BET Named the following inidividuals as the 2011 BET Awards Nominees for Best International Act in the UK:
1) V.V. Brown
V.V. Brown is a singer, a songwriter, a performer, multi-instrumentalist and a producer. In this 24-year-old’s world, love sounds like the perfect melody. Both are difficult to define she says, but both pour out of the songs on her debut album. This is music which sounds like performance: dramatic, charismatic and, frequently, as mad as a box of frogs. This is high definition, high concept pop with scuffed edges and laddered tights. Leading the charge is Crying Blood, written on V V’s one-string guitar, which colourfully illustrates Brown’s penchant for mixing upbeat melodies with lyrics specializing in full-on despair. If the music is mashed potatoes, V V’s songs must therefore be Smash hits, but there’s nothing instant or synthetic about these pop tunes.
Crazy Amazing came like an explosion of joy for V V, but flashback just a couple of years and things weren’t so peachy. She’d skipped university to pursue music and, when she signed to a major label at the age of 19, things looked like they were fitting into place. She found herself in LA, working with big producers and accidentally ending up providing backing vocals for the Pussycat Dolls’ debut album. But something wasn’t quite right. “I lost myself completely,” she remembers. The music wasn’t right and Vanessa parted company with the label: three years down the drain. It took everything that happened with that first deal for her to say: “I SHALL NOT COMPROMISE.” Returning home completely broke and broken hearted, she threw up extraordinary songs which scored V V her new deal with Island. Today VV has performed at two European music festivals, become a successful model, a fashion maven with a retail website. No stranger to BET networks, V V performed Shark In The Water at the 2010 Black Girls Rock! special, and has appeared on BET International.
Jahmaal Noel Fyff, known by his stage name Chipmunk, is an English hip-hop rapper and songwriter from Tottenham, London. In 2008, he signed a record deal with Columbia Records of Sony Music UK. He has successfully released five top-ten hits on the UK Singles Chart, of which Oopsy Daisy debuted at number one. He released his debut album, I Am Chipmunk in 2009, which charted at number two on the UK Albums Chart.
The album’s first single, Champion, featuring Chris Brown, was an emotive, epic re-entry into the music world. The single, which stormed into the charts at No.2 with over 90,000 sales in the first week, has so far received over 4million views on YouTube and was A-Listed on Radio 1, 1Xtra and Capital; a great set-up for Chipmunk’s incoming second record. Champion, and future singles from ‘Transition’ sees Chipmunk return to his MC roots, with a record that is harder, darker and full of intricate lyrical complexities. While some of his earlier singles had an overt pop sensibility, Transition returns lyrically and sonically to his underground roots. Also heavily involved in producing the album, in some respects Chipmunk A&R'd his own record. "This album isn't about me trying to 'break America,'" he cautions. "This is me trying to make the best possible album I can make for my UK fans who love Mavado as well as Wretch. It shows the direction I want to go as an artist."
3) Laura Izibor
The foundation begins with soul," explains 22-year-old singer/songwriter/producer Laura Izibor of her passionate, piano-guided songs. After one listen to the powerful, honey-tinged vocals on Let The Truth Be Told, one thing is for sure. For Laura Izibor, it's got to be real. At age 15, Izibor won a prestigious national performance competition, the "2FM Song Contest." At 17, she started work on her debut album, taking the time to really hone her songs. Let The Truth Be Told was recorded over the course of four years in a diverse range of cities: New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Dublin among them. Laura also performed live constantly during this period, finding her true home onstage. Having performed several sold-out shows in Ireland, and opened for acts including James Brown, Angie Stone, and The Roots, she's earned the affectionate moniker "The Soul of Ireland" from the folks back home.
Izibor resisted the urge to feature established artists on various tracks, instead creating a revealing, and very personal, document of this moment in her life. "I didn't want to be anybody's protégé," she says. "It's very tempting to put in the reinforcements, but for my debut album I wanted it to be 100% from me." Izibor has found that airing her heartfelt take on life and love has translated to the hopes and struggles of various characters, as well as to the people at home watching them. Reaping the rewards for her organic efforts, Laura won a 2010 BMI European Pop Award for From My Heart To Yours! When asked about her album, she responded, "I hope people take away a sense of honesty and realness in the record. They're just songs written from a really sincere place, and hopefully people can connect to it on some level and relate their own lives to it as well.
Joseph Junior Adenuga, better known as Skepta, is an English MC from Tottenham, London. Originally from and born to Nigerian parents, he moved from Lagos to London at age three. He is a producer and DJ commonly associated with the North London Grime scene, including Roll Deep and Boy Better Know. The name "Skepta" originated from the word Sceptre, which is what a magician uses. He did not like the way it was spelt and felt that he wanted a unique stage name so 'that he could type "Skepta" in YouTube and only he would come up.' So, he changed it. Skepta started his music career after he won a MC battle with over 300 people contesting beating Tempa T in the final. He also formed a partnership with his brother JME and became renowned throughout Greater London for his hit single (he also produced), Private Caller.
It's certainly stood him in good stead so far – and this year, Skepta pulled off one of the biggest coups yet among his peers in attracting the eye of none other than P. Diddy, the hip-hop titan who took to Twitter in search of an artist to give his new Diddy Dirty Money project's lead single a grime twist. The response was overwhelming from Diddy's UK fans, and one name popped up again and again: Skepta. Charismatic and distinctive as an MC, he had also produced some of the decade's most seminal grime beats; he was the ideal choice to represent the UK on the world stage. When the annals of grime are written, Skepta will be considered as crucial to its development; he stood out from the beginning. He's come a long way since then, and even further from his early years, growing up with little money to spare. Skepta himself is proud of the path he's forged, and is continuing to forge. "People are now realizing that there's success to be had in music," he says. "Back in the day, the only path out was football. It's good to show the youth that there's another path."
5) Tinchy Stryder
Kwasi Danquah, better known by his stage name Tinchy Stryder, is an English rapper from the UK. The story of the Prince of Grime’s rise to chart topping success is extraordinary. In 2006, with his career apparently in the doldrums after an initial burst of interest in his crew, Ruff Sqwad and a couple of guest appearances with The Streets, he accepted the invitation to appear at a grime night in that legendary hotbed of urban music, Norwich. After the show, the club’s promoters, Archie Lamb and Jack Foster, asked to manage him: he agreed. His second album, ‘Catch 22’, debuted in the charts at number 2 and went gold. He founded his own publishing company, Takeover/Cloud 9, through EMI.
Also an entrepreneur, he launched his own clothing line in 2006. The Star In The Hood label initially began as a few t-shirts designed to promote his similarly-titled debut album. Selling them primarily to fund their tours, Tinchy kept wearing them in his videos and onstage and their popularity grew. Earlier this year, Rihanna was pictured wearing one, after Tinchy supported her tour. The Star In The Hood range expanded to include jackets, polo shirts and women’s wear which are featured in 60 stores in the UK. A drive around the Shepherd’s Bush roundabout will reveal a big billboard for Star In The Hood. With three studio albums and four mixtapes, his music has grown and Tinchy can hear it turning live now. With certified main stream success and sold out concerts, Stryder fully realizes that all the struggles that he encountered in the beginning of his career have paid off.
6) Tinie Tempah
Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu, better known by his stage name Tinie Tempah, is a British rapper from South London, England. His debut album, Disc-Overy, debuted at number one on 10, October 2010 and was preceded by the number-one singles Pass Out and Written in the Stars and the top-five single, Frisky. For decades, US music charts have seen what they call a "British Invasion" take place, and it is with this in mind that the undisputed British breakout star of 2010, Tinie Tempah, has set his sights on America. Already an incredible year – few debut artists boast three hit singles, a Glastonbury performance on the Pyramid stage, and millions of YouTube views. Officially certified as the best-selling British debut act of 2010, this 22 year-old artist has captivated music fans, celebrities and critics alike in just a matter of months.
His major label debut single Pass Out hit No.1, and has since had in excess of 11 million views. Its follow-up, Frisky, shot straight to No.2 and has been viewed over 8 million times. Combined, both singles have sold upwards of 750,000 copies. His third single, Written In The Stars, reached #1 and thus far, he has sold over one million singles in the UK alone. His debut album, Disc-Overy, debuted at #1 in the UK, and went gold in its first week, further proving his star power. Tinie plans to duplicate this success streak in the US by introducing himself with his number one UK banger Pass Out followed by the melodic, and also number one UK single, Written In The Stars. With Tinie already on the US radar thanks to remixes with Diddy and Snoop, Disc-Overy reasserts his global appeal by offering inventive production and a range of rhymes that are in turn frank and funny.