She may have quit the Big Dada record label after hitting all-time low record sales, but Speech Debelle will make her words heard on the label once again this February. For those unfamiliar with the outspoken musician, Speech Debelle sounds like a mix between a less avant garde M.I.A. and a less refined Salt-n-Pepa, along with a dub-like aura that brings out her roots.
Freedom of Speech capitalizes on its title and gives an unabashed commentary on the issues—whether social or personal—that Speech Debelle holds closest to her heart. Tracks like “Live for the Message” and “Blaze Up a Fire” express the artist’s outlook on the search for truth in her surrounding world, while “Shawshank Redemption,” “Elephant in the Living Room,” and “Angel Wings” give listeners insight into her self-identity and misguided love.
While Freedom of Speech offers a raw representation of Speech Debelle’s essence, it seems like this rawness sacrifices the fluidity and refinement that would push the album to the next level. Speech Debelle’s vocal tone and accent adds an exotic quality to the rapper’s music, but the rhymes and lyrics she uses fall flat and generally seem forced. The resulting product comes across as inorganic and mismatching in tone. Overall, Freedom of Speech sounds like a premature set of recordings that could’ve reached a much greater potential for success if the lyrics had been revised just a couple more times. As it stands, this album never fully realizes its potential to portray Speech Debelle’s self-expression in a more significant, universal manner.