Black History Month: Ms “Dy-Na-Mi-T-ee”

#Black History Month #Ms Dynamite #Urban Music History

She’s one of the UK’s most recognisable voices from the past 20 years, Her name has become synonymous with the early 2000s, and she is a pillar in the UK garage/urban genre. The one and only Ms.Dynamite, British rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, recipient of the Mercury Music Prize, two-time Brit Award winner and three-time MOBO Award winner.

Niomi McLean-Daley grew up in North London with an extended family of 11 brothers and sisters. Like many West Indian families, she grew up listening to Reggae and discovered hip-hop at the age of 12. Before she realised music was destined for her, she wanted to become a primary school teacher or a social worker. After starting out in a pirate radio station called RAW FM, Ms.Dynamite broke into performing, appearing with garage band So Solid Crew on their hit ‘They Don't Know’. After meeting Richard Forbes [Sticky] on a night out in the West End, the two began working on her debut single, "Boo!," licensed from DJ Jason Kaye's Social Circles label to London Records.
Soon after this release, she blessed the urban music scene with her unforgettable verse on So-Solid Crews’ ‘Envy’. Here, we saw Ms Dynamite convey a unique style of rap that had never been performed by a female rapper from the UK. Many would later adopt this same style and accredit the north London legend for their influence, including Alisia Dixon, Misha B and Steff Lon Don.

Despite only releasing two studio albums, her contribution to the UK scene is exceptionally profound. At the tender age of 21, she became the first black woman to have won the Mercury Prize in 2002 with her debut album. ‘A Little Deeper’. This legendary album later went on to receive a record-breaking six nominations for the MOBO awards, taking home three.  The 70-minute masterpiece has become a pillar in the UK’s urban music scene. In the past 20 years since her debut album, Ms Dynamite has gone on to bless us with another album, countless features, and has won two Brit Awards including the best female solo artist. 

We’re well aware that the UK music industry has and continues to be male-dominated; however, Ms.Dynamite never let this discourage her ambition. She once stated, “We were standing shoulder to shoulder with over 25 men. As girls, no one was gonna give us the mic, but something in me made me push to the front, grab the mic, and just start MCing”, aren't we all glad she did.

With a mindset like this, it is no wonder why her debut album has become a staple in Black British music culture. Well-articulated lyrics, mirroring the social conscience often absent in the materialistic world of British urban music. Lyrics like ‘Tell me who wants to know? What when who where or how you do your ho? Certainly not me cause baby personally I like to be challenged mentally’ show Ms Dynamite keeping her art true to her personal self as she mentioned "there are a lot more important things to be talking about than 'I'm so beautiful and I'm so wonderful, and I've got so much money," Her legacy will forever be cemented in history as one of the UK’s most influential urban musician. And If you're willing to go a little deeper, I’m sure you’d agree, she should be viewed as one of the most influential women to emerge from the UK.