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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. Since then she’s curated an exhibition of art by prisoners, run a Caribbean food truck, and was a semi-finalist on Celebrity Masterchef. She’s got a third album out this year which is absolute joy from start to finish, and she’s supporting The Mouse Outfit at NAC this month, so I spoke to her about Michael Jackson, winning the Mercury Prize and her go-to feel-good recipe.


“You know what’s interesting is that it was the first hip hop album to win the Mercury, and that doesn’t get spoken about.”


then? I know for definite the first poem I wrote which was about Father Christmas. I remember the teacher reading it and kind of looking at me strangely because we weren’t asked to write a poem. It was something I just took upon myself to do and I don’t think I really knew what it was necessarily. It’s hard to say..I was writing poetry and... writing out song and rap lyrics, things that had cadence and rhymes. How come you decided to be a rapper rather than a singer?


Y


I think I’m in a place that I’m comfortable with, and


12 / MAY 2017 / OUTLINEONLINE.CO.UK


ou started writing poetry aged nine – what were your poems about


I think that after so many years if I was going to be a singer I should have been training to be one in the same way that I trained to be a rapper. I haven’t worked those muscles so it’s not for me. I understand Michael Jackson is one of your musical heroes? I don’t know that he’s one of my heroes but I do think he’s important to pretty much all of us in some way. I was about 13 and in the kitchen when I heard his song Human Nature and I had this big emotional reaction to it and started crying because I could hear every element of the track – the bass, the drums – it was the first time I listened to a song and heard all the separate instruments. It just


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