Selected by: James Keith

Name: RUE

Where She’s From: London via Zimbabwe

When She Started: 2008

Genre: Soul

File Next To: NAO, Jareth, Aadae

Sounds like: “New-age R&B poetry. It’s soulful and full of lyrical layers, which is something I developed as a spoken word artist. My vocal is obviously British, as I moved here aged 9, but I use instrumentals influenced by Southern African sounds to represent my roots. That’s important to me. There’s more to Zimbabwe than politics.”

First Music That Inspired Her: “‘Through The Wire’ by Kanye West, and the whole College Dropout album. It felt like a very well thought-out story from start to finish. It came out when I was 11 years old and I remember fully immersing myself in the narrative.”

Born in Zimbabwe but raised in London, poet, spoken word artist and singer RUE first grabbed our attention last year when she teamed up with Penhouse Music Group’s Kevin Gani to pull together a series of recent tracks under the name The Summer Collection. That was soon followed by The Winter Collection and a short film which she created with filmmaker Somayeh Jafari. Since then, we’ve been gifted with two new singles this year—“Running” and “Traffic”—both of which will appear on her upcoming Ivy’s Kid EP due later this year.

RUE’s thoughtfully executed soul music carries with it a maturity beyond her years. That could well come from the fact she wrote her first song, “The Magic Song”, at just seven years old. For the next few years, that would remain a hobby. “When we were living in Zimbabwe, I used to write songs and then my brother and I would make up a game to go along with it,” she tells us. “I was listening to Kanye West when I realised this could be a career. I’d go to a phone box and book myself in to all sorts of auditions, which I’d keep track of in my diary. My mum then had to traipse around London taking me to all these appointments!”

Or it could come from the eclectic mix of records by Tracy Chapman, Bob Marley, UB40 and Zimbabwean icon Oliver Mtkudzi that soundtracked her childhood; or it could be the fact that she’s grown up in two different countries on two different continents. Or it could be a combination of the lot... Either way, the poise and wisdom of RUE’s music isn’t something you can teach. Ivy’s Kid looks to be the most distilled example of that united creative front. Led by the stunning visuals for “Traffic”, the EP promises to weave together all the different strains of her creativity; rap, poetry, singing. “I’ve come to realise they’re one and the same,” she says, “just different methods to communicate my story.”

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on November 14, 2019