Born in the U.K., IAMDDB (née Diana De Brito) was prepping for her career as a musician long before she realized.

While there were no plaintive, childhood dreams of sold-out arena shows or fame, music was always a part of IAMDDB's life, as she watched her father, a sound engineer and bassist surround himself with it. IAMDDB's embrace of her roots — in Manchester, in Angola, in Portugal (forever repping the homeland) — allowed her to grow up listening to different genres, from afro-jazz, afro-soul, and samba.

Influenced by the likes of Nat King Cole, Jimmy Dludlu, Lianne La Havas and Bob Marley, IAMDDB was consistently exposed to different rhythms and tempos, adding a new texture and vitality to her narrative. Over the past 18 months, she's been crafting her self-named sound of urban jazz whilst exploring her neo-soulesque niche. Though to call her neo-soul is to ignore myriad counter strains in her work: synthpop, trap, chillwave. 

Before pursuing music, IAMDDB was taking her GCSEs in performing arts and law, but couldn't live with herself had she decided to let down her passion. In 2015, at age 19, IAMDDB went to Angola with her father for six months to work on straight jazz and then returned to the U.K. with powerful energy, but also with a mindset of wanting to accomplish even more: "Africa was nice, but I thought, nah, I need to smash it in the U.K., I need to do this thing the right way" she told Julie Adenuga on Beats 1. And while normally you'd expect somebody at this stage in their career to be rushing from one air-conditioned record label lobby to the next hunting for a major deal, IAMDDB has stuck to doing things her own way.

She's been accruing fans' appetites every few months with projects that carry her voice, rich and husky like velvet trimmed with barbed wire. Her single 'Leaned Out' received high demand from DJs and national radio including Capital FM, BBC 1 Radio and BBC 1XTRA. It's no secret that IAMDDB is a massive fan of jazz and the people who make up the genre's most formative contributions, which became visible on her 2016 project WAEVEYBBY, Vol. 1.

Just earlier this year the songstress with her sultry vocals dropped her VIBE, Vol. 2 project, quickly followed by an exclusive performance of her song 'Pause' for Colors Of Berlin. I was stunned by this track from a woman who was completely unfamiliar to me. 'Pause' was my first true moment of awe at IAMDDB, the song that sold me on this Manchester blossoming songbird. VIBE, VOL 2's essence — a perfect blend of elusiveness, vulnerability, and tenderness — has kept me transfixed by IAMDDB from that moment on. Since her introduction, IAMDDB's narrative has been obsessed with assertion. Her candour made it so that she needed no external validation. If she laid it all out for everyone to see, there were no secrets. She does whatever the fuck she wants, however the fuck she wants. HOODRICH Vol. 3 shows us exactly that.

With a running time of under 20 minutes, the project's start is acutely felt, pairing the unorthodox synths (sounding like something out of an '80s game) with a bass that literally drags us around the track. This highlight song, 'Conjouring', featuring some of the album's best production, lets us know that the monster has awakened. "You're nothing special, get your money right," she raps on the intro, levelling barbs at an invisible adversary. Her honesty is brutal, the beautiful pain that comes with reflecting in the storm of a crisis. She has an astonishing aptness for singing all the words that most lips would seal and most souls would bury. I wasn't prepared for her sultry voice to sing over the haze-inducing synths on 'Running', a poised bar-for-bar lyrical exercise where IAMDDB spits effortlessly on the Deiago production. The very industrial sounds mixed with electronic trap drums, the familiar snare and spraying hi-hats allow for the beat to build as she builds on it, seeing no competition. She isn't a damsel in distress; she's capable of being as brutal as can be.

HOODRICH Vol. 3 picks up steam by track three 'Shade', an upbeat jaunt where the shit-talking begins. IAMDD sings nonchalantly, as though confidence has always been here M.O. Her laid-back, although still powerfully demanding, vocals are underpinned by a calm yet raw trap-beat. Accompanied by a powerful music video, the mood of 'Shade' represents IAMDDB doing her thing, not giving a damn about what her haters think or say about her. 'Shade' is an early statement of intent from the 21-year-old artist that buzzcuts a jazz-tinged vocal over a raw trap groove. It's blunt in the right places: sanguine swagger drenched in personality and bold enough to stand apart from her contemporaries. 

'Ooo' is another knocking trap banger. It has the bounce and tempo that would get anybody to get out of their seats. The subtle trap elements in the production mixed with the vocals are a winning combination. You will put respek on her name. She recalls the huffy, hedonistic bravura of old-school rappers —"Don't mess around imma replace you." Next comes 'G.A.F.' with a production that sounds like a sea of mermaids rising to the surface in perfect sequence. IAMDDB enters with a swift flow and her iconic ad-libs such as "IAMDDB shoulda kept it G." 

After the first 5 tracks that prove her ability to make trap bangers, 'Trophy' brings out the subtle trap elements in the production but mixes it with sultry vocals — a winning combination. Here she maintains the familiar eerie chords but introduces a more melodic tone to the project. Her need for clarity is evident but so is her grasp on it. And while IAMDDB soars sonically, her willingness to admit and sew through beautifully vulnerable lyrics delicately tunes into the hearts of her listeners.

When HOODRICH Vol 3's closing track, 'More', hits is when you understand that IAMDDB's voice, depth, passion, heart, and range, are the true driving forces making this project so special. 'More' is about the love that took her to the brink ("I don't wanna do this no more") and the love that steadies her now, upright ("I really really need you by my side"). It can be hard to tell someone how much they've hurt you and, in the same breath, express how much you need them, "Give me a reason to hold on. Give me a reason to let go." A bit rugged and raw, she puts sincere feeling behind these words. Her thick vocals are always brimming with emotion and serve as the glue that holds the album together. 

There's a lot hidden under the layers of HOODRICH, Vol. 3, each song sounding like a world that's within itself, a piece of IAMDDB. It's a bar-raising listening experience for anyone who is aware of the material she has released in the past. You can tell there's confidence, a daring spirit to push personal limitation. It can be especially tough to create as a Black artist without being put into a box or categorized. HOODRICH, Vol. 3 directly defies that urge, instead yielding a range of tracks that reads more as a vision board than a hunting for any one sound or aesthetic quality.

She is an exciting singer, bending and perverting notes, permitting her voice to get as tense as an overfilled balloon. Her off-kilter melismas suggest an ear for jazz and soul as much as for trap. IAMDDB doesn't sound concerned with being a mainstream star, with belting out high notes and making every track all about her. Instead, she works with the production, not just over it. Throughout the seven tracks, she leaves room for drum breakdowns, changes and accents in the instrumentals. Rest assured, she'll leave her mark but she's bound and determined to do it her way. It's an exciting time to witness what happens when the butterfly emerges from the cocoon.

You can visit IAMDDB over at her SoundCloud.