Thursday, May 1, 2008

Rhythmic Review: Estelle - Shine

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U.K. phenomenon Estelle Swaray, better known simply as Estelle, has debuted on this side of the pond with her American debut album Shine. Initially, she wasn't on my radar and at first listen I counted the first single "American Boy" off as nothing more than just a cute song featuring every ones go to boy of the moment, Kanye West. Being backed by John Legend and signed to his Home School Records imprint didn't have me signing on the dotted line to buy whatever she was selling, although, After further listening to the track and reading some interesting words this little lady had for her fellow U.K. acts, I realized exactly how amazing the song was and how promising Estelle's sophomore album might be. I thought I deserved it to myself and to her to give her music a fair listen, and how glad I am that I did.

With an All Star cast of producers and collaborators that include John Legend, Will.i.am, Wyclef Jean, Swizz Beatz, Kanye West and Cee—Lo Whats the result? Arguably the best R&B/HipHop album of the year so far. While Estelle is aided with a bevy of popular producers you can still tell that the essence of who she is as an artist is still apparent in the music. The Mark Ronson produced "Magnificent," featuring Kardinal Offishall, doesn't sound like anything left on the cutting room floor from a Amy Winehouse or a Lily Allen session, it has, what i can only assume to be Estelle, written all over it. The track has a refreshingly Reggae flavor to it, which one can only assume Mariah Carey tried to attempt on her song "Cruise Control" but ended up failing miserably.

While the comparisons to Lauryn Hill have been made (simply because both are black females that are talented vocalist as well as lyricist) Estelle makes a name all her own, doing things musically that have been lacking in the R&b genre for awhile, which is, STAYING TRUE TO THE GENRE! On songs like the remarkably soulful throwback "Pretty Please (love me)," and the Aretha Franklin sampled "More than Friends" she reminds everyone why the term Rhythm and Blues was coined for the genre in the first place. At the same time shes effortlessly able to take outside influences and make it work to her advantage (instead of merely doing it for the sake of being different) like on the smooth Caribbean tinged "Come Over."

Estelles skills as an MC are just as good as her ability with the harmonies. Her lyrical flair shines (no pun intended) on the feisty "Wait a Minute," which cleverly samples "I Put a Spell on you" and allows Estelle to dish about how she simply wants to keep company with a man for his..talents... and that anything else he can keep to himself by saying "You say I aint right but you keep comin back cuz this girl is tight,You aint spendin the night, uh uh after were done here its back to the wife." On the Wyclef produced "So Much Out the Way"she perfectly balances both the gritty rhyme spitting Estelle during the verses while the delicate songbird Estelle comes out during the chorus in a perfect music cohabitational kind of way.

With the recent onslaught of successful female U.K. acts, one can only think how Estelle will compare with the other ladies. To be quite fair and honest, Estelle is unlike any artist to recently rise from the U.K. musical rise, or any artist in America for that matter. She effortlessly marries the sweet softness of R&B/soul with HipHop and provides a vivid juxtaposition between the genres that makes you fall in love with them all over again; when was the last time you can say an artist did that? and no, the shit Tpain does DOESN'T quality. If this album is any indication of what Estelle is capable of, given the right support behind her, she will be one import that will be around for quite awhile and I will gladly take her with open arms.

I give Shine an A














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2 comments:

QH said...

Estelle had me with the first single, "Wait a Minute (Just a Touch)," "American Boy" was just icing on my cake.

I bought the record the day it dropped and the mixtures of sounds is near perfect.

ReBeL said...

GREAT Review! I feel the same way, I wasn't feeling her at first. Especially with "American Boy" but I checked her put anyway. LOVE Shine, Come Over,& In The rain. I will be picking u the album...