The land of cricket and crumpets has been ruffled of late by outspoken 21-year-old rapper-singer Ms. Dynamite. Her debut, ”A Little Deeper,” rails against racism, the record biz, and war while deploying U.K. garage beats and pop melodies. Since its British release last June, the album has gone platinum, and Ms. D (née Niomi McLean-Daley) landed a spot on Eminem’s 2002 European tour, two Brit awards (England’s version of the Grammys), and the Mercury Music Prize (for the year’s best British CD). We visited her in New York City, where she was promoting the U.S. release of ”Deeper.” The disc is armed with twin singles: the gangsta-bashing ”It Takes More” (”…how many Africans died/For the baguettes on your Rolex?”) and ”Dy-na-mi-tee,” which — natch — quotes a certain lanky ’70s sitcom star.
Do you even know who Jimmie Walker is?
Not really. Everyone keeps asking me about this, because I guess that’s where we got the ”Dy-no-mite!” sample. I gather he’s really famous here. He was on a popular show or something? I’m English. I haven’t got a clue.
He’s still around, on ”Hollywood Squares.” But, yeah, that line is from the sitcom ”Good Times.”
I’ve gotta see that one day.
Would you rather be in London, where everyone knows you, or New York, where no one does?
Here! I love it. My biggest problem with what I do is the lack of privacy. I’m a loud person, but I’m really private. Being here, where no one gives a s — – who I am, it’s great.
We’re trying to change that.
Oh, God! [laughs]
With you and Craig David and the Streets doing so well in the U.K., is British R&B and hip-hop finally taking off?
I like the Streets and Craig David, but I would not consider Craig David urban. We see him as pop. And the Streets is not like conventional urban music; it’s more like alternative. Hip-hop and R&B are supported in the U.K., but usually only when it’s American, never when it’s British. We have a real problem supporting each other, in terms of black music. But there’s beginning to be a movement. Every kid in Britain, if they don’t want to be a footballer, wants to be a singer or an MC.
What set you apart from other MCs?
At first, it was that I was a girl, ’cause there were no other female MCs. Then, as more females came into it and the scene really took off, you had to be good. I think lyrical content set me apart. A lot of other girls that were MCing were just cussing men or talking about how beautiful they were. I think that’s a problem, especially in Britain…. That’s how society is there: Everything’s taboo. No one talks [about anything].