Ms Dynamite speaks before Barbican Weekender mini-festival with Rufus Wainwright and N-Dubz rapper Fazer

11:00 20 February 2012

Ms Dynamite. Photo by Alex Lake

Ms Dynamite. Photo by Alex Lake

Archant

Ms Dynamite talks candidly about the fall-out from achieving huge success at a young age, ahead of her performance at the Barbican Weekender next weekend, which also features singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright

At the age of 21, Archway-born Niomi McLean-Daley, better known as award-winning performer Ms Dynamite, had the world at her feet.

Her 2002 debut album A Little Deeper found both commercial success and critical acclaim, spawning the rapper-cum-singer a host of glowing reviews for her politically-charged lyrics and insightful social commentary.

The record sold over a million copies and helped Ms Dynamite pick up a range of accolades, including two BRIT awards and three MOBO awards, not to mention the prestigious Mercury Music Prize.

Since then, nearly a decade has passed and only one more Ms Dynamite album has seen the light of day – she has even gone on record as describing her Mercury Prize win as a “curse” for the unwanted attention it brought.

Talking ahead of a highly-anticipated show with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican on March 3, the 30-year-old said: “I was a very angry, hurt and unstable character as a teenager. We experienced a lot of hardship growing up – my family breaking up, I had brothers and sisters pass away – I became quite angry.”

She also now acknowledges the difficulties she had adjusting to her initial fame, explaining: “Being in that position, it was a huge pressure. I guess, in hindsight, I wasn’t coping in the best way.

“I think getting out of music when I did was a blessing because it gave me time to grow as a person and be who I am today.”

The mother-of-one, who used her time off to commit full attention to raising her eight-year-old son Shavaar, is currently working on a new album to be released sometime this year and believes the future looks bright.

She said: “As an artist I’m 100 per cent confident, I’m much more in control. I’ve got a good feeling about everything - I’m in love with making music again.”

At the Barbican show next week, Ms Dynamite will be sharing the bill with Tottenham-born rapper Skepta and fellow MCs Devlin and Fazer, as part of the Urban Classic concert alongside the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Describing her collaboration with the orchestra, Ms Dynamite said: “I’d advise anybody to come down and have a listen. It’s two different worlds meeting one another and blending and working together – it’s very interesting.”

The evening performance is one of a variety of events taking place at the venue for this year’s Barbican Weekender, titled Urban Stories.

On the Sunday evening, singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright will be joined by the orchestra for a UK premiere of his rendition of five Shakespeare sonnets.

The weekend, billed by organisers as ‘Shakespeare meets hip-hop’, will involve two days of free events, including performances from Barbican Young Poets and workshops led by the Hip Hop Shakespeare Company, in addition to the evening concerts.

For more information and to buy tickets for the evening performances, visit www.barbican.org.uk/weekender.

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