(AllHipHop Features) Those who want to put British performer Estelle into a particular genre of music should be aware the singer/rapper rejects any labels attributed to her.
Previous Estelle projects have combined elements of many different sounds, and the upcoming True Romance LP will continue that streak of embracing all aspects of musical expression.
"Ever single one of my albums have multiple genres," says Estelle. "I'm not a an R&B artist. I'm not a rap artist. I'm not a trap artist. I make music."
The music Estelle has recently made makes a bold statement about the off-time between serious relationships and female sexual empowerment. The sensual single "Make Her Say (Beat It Up)" has grabbed people's attention for its blatant appreciation for the joy of sex.
The track's two separate visuals further the carnal imagery with the explicit version featuring a cat positioned between two statuesque legs, while the second video drew inspiration from HBO's long-running documentary series Real Sex. The latter focuses on real couples, friends, and in some cases, complete strangers sharing their sexual experiences with the camera verbally and physically.
Of course, some observers were critical of the idea of sex being presented in such a way. Estelle knew "Make Her Say" would produce uneasy responses, but that is exactly what she hoped for.
"I wanted something that you could have more just than a feeling about, but have a reaction about," reveals Estelle. "We wanted to show real people, real sex. Something that was more humanity versus something that was airbrushed. The video makes you think extra sexy, perfect people rolling around having sex. It was like, 'No, this is just for people. Everyone does it. Everyone gets into this space of wanting to have great sex.' This is what I think that is."
True Romance will cover the topic of sex, but the album is mainly centered around four themes: passion, courage, true romance and the bulls**t. The entire project is a reflection on the period in life between the end of a relationship and the beginning of another. But don't think Estelle is rehashing the typical "break-up album" archetype. True Romance is an adventure in being free to explore the single life.
"I broke up with someone a couple of years ago, and it's just been the interim period," says Estelle. "I thought that would be more interesting than continuing the break-up story or skipping to a relationship that's non-existent. Meanwhile I'm still dating, having fun, enjoying being single. I wanted to write about this instead."
The songwriter's varied tales about her time as a single lady is properly complimented by her inclusion of different musical styles. The 90's House influenced "Something Good," the power pop ballad "Conquerer," and the Caribbean tinted "She Will Love" all provide colorful backdrops to Estelle's free woman and proud lyrics.
The creator of 2011's "Thank You" has not forgotten the soul on her new album. Estelle also brings the classic Motown sound with the song "Silly Girls."
"That song just felt like magic. We took like an hour to record it. I changed and edited it a bit, but more or less kept it the same," Estelle states. "It just feels like soul the way we grew up on it. That was the point of it. I wanted it to grab people in a way when you hear Marvin Gaye or Gladys Knight sing. I wanted it to grab people like that, and I think we did it."
As Estelle attempts to tap into listeners' emotional core with True Romance, she plans to accomplish this goal without a lot of assistance from other artists. Unlike 2008's Shine (which featured will.i.am, Kanye West, Kardinal Offishall, John Legend, and Cee Lo Green) or 2011's All of Me (which featured Legend, Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Rick Ross, Janelle Monáe, and Nas), True Romance is not expected to have many guest appearances.
"It's my album. I hate when you have fifty different people on the record. It's like a compilation album. So if I put anybody on a record, I want to put them on because it will make the record better," explains Estelle. "There might be [a feature on it] by time September rolls around, but right now I'm living with it and seeing who else will work on what records."
Like the plot of the Quentin Tarantino penned film True Romance, often times love and its aftermath can be extremely messy and art can be the most appropriate way to articulate that message. Estelle's artistic take on "true romance" is her personal outlet to share real-life experiences of dwelling in the purgatory period between breaking up and being in love again.
"Fortunately for me, my life isn't told on the blogs. You hear it when I release music. I'm not that artist. I don't do that. I don't think it's necessary," says Estelle. "I do vent in my music. I think it's important to just keep it art. Keep it music."
For more information about Estelle visit her revamped website www.estelledarlings.com.