring Kele Le Roc, and "Take it Off" featuring Jamaican dancehall vocalist Cecile, and a series of mixtapes entitled "Da Heat". "I set up Stellarents as a business so that whatever happens I will always have that to fall back on." When the record companies inevitably came calling Estelle sensibly held out for the right deal. "I waited on the right deal because labels are concerned with whats best for them, not you. You cant just take any deal a label might offer you. If youre going to put your heart and soul into it you better make sure you get yours. Go in there and demand what youre worth, and let them know what youre capable of. V2 and J-Did know what theyre dealing with and will push me like a popular artist because thats what I am."
Estelles own tastes range from Kanye West, Nas, Jay Z, Redman and Rah Digga to Mos Def, Jill Scott, Common and Teddy Riley. But her main influences lie firmly with two of the most important female figures in hip hop soul Missy Elliot and Mary J. Blige "I like female artists who show that women dont have to strip off or compromise themselves to be recognised as musicians. I can match men head to toe."
Born of a Senegalese mother and father from Grenada, Estelle grew up in West London in a large family of eight brothers and sisters and an extended family of cousins. Her mother was a massive reggae fan and her dad built home made speaker cabinets that shook the whole house. She spent her childhood listening to her parents reggae records and her aunts soul collection. Then she discovered hip hop. "I got into hip hop from my uncle, he was always playing us Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane; he was a bad boy and my mum wasnt really happy that I was hanging out with him." Little did she know that in a few years she would not only be hanging out but performing with the likes of Chuck D and Flava Flav, Talib Kweli and The Roots, Floetry and Terri Walker, and touring with Justin Timberlake. As her own stage beckons, Estelle is set to take up the challenge with the same kind of positivity and determination that has got her this far.
Estelle recently signed to Atlantic Records US via John Legend's Homeschool Records.
Taken from Estelle's MySpace Page