Tuesday, May 06, 2008

American Boy (f/Kanye West)

Song: American Boy (f/Kanye West)
Artist: Estelle
Album: Shine

Last week I was in the Virgin Megastore in Times Square and heard a groovy, loungy song that I immediately dug being played by the in-store DJ. It sounded vaguely familiar in a way, but I couldn’t place it so I decided to hang around the store in the hopes that he mentioned who it was. (But who was I kidding, I’m in a record store… and if they’re going to use the money to have a DJ, they’re going to be getting him to try to sell product.) So lo and behold after the song was over he mentioned it was Estelle. Of course!

Estelle (Fanta Estelle Swaray) is a female British singer, rapper, and producer. “Shine” is her second album, following “The 18th Day” which was released in 2004. I was a fan of her single(s) “Free” and “1980” from that record, but never listened to the whole thing. With “Shine,” it seems Estelle has not only pushed things forward… but also is trying to crack the elusive American market which is VERY difficult for European artists. Though with the recent successes of Leona Lewis and Amy Winehouse… maybe the tides have turned. She has collaborated with Will.I.Am, Wyclef, Cee-Lo, Swizz Beatz, John Legend, and Mark Ronson… some of the hottest in American Hip Hop & R & B.

So it wasn’t until listening to “Shine” as a whole that I realized I HAD heard “American Boy” before. Not that particular song… but the music. See, Estelle had a couple of the tracks produced by Will.I.Am of the Blackeyed Peas… and the music of “Boy” can be found as the song “Impatient” from his weak performing third solo record, “Songs About Girls.” While basically an instrumental, (aside from some whispers of “I can’t wait.”) “Impatient” had a good loungy vibe that I played a lot at cocktail parties for “mood music that lets you talk.” Estelle’s version is a bit more attention grabbing, but I totally dig it. She’s got a great voice and does nothing to hide her English accent. Blimey!

“American Boy” went to number one in the U.K., and is currently sitting at #93 here in the States. Does it have a chance?


American Boy



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