Get ready for a British invasion, Chicago. “Break My Heart” singer Estelle drops into Enclave on Thursday to kick off Dwyane Wade’s Wade’s World Weekend. In advance of her arrival, RedEye chatted up the U.K. and U.S. chart-topper on an array of topics, including her work with rappers from Kanye West to Rick Ross and where she keeps the Grammy she shares with West for her breakout hit, “American Boy.”
She even told us what she would or would not be willing to do to amp up anticipation for her next album, “All of Me,” expected early next year. Check out the highlights of our Q&A. Feel free to read her responses with a wicked cool British accent.
What was it about your first U.S. single, “American Boy,” that captivated the U.S. public?
I think when you put your energy into a song that’s what comes out the other end. It was just the vibe and the energy and all of that. You automatically feel that when you hear it.
What is Kanye like to work with?
He came in off a plane, did [the song] and went to the club later. It was real easy working with Kanye. We were all on the same wavelength. It was like, let’s knock this out.
Where do you keep the Grammy you won for the song...and tell the truth.
[laughing] I keep it on my bookshelf.
Do you keep it gleaming?
My friends come round and polish it. They say ‘girl, you need to take more care of it.’ I need 12 more before my career is through, though. That’s my personal goal..13 Grammy’s.
What’s it like working with Rick Ross on “Don’t Break My Heart?” Are you getting more calls to work with rappers after working with him and Kanye?
Yeah, I think I’m getting more calls. People still say, ‘Oh, do you sing with rappers?’ I’m like, do you realize I had a song with Gucci [Mane], Kanye, and I’m doing something with Jadakiss coming up. Some people don’t know I used to be a rapper. I’ve worked with Busta before and will again. I get a whole lot of love from hip-hop.
But did Rick Ross try to wrap you up in his swagged out lifestyle?
[laughs] Ha, he was a sweetheart. We weren’t in the studio together when we did the song, but we did the video. It was cool. Such a moment. There was a beautiful sky, blue yellow and bright.... and he was so nice and so cool. People like to say, ‘Oh Maybach Music is rough.’ But he was totally cool. Sitting in a limo, eating Taco Bell. And he was just so cool. Like family. Just nice.
How does your own rap past help you in dealing with the hip-hop community.
It totally helps. I get their vibe. In fact, I never thought I was going to be a singer. I thought I’d be a rap singer. I write, put down hooks like a rapper. They always say: ‘You get it.’ With my last album, “Shine,” I sang more because I was coming out of a personal period in my life where I was more into singing and I was listening to a different type of music.....But now, I’ve got my swagger back, my energy back for rap....I’ll always be both.