“It’s so (expletive) hard for British artists to be taken seriously as R&B artists,” she said.
“It’s frustrating,” continued Estelle, who now lives in the United States. “I get a lot of (people saying), ‘Yo Estelle, I can’t sing R&B and be out here and make money. This is crazy.’ And I’m looking at them like, ‘I know. That’s why I’m not there doing it.’“
Estelle’s sound is a mix of rap, R&B, reggae and pop. She says British R&B singers have trouble performing R&B “because No. 1, you’re not American.”
But R&B music in Europe isn’t quite the same as in America. Europe’s R&B charts will feature pop acts like Jason Derulo and Flo Rida, whose songs don’t appear on the U.S. R&B chart.
“The kids in the (U.K.) hood still know what R&B music is. They still know what real (R&B) is,” she said.
Estelle released her debut, The 18th Day, in Europe in 2004, but she made her real splash on the music scene in 2008 with the monster hit “American Boy,” which won her a Grammy Award. The song featured Kanye West and is from her U.S. debut, Shine, released on John Legend’s label imprint, Home School Records.
This week, the 32-year-old is releasing her new album, All of Me. It features collaborations with Chris Brown, Trey Songz, Rick Ross, Nas, Ne-Yo and Janelle Monae.
Estelle says though some people wanted her to rush out new material following the success of “American Boy,” she decided to take time to write and record quality songs.
“I always say there’s a difference between cooked food and McDonald’s,” she said. “Your mom’s homemade dinner – you enjoy this more than you enjoy the fast food that comes along and goes, and I strive to make homemade dinner every time I put out an album.”