Ms. Dynamite Tackles A Stateside Career

Excerpted from the magazine for

2003 is already shaping up to be quite the year for British MC/singer Ms. Dynamite. She recently released her debut album, "A Little Deeper" in the U.S. via Interscope, made her U.S. TV debut on "Saturday Night Live," and is expecting a child.

Not bad for a 21-year-old who never fully considered conquering America with her sounds until Interscope approached her.

"I was quite shocked, even though it was something that people in the U.K. often talked about once I started to get success over there; everyone -- in terms of the record labels, management, the media -- thought I had a good chance to conquer the States," says Dynamite, who is signed to Interscope sister label Polydor in the U.K. "I want to spread my message all over the world, as far as my legs will take me and as long as people are interested. When Interscope actually approached me and I had to take it seriously, I was really shocked. I thought, 'Do I really want to do this?' But I like a challenge."

Often compared to Lauryn Hill, Ms. Dynamite's combination of infectious grooves, conscious lyrics, and stunning looks would seem to be enough to make her a star here. But many British artists who soar in their homeland -- where Ms. Dynamite has had platinum sales success and won Brit and Music of Black Origin awards -- have a tough time getting off the ground in the U.S.

"It's not something that worries me," Ms. Dynamite says plainly of her chances here. "I can only do my best. People can either enjoy my music or they won't. There's no sense in me worrying about something I have no control over. I hope that the message within my music speaks louder and over the fact that I'm a British artist. I hope that what I'm saying and how I say it will connect more with people than the fact that I'm British."

Lead single "It Takes More" seems to be doing just that. "It was my first single in Britain as well," Ms. Dynamite says. "I would like people to judge me on their first perception of me. I would like them to judge me on what I think is the closest to me in terms of my songs, and 'It Takes More' says a lot about me. It talks about issues that a lot of other people don't talk about. It also offers a contrast to what's already out there."

"It Takes More" and buzz single "Dy-na-mi-tee" have played a pivotal role in the campaign to break Ms. Dynamite in the U.S. "Dy-na-mi-tee" received more than 1 million hits when it was posted on AOL's music site, while "It Takes More" is currently in rotation at MTV.

Released March 11, A Little Deeper has sold 10,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. The album debuted at No. 80 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 179 on The Billboard 200.

Excerpted from the April 5, 2003, issue of Billboard. The full original text of the article is available in the Premium Services section.

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