Once-Homeless Rapper Now on Mercury Shortlist

Speech Debelle has been compared to Lauryn Hill, Tracy Chapman
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 22, 2009 12:20 PM CDT
Speech Debelle is shown in a picture from her MySpace page.   (MySpace)
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(Newser) – A rapper who spent four years homeless in London is one of five female artists on the shortlist for Britain’s prestigious Mercury Prize, the Independent reports. Speech Debelle, kicked out of her house at 19, spent time in hostels and other drug-infested stops on the wrong side of London's tracks—inspiration for her debut album, Speech Therapy, she says.

“I think it deserves to have this,” says Debelle of her music, which has been compared to that of Lauryn Hill and Tracy Chapman. “It is a good album and all the musicians are excellent and everyone had an understanding of what we were trying to achieve from the outset.” (Read more Speech Debelle stories.)