"There's this singer from England called Ms. Dynamite.
She's got a CD called A Little Deeper, and it's fabulous.
It's the best thing I've heard since Mary J. Blige's No More Drama."
- Elton John, Interview Magazine
Name: Ms. Dynamite
Real Name: Niomi McLean-Daley
Date of Birth: ??/??/1981 (not obviously available anywhere - if you know, /msg me)
Place of Birth: Archway, North London
Ms. Dynamite appears to have shot out of nowhere to become the current darling of the UK music industry; she is certainly one of the most talented and original young artists to appear in the last few years. Her debut LP, A Little Deeper, received blanket plaise and won the 2002 Mercury Music Prize.
Niomi McLean-Daley was born in Archway, North London as the eldest of eleven siblings and was brought up in the not exactly lovely area (I should know, I live there) by her primary school teacher mother, who she clearly has a great deal of love and respect for:
"I’ve been lucky to have a lot of intelligent, loving people around me
who will take out five minutes to teach me things about myself without preaching at me"
Niomi had a fairly seamless ride through school, passing exams and turning down the chance to study social anthropology at Sussex University to pursue her chosen musical career. Highly influenced by the music that was played around her as a child (a mixture of reggae, soul and hip-hop), Niomi became interested in the industry late on - she began MCing in front of large crowds at the age of 17 - "It was just for a joke, never anything I took seriously" - but it was to become something she would certainly take seriously.
Released in May 2002 after nearly a year of underground circulation, the track Booo! by Sticky featuring Ms. Dynamite flew into the UK top 20. Ms. Dynamite was the face of the record with Sticky doing production and mixing. Basically a UK garage tune about clubland violence, it may be this that led some (including allmusic.com) to claim that Ms. Dynamite was a member of So Solid Crew striking out solo, but this is certainly not the case (So Solid Crew are very much South London, Dynamite could barely be more North).
A Little Deeper
Ms. Dynamite spent most of 2001 and the first half of 2002 working on her debut solo album. It was recorded in Miami, New York and Jamaica and produced by the likes of Salaam Remi and P. Diddy collaborator Punch. A Little Deeper was released on July the 2nd, 2002, to massive critical acclaim. The sound was fresh, production tight and, while the lyrics are very simplistic in places (the intro in particular has a ridiculously ill-conceived anti-drugs message), they are quite clearly from the heart. The album went on to win the Mercury Music Prize and reached number 10 in the UK charts.
The singles to be released so far include Dy-Na-Mi-Tee, a very radio friendly tune about Niomi's life growing up, It Takes More, possibly Dynamite's best known track and Put Him Out, the tale of a boyfriend who needs a good chucking.
While Ms. Dynamite is actually seen by many as a very healthy role model, some have complained about her violence promoting lyrics but this seems to be almost exclusively from the Booo! single as anyone who has heard A Little Deeper can testify:
"The shit that you promote,
A girl like me needs more."
With very strong views on certain subjects, Ms. Dynamite was also seen as promoting violence when she appeared on a "Guns on our Streets" documentary on UK television. As she puts it herself, she was talking about things she has been through and seen, and not how she necessarily thinks things should be - "I’ve been through no money, been through violence, through this that and the other, It’s not something I choose to promote, it’s something I’ve been through."