Speech Therapy (album)

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Speech Therapy
Studio album by
Released1 June 2009[1]
RecordedMelbourne, Australia
London, UK
GenreAlternative hip hop, jazz rap
LabelBig Dada
ProducerWayne "Lotek" Bennett, Plutonic Lab, Mike Lindsay, Ciaran "DreaKey" Fahy, Speech Debelle (co).
Speech Debelle chronology
Speech Therapy
Freedom of Speech
Singles from Speech Therapy
  1. "Searching"
    Released: 10 November 2008
  2. "The Key"
    Released: 15 March 2009
  3. "Go Then, Bye"
    Released: 25 May 2009
  4. "Better Days"
    Released: 27 July 2009
  5. "Spinnin'"
    Released: 14 September 2009

Speech Therapy is the debut album from British rapper Speech Debelle. It was awarded the British Mercury Prize in 2009.


The album was released in the United Kingdom on 31 May 2009. The album was led by a white label limited release of "Searching". Thereafter the album had three singles released, "The Key", "Better Days" featuring Micachu, "Go Then, Bye" and finally "Spinning".

Recorded mostly in Australia, the album was created by Debelle, Wayne Lotek and Plutonic Lab (who produced "The Key" and "Better Days") and Big Dada founder Will Ashon, the album documented her formative years in London. She has cited her biggest influences on the album as Tracy Chapman and Meshell Ndegeocello. Unlike many other hip hop albums, the tracks eschew the use of samples and rely instead on live instrumentals.[2]


"The Key" won Best Budget Video for Pop, Dance, Urban at the UK Music Video Awards in 2009.[3]

Debelle's single from the Speech Therapy, "Spinnin" has been re-worked by Tinchy Stryder and Dionne Bromfield and will be used as one of the official anthems of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.[4] In March 2011 she performed three songs from the album for Canal Street TV in France.[5]

Mercury Prize[edit]

On 21 July 2009 Speech Therapy was announced as one of the twelve shortlisted albums for the year's Mercury Music Award. She became the first woman to win the award in seven years.[6] Speech Therapy was considered an upset to more well-known competitors including The Horrors, Florence and the Machine, Kasabian and Friendly Fires.[6]

Speech Therapy won Speech Debelle the 2009 Mercury Prize, becoming the first hip hop artist since Dizzee Rascal in 2003 to win the award. After the win, sales of Speech Therapy were comparatively low to other Mercury winners, selling only around 3,000 copies at the time of winning the prize. Since her win, the album's sales totalled at 15,000 as of 2012.

Although this is still a low sales increase for a prize winner,[7] the market for British hip-hop (not including Grime) is comparably small to other genres; this amount is more than other independent British hip hop artists, such as Akala. The album peaked on the UK Albums Chart at 65.[8][9]


Professional ratings
Review scores
The Guardian[11]
The Independent[12]
The Observer(favourable)[14]
Pitchfork Media(7.5/10)[15]
The Sunday Times[17]
The Times[18]

In a review of the album, The Guardian said "Debelle's songs are vulnerable, open, unafraid. The overall sound...is full of light and air, acoustic guitars and pianos. There is a gracious, almost stately air to the record, yet the songs still sound entirely joyous."[2] Paul Macinnes of The Guardian wrote "There's something intriguing about Speech Debelle, with a voice both husky and sweet, and a back story that's emotive if unclear."[19] Macinnes also nominated Speech Therapy as his favourite album of 2009.[19] OHM Monthly cited Speech's work as "biggest thing in UK hip-hop for many a long year".[20] The Times praised the production of the album and named it the 76th best album of the 2000s.

In the US, Pitchfork gave a favorable review and praising her relaxed, conversational delivery.[21] According to Pitchfork, "Some hip-hop fans will likely write her off because the usual American rap signifiers-- samples, seething synths, bombastic beats, and buckets of braggadocio-- play scant part in her artistic agenda."[21]

Track listing[edit]

1."Searching"C. Elliot, W. Bennett, T. Bennett3:33
2."The Key"C. Elliot, L. Ryan3:00
3."Better Days" (featuring Micachu)C. Elliot, L. Ryan, M. Levi4:00
4."Spinnin"C. Elliot, M. Lindsay3:37
5."Go Then, Bye"C. Elliot, C. Fahy4:29
6."Daddy's Little Girl"C. Elliot, W. Bennett, P. Marks, D. McLean3:52
7."Bad Boy"C. Elliot, W. Bennett, C. Dalton4:20
8."Wheels in Motion" (featuring Roots Manuva)C. Elliot, W. Bennett, R. Smith, D. McLean3:28
9."Live & Learn"C. Elliot, M. Lindsay3:29
10."Working Weak"C. Elliot, W. Bennett, C. Dalton3:20
11."Buddy Love"C. Elliot, W. Bennett, P. Marks4:12
12."Finish This Album"C. Elliot, W. Bennett, S. Stocking5:11
13."Speech Therapy"C. Elliot, W. Bennett, A. Boot4:45


  1. ^ "Big Dada Releases". Big Dada. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
  2. ^ a b Fitzpatrick, Rob (12 February 2009). "Oboe'n'bass: Dispatches from hostel territory. Rob Fitzpatrick meets Speech Debelle". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  3. ^ "UK Music Video Awards". Music Week. 14 October 2009. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  4. ^ "First London 2012 anthem unveiled". The Telegraph. 26 July 2011. Archived from the original on 27 July 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  5. ^ "CS Session Live Speech Debelle - I'm with it". 26 March 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  6. ^ a b Swash, Rosie (9 September 2009). "Speech Debelle wins Mercury music prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  7. ^ "Mercury Prize Winners - The Guardian Google spreadsheet". Retrieved 6 March 2012.
  8. ^ Michaels, Sean (25 November 2009). "Speech Debelle ditches record label over poor sales". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  9. ^ Brown, Jonathan (9 September 2009). "Speech Debelle rises from streets of London to win Mercury Prize". The Independent. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  10. ^ allmusic ((( Speech Therapy > Overview ))). Allmusic. Accessed 8 September 2009.
  11. ^ Paul MacInnes (29 May 2009). "Pop review: Speech Debelle: Speech Therapy". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
  12. ^ Andy Gill (2 May 2009). "Album: Speech Debelle, Speech Therapy (Big Dada)". The Independent. Archived from the original on 23 November 2010. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
  13. ^ Leonie Cooper (27 May 2009). "Album review: Speech Debelle - 'Speech Therapy'". NME. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
  14. ^ Killian Fox (31 May 2009). "Pop review: Speech Debelle, Speech Therapy". The Observer. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
  15. ^ Amy Granzin (6 August 2009). "Album Reviews: Speech Debelle: Speech Therapy". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
  16. ^ Q, July 2009, p.121
  17. ^ Dan Cairns (31 May 2009). "Speech Debelle: Speech Therapy review". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
  18. ^ Pete Paphides (22 May 2009). "Speech Debelle: Speech Therapy review". The Times. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
  19. ^ a b Hann, Michael (31 December 2009). "2009 Guardian First Album award". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  20. ^ Murphy, John (1 June 2009). "Speech Debelle – Speech Therapy : album reviews". OHM Monthly. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
  21. ^ a b Granzin, Amy (6 August 2009). "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Speech Debelle: Speech Therapy". Pitchfork. Retrieved 1 June 2012.