Skip to content
Oct 28 / Prinza

Ms Dynamite Up Close and Personal

Ms Dynamite has never been one to hold her tongue where matters of the world are concerned. After being away from the spotlight for a few years, working on her album and being mum to her son Shavaar, she is back with her new album ‘Judgement Days’ and as Sarah Williams, finds out she is stronger than ever. It’s been three years since Ms Dynamite, aka Niomi McLean-Daley, exploded onto the music scene with her undeniably catchy signature track ‘Ms Dy-na-mi-tee’ that saw her enjoy a head-spinning, rapid rise to fame as the first lady of the, then emerging UK garage scene. Not only was this a unique, highly talented, unashamed voice of a young black female who tackled issues such as violence and gun crime in an era where Gareth Gates and Westlife ruled, but she also had the sassy good looks and hard-punching, thought provoking lyrical content to boot. By the end of 2002 Ms Dynamite’s debut album ‘A Little Deeper’ had certified her as multi-platinum selling artist. She became the first black solo female artist to win the Mercury Music Prize and in the same year she won two Brit Awards, a South Bank Show Award and three out of the six Mobos that she was nominated for. Praised for ‘transforming the face of British music’ Niomi was at the top of her career. So it was a shock to many of her devoted fans and her record company (who already had another album in their sights) that after her breakthrough success she made the decision to take a step back and become a mother. Even though, to her, as she tells me, deciding to continue with her singing career or prepare for motherhood was never a difficult decision to make. “I think at the end of the day, as much Ms Dynamite existed and had a career and it was going great on the surface, how Niomi felt on the inside was something totally different. I was ready to start a family and its something myself and my sons dad (Dwayne Seaforth) had talked about for quite sometime. I just felt like I needed to do what was right for me. Sometimes in life, there is nothing more important than that and I think having a family is one of them.” As you can probably tell, Niomi even welcomed the break. It allowed her to sit back and reflect on the whirlwind of fame and notoriety that came after selling millions of records, winning a plethora of awards and blowing up so quickly. Now, she feels more ready, more confident and more focused than ever before to take her place back in the public eye with the release of her sophomore album ‘Judgement Days’ It’s hard to believe, but when her debut album ‘A Little Deeper’ was released, Niomi, didn’t know what all the fuss was about. “The last time round I definitely believed in everything that I was saying and doing but I didn’t believe in myself as an artist.” She says, “I always loved writing and I have always been confident as a writer so I can understand why people liked the songs. But I had no idea why they thought I was a good artist. I just thought everyone is crazy, they are all mad and I just didn’t believe in myself, where as this time I really do.” For most, the transition from a young woman to motherhood is never an easy task, especially if you are one of Britain’s top selling artists, but like everything else in her life, Niomi just takes it all in her stride and motherhood really does seem to become her.Her son, Shavaar, is now a happy “independent and strong” two year old and apart from being unable to spend as much time as she would like with him, she is finding the job of juggling her career and motherhood a lot easier than she ever thought it would be.When I ask her whether the issues of gun crime and violence, that she so often passionately campaigns about, affected her more after the birth of her son, she is definite in her answer. “Everything affects me more. Sometimes I just don’t want to put on the television. I don’t want to put on the radio. I don’t want to hear the news. Everything affects a million times more.”It’s hard because you have to have some sort of a balance. Before when Shavaar wasn’t here I’d get angry but it didn’t matter because I was angry and I could deal with it. But now, if I’m angry I can’t stay angry around my son, he’s going to feel it, he’s going to see it, he’s going to know it. I have to find a way to switch off to what’s going on outside my four walls and just live in our own little bubble for a little while, so he does get quality time, positive time, happy time and the best of me.” Growing up on a north London estate as a young black female, the oldest of eleven children, in a single parent household Niomi, has seen, first hand, the devastating effects that gun crime and violence can have on communities and especially children. This is possibly why, with the platform she has been given, 24-year-old Niomi is perhaps the most outspoken female artist of the “Text Generation.” In recent years she has been a campaigner for single parents, the protection of children and the anti-war movement just to name a few and it’s hard to imagine that she could have ever been any other way. Laughing, she tells me that if I was to take a look back at her school reports from as early as five-years-old, the teachers would always say “oh she’s lovely and smart and she does her work but she talks too much and she always says how she feels, even if it gets her into trouble.”Seeing that Niomi is the type of person who says what she means and always means what she says, one could imagine that if her music career finished tomorrow the next logical step would be for her to go further into the political arena.But surprisingly, the inner workings of politics, is not something that really interests her. “I don’t think that as a politician you are really aloud to do what I do, i.e. speak your mind and say exactly what you want to say, how you want to say it.” She says “I’m not really a person that copes well in environments where I am limited and I don’t have freedom of speech and I am not able to express myself in the way I want to. So for those reasons I wouldn’t really like to go into politics, however, if my journey took me there, if that’s where I went and that’s all I could do in order to make the changes that I wanted to make, then yeah it’s something that I would consider.”Right now, apart from her son, Niomi’s main priority is her music. Her new album Judgement Days is a medley of politically charged tracks that include Judgement Day, Put Your Gun Away, Self Destruct, Nobody Hears Our Cries. The soulful melodic, R&B love song Back Then, the sentimental Lauren Hill-esque Shavaar. The dub reggae infused When I Fall In Love, and a cover of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, that she sang on her return earlier this year on the Live 8 stage.But perhaps the most controversial song on the album is the double A-side of Judgement Day entitled Father, a song that rivals even Eminems no-holds bared family inspired rantings.Father is an impassioned, thumping piano driven track that was inspired by the pressures that Niomi felt growing up without her father, an experience that she believes too many young woman can relate to. Even though she says, she and her father no longer talk, she tells me, that out of respect for him and herself, she did write to him, to let him know about the song before somebody else did. Now as a mother herself, she feels she can finally understand some of the choices that he made and she can finally move on, “You know whatever we have been through in the past all that I have for him is love, everything that we did go through when I was angry, I am over that, they were my feelings as a child. I am now an adult, I am also a mother and that means that I understand a lot of the choices and decisions that he made that I didn’t understand at the time. I might not agree with them but I understand them. So the main thing I wanted him to know is that I’m not angry and this isn’t out of anger. I am putting the song out there because I really feel that there are thousands of kids that feel, and still feel how I felt. There are adults out there that still feel how I felt and I want them to have someone to relate to, especially young woman.”And at the end of it all, no matter what has happened in the past, there is no doubt that through all the pain and heartache, Niomi is a stronger person for it. If she can turn her negative experiences into positive, to help others, then as far as she is concerned that’s all that matters.Judgement Days is out now

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.