Princess Nokia, Kelela
" Throw shade at this smooth urban jazz queen at your own risk. "
First off, allow me to gush about the moniker IAMDDB. I think it’s amazing. It rolls rhythmically off the tongue, short and recognisable, yet concealing the artist’s given name, Diane Debrito. But best of all, spliced subtly into a song, it’s a brand, a namedrop, a lyric line, a statement of arrival, a confident introduction, all in one. The only suitable response to hearing “IAMDDB” is a fervent, approving “YESYOUARE”.
And rightly so, as there’s much more to unpack here than just the name. With a series of EPs, the most recent at the time of writing being Hoodrich, Vol. 3, IAMDDB has ensconced herself firmly at the top of the Mancunian urban scene. Influenced by her father’s love of jazz, she wraps her sultry vocals around smooth, slinky beats, like dimming the lights in a 21st century speakeasy. But best watch out – if you come at her, she’s not going to take it lightly. The demure demeanour can quickly turn, spitting vicious rhymes at haters and detractors, backed by bouncingly defiant trap beats to hit you with an A+ banger like “Shade”.
On stage at ESNS 18, she navigates between tracks with cheeky self-assuredness, unintimidated by a packed venue of mostly curious foreigners, there because of the hype rather than fandom or appreciation. But the hype is real – even if you’re not into the music, you have to admit IAMDDB is a heady cocktail of raw talent, streetwise attitude, contemporary trends and tradition. The queen has claimed her throne.