Civilian

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ust like her par­ents, Estelle, too, loves changes in life – she used to live in Brook­lyn but now she re­sides in L.A. – as she de­clares, “I am a self…uh, what’s the word? I am a self-in­flicted, mil­i­tary brat.” (She laughs and quickly adds: “No, I’m jok­ing.”) I tell her I haven’t moved for the past 8 years be­cause I don’t like changes. “Oh, God. Oh, no?” she pauses, later adding, “I’m all about the changes. I’m mov­ing my en­ergy, and I’m mov­ing my spirit. And it’s been times where I’m just like, ‘I’m so tired of mov­ing, but I have to get out of here.’ When I first came here, I had a stu­dio apart­ment. The older I got, more mu­sic I got, and big­ger I got, I needed a big­ger space. I’m grate­ful that I moved to L.A. be­cause that’s kind of where ev­ery­thing else in my ca­reer has ex­panded and grown,” she grins.

That be­ing said, her fifth stu­dio al­bum Lovers Rock is a full-length reg­gae al­bum (“It’s just close to my roots to talk about and be about this time around”) that she worked on for 3 years – hav­ing tunes like “Love Likes Ours (feat. Tar­rus Ri­ley),” “Bet­ter,” “Sweetly,” and “So Easy (feat. Luke James).” In case you hes­i­tantly won­der if lit­er­ally ev­ery­thing is just all about reg­gae with­out pop mu­sic or R&B songs on this al­bum, her an­swer is very sim­ple: “Yeah, pretty much! Why don’t you lis­ten to reg­gae and dance all the time?”

In­ter­est­ingly enough, the year of 2018 also marks the 10th an­niver­sary of her block­buster al­bum, Shine (“Uh-huh,” she nods). “I feel so good that I can be here with this whole new al­bum. 10 years later, peo­ple still care. That’s the real life be­cause peo­ple have the at­ten­tion span of a freak­ing fruit fly, or of the lifes­pan of a fruit fly,” she ex­claims, snap­ping her fin­gers im­pa­tiently. “You know, they want you to cut things out im­me­di­ately. I’m just grate­ful to still be here.”

Back then, “Amer­i­can Boy” (fea­tur­ing Kanye West) won a 2009 Grammy for Best Rap/Sung Col­lab­o­ra­tion, and achieved an RIAA dou­ble-plat­inum cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. She then re­leased the fol­low-up All of Me in 2012, and the sin­gle “Thank You” re­ceived a Grammy nom­i­na­tion for Best R&B Per­for­mance (“I was go­ing through a breakup, and I was hurt. I was more emo­tional and hurt than I was an­gry. You know, I was very sad,” she says of the song, though). 2015’s True Ro­mance yielded the smash “Con­queror.” Guest-star­ring as Delphine in a pop­u­lar episode of

Em­pire, she joined Jussie Smol­lett for a duet of the tune, as well.

Through­out the ca­reer, she’s been singing about love – and not-so-great re­la­tion­ships. “Well, this is why I write songs. But also, there’s al­ways a way around it – to get to the other side of it. You have to go through it, you have to go around it, and you have to get rid of it, but the way ex­ists, and you will be OK,” the 38-year-old singer/ song­writer elab­o­rates. “I write songs, or I sing songs that help you find a way out. They are al­ways like, ‘This was sh*t, still sh*t, but, it will be alright’” – she warmly laughs – “you’ll be fine, we’ll fig­ure, this is how we do this. I’ve al­ways fig­ured the way out.” In the midst of go­ing through a tough sit­u­a­tion, just like ev­ery­one else, she would ques­tion and vic­tim­ize her­self, but then she usu­ally reeval­u­ates and shifts her mind­set. “‘Alright, this is for me. What am I sup­posed to learn here? This is not hap­pen­ing to me more than this is hap­pen­ing for me.’ It hurts, it’s crazy to stay in the mo­ment,” con­tends Estelle. “But then, you’d find out you’re here for a rea­son. So, ‘I hate you right now, but I’ll be alright! I’m gonna fig­ure out what this means for me.’ That’s kind of the space that I stay in.”

Ad­di­tion­ally, Estelle’s ded­i­ca­tion to growth and evo­lu­tion has been fully ap­plied to her All of Me Foun­da­tion, which “is based on help­ing young peo­ple in mi­nori­ties to see other ex­pe­ri­ences and op­por­tu­ni­ties. One of the things we did was, to take a group of kids to Sene­gal, and that was pretty amaz­ing.” In her daily life, fur­ther­more, she is “try­ing to do my good deeds when­ever I have the op­tion, and I am try­ing to be em­pa­thetic enough be­cause that’s what’s miss­ing when ev­ery­one has dis­tinc­tive opin­ions.”

“I’m fight­ing for the right to be as nat­u­ral as you wanna be, who­ever you are, wher­ever you are, to con­sis­tently grow,” she says. The clock hits 6:15 p.m. in New York City (she stays here for a week, pre­par­ing for the Lovers Rock promo cy­cle) – but her day isn’t over yet.

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