Your country needs you: Rita Ora, from Pristina to Portobello Road

The London girl from Kosovo is Jay Z’s future star. Believe it or not, she’s doing it for her country

In today’s world of fame manufacturing, it is not unusual for a record label to build a fan base for its upcoming artists without them having a single song on the repertoire. Jay Z’s recent sign up, the Kosovo-born Rita Ora, is trending all over the internet without an official release.

Rita was born in Pristina, Kosovo in 1990, but moved with her parents to UK the same year at the outbreak of the Yugoslav wars. She grew up in Portobello Rd, one of West London’s cultural landmarks, and already in her teens became involved with some of the city’s r&b and hip hop scene. Her official music entry came in 2008 when she was featured as a guest vocalist on Craig David’s Ackward, as well as a model in his video for Where’s Your Love.

In 2009, Rita auditioned for the BBC One series Eurovision: Your Country Needs You to become UK’s next Eurovision contestant. She got to the finals, but eventually withdrew from the competition, “because she did not feel ready”.

In the meantime, she got signed for Jay Z’s Roc Nation and started working on her debut album. It’s been two years since, and her growing fan base has been eagerly awaiting her first record, but so far it seems Rita has better time posing in front of the cameras than singing.

Apart from frequently hanging out in London clubs, she appeared in Drake’s video for Over (2010), and started her online video diary as a prelude for the upcoming album. Here she talks about growing up in West London but states her Kosovo background, pointing out she’s “doing it for my family and for my country.”

Much of the internet buzz has been focused on Rita’s personality (well, what else?). Some of the tweets are focused on her outgoing lifestyle (“But anyway, did I mention how bad Rita Ora is lately?”), some are puzzled (“I see lots of pictures of Rita ora but no music is she meant to be a artist or a model jay-z Dnt have a modelling agency tho”) and some dwell around her race and ethnicity (“i just…cannot comprehend the fact that rita ora is albanian” / “Rita Ora is beautiful… What is she tho? too dark 2 b white. To light 2 b black”).

Roc Nation promo video introduces her as a singer, but there’s no accompanying Rita Ora track, instead, she sings a few Beyoncesque acapellas to persuade us she can actually sing. Yes, she sure can. And she does have the looks of a slimmer, younger and more relaxed Beyonce, with a touch of Gwen Stefani. Just in case you didn’t know that, the video displays a signature at the end, saying “I love my music. Rita Ora.”

That’s all lovely, but where’s the bloody music. Jay Z is keeping us in the dark. Kosovo, what do you say? Rita, your country needs you!