Dwele Biography

Andwele Gardner, Detroit, Michigan, USA. That this innovative nu soul artist’s full first name means ‘God has brought me’ in Swahili is frequently cited as fitting for a man considered as an outstanding talent. This may be overstating the case but, nevertheless, the former rapper’s juxtaposition of R&B, spoken word, jazz and the swagger of underground hip-hop essays an easy charm and confidence.

Dwele was brought up in Detroit in a highly musical family that was tragically reduced to his mother and younger brother after the fatal shooting of his father outside his home, when Dwele was 10. The musician has subsequently acknowledged the loss of his father as impacting on his ‘creative side’. Self-described as an ‘old soul’, Dwele has recalled that at the schools of his childhood he seemed to have different tastes in music to everybody around him, citing Stevie Wonder, Donny Hathaway, Roy Ayers, Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard as particular favourites. Dwele studied piano from the age of six, was a trumpeter in the schools marching and jazz bands and was to later learn bass and guitar. Inspired by hip-hop innovators A Tribe Called Quest, he became an MC, the catalyst for hooking up with Jay Dee, T3 and Muhammed Baatin aka underground hip-hop savants Slum Village. He appeared on their 2002 MTV hit ‘Tainted’ and the favour was returned via a guest appearance on Dwele’s major label debut, Subject. Having sold his 1998 demo The Rize out of the boot of his car - there were only 100 copies and they sold out in a week - Dwele subsequently signed a recording contract with Virgin Records and released Subject in 2003. Taking his cues from soul masters past and present, Dwele sprinkled his nu soul with the self-assurance of hip-hop, to create an album that seemed reverent to its predecessors but (equally) remained free from the deadening hand of nostalgia. His second major label release, Some Kinda... , followed at the end of 2005.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.