Let’s call it the Rita Ora bubble. The Kosovo born, London raised star has hard at work on her debut album since 2009 and all the while she’s been busy building herself hype. Over the past few years, she’s given a lot of interviews, played festivals, made nice with Rob Kardashian, and begun hinting at a fashion line in the works. She’s made sure to keep visible and to always be looking good with crimson lips, fly style, and a big smile. As a result, she’s been fun to root for, and not just because she’s got a big dog like Jay-Z behind her. But she only has a handful of songs to her name, and with her debut release Ora finally close on the horizon, we have to wonder what exactly we are going to get. Can she live up to the hype? Or will the bubble pop? Let’s break it down.
WHERE DID SHE COME FROM? THE TIMELINE:
2007: After flirting briefly with a career in acting, Ora hooked up with British crooner Craig David for a feature on his “Awkward.” She joined him again the next year on the hook of his frenetic club banger, “Where’s Your Love.”
2009: She auditioned for Eurovision: Your Country Needs You on BBC One to be the British contestant for the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest. “It all went great,” she says, but she ended up quitting the contest anyways after just a few episodes because she “just knew it wasn’t the right thing” and that “if it is meant to be someone will see me.” Her instinct was good, because within weeks she was singed to Jay-Z‘s Roc Nation. Under Jay’s wing, she showed up for non-singing cameos in the video for “Young Forever” and Drake’s “Over.” She looked great, but that was the last we’d hear from her for a minute.
2011: Rita ducked away for two years to find herself as an artist and to start whittling away at an album. “The best advice that Jay-Z has ever given me is to be patient,” she says. “He told me to go find myself and to wait for my window, that it was going to happen. I’m so glad I took his advice.” Throughout the year, she shared videos of herself at work on the album so that we could know it was happening. And in December, she released “Hot Right Now” with DJ Fresh.
2012: In February, “Hot Right Now” hit the top of the UK Singles Chart. Stateside that same month, she dropped by New York’s Z100 radio station with Jay-Z to debut her first official single, “Party and Bulls****.” Nobody really knew who she was at the time, but if she had Jay’s backing she seemed worth watching and so the trip got a ton of coverage. Here at Tuner, we wondered if that girl with the great style and bright red lipstick was supposed to be the new Rihanna. We’ve since noticed that her newest song, “Roc The Life,” also sounds a lot like Rihanna. Ora is down with the comparison, though, as she explained when she covered Complex last month. One thing Jay gave Rihanna early in her career that Rita hasn’t gotten yet is that all important verse — Jay leads on “Umbrella,” Rihanna’s breakout hit. Little Miss Stylish, Rita where you at?
ORA: THE ALBUM WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR?
This is what we’ve been waiting on. Ora has been at work for the past two and a half years with a none-to-shabby team that includes the likes of will.i.am, Sia, Ester Dean, Drake, Diplo and The-Dream. In a recent interview with MTV News, she said that the album is “finally done, and it’s an honest real album, and there’s so many different types of genres on there.” While we haven’t heard more than a few songs from Ora herself, she has a deep catalog of capable covers that includes everyone from One Direction to Destiny’s Child to Gotye, and so we tend to believe her when she says “it’s a very eclectic album.” And maybe most important of all, she’s got a seal of approval from the big boss: according to Ora, Jay-Z said “he loved it.” Ora hits shelves in the UK on August 27th, in all likelihood the internet sometime soon thereafter, and will be released stateside this fall.
What We’ve Heard So Far:
- “Hot Right Now,” 2012, topped charts in the UK
- “How We Do (Party),” 2012, currently at 62 on the Billboard 100
- “RIP” featuring Tinie Tempah, 2012, was originally written by Drake for Rihanna, debuted at number one on the UK Singles chart
- “Roc The Life,” 2012
Her 7 Best Covers:
7. Jill Scott’s “He Loves Me”
6. One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful”
5. Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name”
4. Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church In The Wild”
3. Outkast’s “Hey Ya”
2. Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Love”
1. Rihanna’s “We Found Love”, because, like Rihanna herself would say: Rita’s got zero f***s to give about who you think she sounds like!
Magazine’s She’s Covered:
[Photo by Jen Marigliano]