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By: Natalie McKenzie
If you haven’t already heard of N-Dubz, you soon will. These three young talents have been ripping up the UK music scene and sliding into our charts with remarkable ease. With no record company promotion or distribution, this band is one of the rare few that have managed to push through the barriers to enjoy both commercial success and a dedicated hardcore following of fans.
N-Dubz - Uncle B (2008)
Due to a lack of corporate fat cats and over- production, they have managed to make an album that is raw and downright dirty - just the way music should be!
The North London trio are only in their twenties but have been slaving away in studios since they were 13 years old. Tulisa and Dappy are cousins. Frazer is a childhood friend. Tulisa is the incredible and very beautiful female singer in the band whilst Dappy the sexy lyrical master. Beat man Fazer drops the raps and produces.
They’ve had underground success for years now through various channels under the name Lickle Rinsers Crew but have been pretty much independent throughout. Finally, in 2007, the band were awarded with their hard work and honored with the highly respected Best Newcomer Award at the MOBOs.
‘Uncle B’ is their full debut album and singles ‘Ouch’ and ‘Papa (Can you Hear Me)’ have been playing non stop on the UK music channels. The band's fan base has gone super sonic in the past year and I must admit, they had me at the infamous lyrics “My name’s Shaniqua and what?!” - an absolutely golden line in the hit ‘Ouch’.
I caught up with singer/songwriter Tulisa to find out how the band have been coping with the pressure of sweet success.
“I feel like God has really blessed us," she said.. “Although at the same time I have to pinch myself because the success and support we’ve had has been amazing. I am very appreciative and grateful for everything.”
Sadly, in 2007, the bands manager, Byron (Dappy’s dad) passed away. He had been a major force in the band's career and had supported them all the way. Byron had played in Mungo Jerry back in the day and had nurtured the band through their formative years.
“It was a horrible time for us, we just try and work hard to make him proud," Tulisa said.
‘Papa’, the single in tribute to Byron, went to number one on YouTube’s ‘most discussed’ chart and was second only to Obama’s acceptance speech on their ‘most viewed’ videos list.
Their secret? They really do have a universal appeal. Tulisa remarks of the album, “you can expect a variety of sounds and a song for everyone.”
They stand out because the sound - a mixture of rap, grime and R&B - is seamed together with amazingly catchy choruses and fresh, youthful, bold lyrics delivered in the style of London town (innit!). Sounding like no one else, they belt out tracks with the confidence of performers with many more years experience.
Stand-out tracks of the album are definitely ‘Ouch’-(the perfect single), ‘Better Not Waste my Time’ for the punchy, fuck-you lyrics, ‘Love for my Slums’ for something a little grittier and razor- edged, and Tulisa’s favorite track ‘Wouldn’t You’. ‘Defeat You’ – a collaboration with the U.K’s Chipmunk, is a metaphorical slap in the face to anyone foolish enough to step up.
They seem to know the formula for a great track. Dappy’s slick, Fazer’s cool, and Tulisa is quite simply the cherry on top of a pretty raucous cake - sexy for the boys but still real for the ladies, with a voice that knocks the shit out of most of the girls found shaking their ass in today’s urban music videos. N-Dubz are clear on their mission “to break down the doors for urban music.”
Despite a few recent UK-USA exports doing very well on this unforgiving industry, N-Dubz assure us they have no plans to ditch us for the heady heights of Hollywood.
“I’m not in this for that kind of fame; I like to think of myself as a musician so I just go with the flow when I’m in the public eye,” Tulisa said.
Asked what they would do if their musical dreams unravelled, Tulisa said, “I would be an actress, Fazer would be an athlete and Dappy would be a footballer.”
Don’t be fooled by their youth. This is a band with brains, musical talent, wisdom beyond their years, and an acid wit that’ll have you giggling to yourself on the bus! Get ready, Telisa and crew are about to take over the world… ‘Na Na Niii!’
“You never know in this World, but I pray for good things."