It’s been four years since British R&B singer Estelle dropped her U.S. debut Shine. Today, she’s releasing her second album All Of Me. Known for being a dual, singing and rapping threat, her current ballad “Thank You” has been compared to the heartbreaking songs that the legendary Mary J Blige is best known for. She took some time out her busy schedule to sit down with theGrio to talk about her international fanbase, why it took so long to for this project to come to fruition, and the new British music invasion in America.
theGrio: It’s been a long four years since Shine, what can your fans expect from your new album?
Estelle: I’d say with this album, it got a lot more real. With taking so much time off, I was able to focus on me, and I was writing about the personal experiences and drama I was going through.
Your followers are loyal, and you’re one of the more engaging artists on Twitter. What has social media done for you and your relationship with your fans?
I love that Twitter gives me the ability to relate to my fans and gives me validation that they relate to the songs that I put out. They send me so many good tweets and very positive feedback. My mentality is why not show the love back?
The song “Thank You” is getting a lot of retweets and spins all over the country. Why do you think this song, especially, connects w/so many people?
I think everyone knows what heartbreak and loss can feel like. It’s shocking, because while my song “American Boy” came out, it was a song that everyone liked, but with “Thank You” it’s just a human experience that everyone has been through.
Were you channeling Mary J. Blige on that song?
It wasn’t on purpose, but yes. I love Mary J. Blige and, especially with that type of song, the emotion that comes out is natural. She makes ‘woman anthems,’ and that’s how I believe “Thank You” sounds.
Rick Ross, Janelle Monáe, and Chris Brown are some of the heavyweights featured on your new album. How did you establish relationships with these artists?
Well, everyone that is featured on this album, I am a fan of their work but we like each other as human beings. We’re all friends offline and that’s the type of relationship we’re working from. It makes each project sound organic. Janelle Monáe, I love how she continues to stay true to herself and she’s such a beautiful person. With Chris Brown, I admire his entire life. He’s not scared to try something new and he’s always trying to evolve. He’s actually a very nice guy. I love him.
Only a few names come to mind of rappers who can sing like Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott. Is there one that you prefer more over the other?
No, not all, it takes the same amount of lung capacity so for me it’s either or. I was doing both equally when I first came out. Although my friend John Legend encouraged me to sing more on my US debut, It takes more effort to hit those certain notes.
Who was your most unique collaboration?
My most unique collaboration involved a producer from London, and he didn’t want me to sing or rap, he just wanted me to talk. I read a poem for him over a beat. It was so strange but it worked.
Who is Estelle listening to right now?
Marvin Gaye never leaves my side. Nor does Ella Fitzgerald and Mary J. Blige. And Big Sean. He’s so talented as a rapper, and a confident artist.
In the past four years, Adele and the late Amy Winehouse have been part of the British wave that has hit the U.S. Do you feel they have occupied a space that you should be owning?
Oh no, I don’t believe in none of that. There is only one Estelle and only one Adele, and they each occupy their own lane. I wish all my British artists the best, but we are all not the same.
Follow Kyle Harvey on Twitter at @HarveyWins