Her new track Wait A Minute (Just A Touch) is infectious; produced by man of the moment Will.I.Am, it boasts a catchy, playful hook coupled with Estelle’s no nonsense lyrics, over a killer beat - it has ‘hit’ stamped all over it. Estelle has firmly established her place as one of the best rappers in the UK-period and her forthcoming album looks set to reaffirm that position.
Britishhiphop caught up with the talented West Londoner to find out how she become such great friends with John Legend, exactly where she has been, and how she managed to get an enviable features list on her forthcoming album! Read on.
BHH: First of all Estelle, where have you been?
Estelle: (Laughs). Where have I been- I’ve been living! Straight down, I’ve just been living. I’ve just been trying to do some different shit, trying to have something to write about and it turns out I had about a hundred songs to write.
BHH: Lilly Allen often spoke about feeling homesick when she was promoting in the US- did you find it hard being away from home for such a long time?
Estelle: No, not really. I don’t have like 20 million friends- I have two or three good friends that I talk to outside of my family members- so to me it was more about staying in contact with my really good friends and they know what my work is like, so they don’t even care if I’m away. Plus now we have Skype and I Tunes and MySpace and all that. I don’t feel lonely and I have a lot of ‘music’ family over there (in the US) so it works.
BHH: What did you miss the most- it feels like you’ve been away for a while.
Estelle: I know, well I was mostly backwards and forwards, so I would do a month or six weeks at a time out there during recording, so I feel like I’ve been away for a long time. The thing that I missed is Ribena and shoe shopping- well, actually just general shopping!
BHH: What’s the shopping saying?
Estelle: It’s dodo- Portobello Road, Ridley market- I love you!
BHH: (Laughs), for real. Your album track listing reads like a genie said you can work with anyone you like- how did you get a line up like that?
Estelle: (Laughs). Part of it was the people around me and part of it was the producers and me having faith in God- he didn’t bring me this far for me to come back with rubbish. So I made a list of people I wanted to work with and was like any three of the names that I gave you will be great and they got me like 15 so I was like cool! A lot came through John (Legend), a lot came through the Label and a lot came through people coming to us. Like Neyo’s people hollered and they were like can we get on the album!
BHH: In a recent John Legend interview, he expressed how impressed he was with your song writing and your singing abilities. You both seem to be on the same page, musically…
Estelle: ...from the jump it was like that, it’s not too hard with him. There’s only a couple people who get along like that, like Tami and Marvin but from a level of musicality- it works. That was from the jump- I heard his voice on a mix-tape before he blew up and I vocaled a song and went out to New York. He just came in and did it, I was like hmm so, what do you want to eat! Yeah it was me, my sister and him and (Baby) Blue at the time. We were just chilling, eating Chinese and working. So every time we get in the studio it’s that same vibe. We both get music and we both understand it and what I don’t know he teaches me and what he doesn’t know I teach him. People don’t get it; they’re like what is this? You two are f**king aren’t you? No. No! If is was two guys they wouldn’t say that. It’s just music; I would be stupid to turn down a collaboration just because of who he is. He is a beautiful person- just a really good guy. He sets the standard, he’s such a motivated, talented, beautiful person – he’s like a brother.
BHH: Seeing you two perform you can see that you really do vibe off each other but do the rumours annoy you?
Estelle: It makes me laugh. I haven’t worked this hard for people to think that’s the only reason why I’m signed. Think hard. It’s boring!
BHH: For real. So the BET Best UK Hip Hop nominations have just been announced.
Estelle: Yeah I heard, big up Klash. I’m happy that Klash got nominated; I’ve got his album and its fire! I know the producer (Joe Buddha), he’s good friend of mine from way back and the dude is fire! They don’t spit like this no more in London.
BHH: Do you think collaborations between UK and US artists and events like the BET Hip Hop Awards and will allow us to penetrate the US more?
Estelle: Yeah it will help; we just need to take as far as we can go with it. I’m not just content with the UK- I want to be all over the map, I wonna be in Japan, I wonna be in Hong Kong. If that’s the place that is gonna facilitate ‘it’ happening then shit, that’s where I’m gonna be and if anyone else wants to follow the example- please feel free but every single artist is individual. If it is an option for you- take it, if it’s not, than don’t but choose your shit, don’t sit down here and complain about what we’re not doing here.
BHH: You’re new single Just A Touch (Wait A Minute), is doing well on the radio- when’s the video coming out?
Estelle: I just finished filming it. Yeah I’m keeping it sexy in the video but fashionable.
BHH: We’re you going for something different with the single?
Estelle: We were just trying to make a good single. It’s Will.I.Am and I was like I cannot walk out of here with less than a smash, I can’t leave here with less than heat! We were vibing in the studio and Will was like you should do the ‘what, what, wait a minute’ and I was like- that’s the hook! Then John came in and was like you should sing ‘just a touch’, so that’s how we all work, we put the melody down and that was it.
BHH: You’re taking no prisoners with the lyrics in the song…
Estelle: Yeah, it’s that real talk! The funniest line for me was ‘rap it up, ‘cause I aint carrying your embryo’. Every time I said it everyone was dying, they were like (in an American accent) you said embryo!
BHH: Why do you think female rappers get such a tough ride?
Estelle: I think they get a tough ride because some of them don’t see themselves above and beyond the bull shit and no ones really given them that break and I don’t know if they know how to take it. My thing is I’ve never put myself up against anyone; there is a lot out there though. Blues coming out still, Tor’s doing her thing and she’s heavy- those are the two that are doing their thing and being consistent. My main thing is be consistent with your shit; I think no one is being consistent with it other then the two I mentioned.
You really have to step your game up, these guys are taking it over- they are hungry and they have a step forward because there’s more of them out here and people are used to seeing them. When you come out there be the difference; come out here like you’re the only girl on it. Don’t come out trying to be hard like a dude-you can be a girl, wear a skirt and handle your business- make people respect your shit- that’s what I do.
BHH: Where can we see you next?
Estelle: I’ll be live at the BBC Electric Proms on the 24th October and at Jazz Café very soon.
The album is due for release early 2008 and includes production from Wyclef Jean, Mark Ronson, Will.I.Am, Cee-lo and Swiss Beatz, as well as features from John Legend and Kanye West.
The Single Wait A Minute (Just A Touch) is out 19th November.
By: Michelle Adabra