The first thing about Speech Debelle that strikes the ear is a contrast. Her voice is warm, youthful and listenable, and if you heard her in the background you might assume that her lyrics were the same. You’d be better placed tuning into them. In common with her new label-mate Roots Manuva, she’s astoundingly honest in her music, detailing and exorcising some very personal demons. That isn’t to say she’s another run of the mill rapper with more complaints than insights. Quite the opposite. Like all musicians worth listening to, she draws you into her universe and makes you glad you visited. There’s always a thaw to the chillier moments.
‘Searching’ is her debut single, and a perfect example of the offbeat, folky production that will litter the forthcoming album, as well as the whisper-in-the-ear quality of her vocals. One thing is certain, hip-hop has never been done in quite this way before. ‘Searching’ makes you wonder why not.