If you’ll permit the cliché (and I don’t think you have any choice), you can’t judge a book by its cover; far from your typical guitar-strumming singer/songwriter, first-time featuree Selah Sue comes with a socially-conscious, Caribbean-informed style that places her comfortably in the lineage of Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. On the newly-released U.S. version of international breakout single Raggamuffin, the Leefdal, Belgium repper’s reggae influences, as well as her connection to the streets, are readily apparent. Pairing spare acoustic-guitar riffs and ringing keys with a rolling, syncopated rhythm section, beatsmith Patrice creates an ambiance of quiet determination to match the singer’s bars, which depict a poor youth struggling to escape hardship and strain with only his wits as a weapon. Lending his guest rhymes to the front, J. Cole offers a perspective from the other side of success: “Promised when I made it I’d write my hooks for the poor / Now I’m hella faded and got my foot to the floor / While I’m pushin’ this Porsche…” Craving more? Then be sure to pick up a copy of Selah Sue’s self-titled Stateside debut on August 21, when it hits record stores and online retailers via Columbia Records.
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