UK hip-hop hope's promising debut offering

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Estelle – The 18th Day

Hyped in some quarters as “the most respected female rapper in Britain”, there’s no doubting 24-year-old west Londoner Estelle’s proficient mic skills or innocuous dial-a-diva warble.

After years of guest spots and shop work, she scored her first Top 20 hit this summer with the syrupy childhood yarn “1980”. Like many albums by hot young stars, The 18th Day is precision-designed for mass appeal at the expense of its protagonist’s personality. A shame, as formulaic R&B like “Hey Girl” or the plastic Motown soul of “Dance With Me”, written by a squad of US producers, dilute what’s otherwise a sassy debut.