A chat with the all-class, lightning-fast (non)diva from Birmingham
Lady Leshurr fans were reminded of the MC’s raging talent when she came out flowing a million miles an hour on the new Torqux club single, “Blazin,” out March 10 on MTA Records.
But for many, it was their first introduction to the hip-hop up-and-comer from Birmingham, who has been compared relentlessly to Nicki Minaj for her speed, playfulness and high-pitched voice. But the Lady is carving out her own style, thanks to her recent, ambitious L Yeah mixtape and her breakout single “Lego.” Her tracks are rife with a dirty, down-home lyrical quality and production rooted in the UK DJ scene she comes from. Also, her accent is totally different, so shut up.
We spoke to Lady Leshurr (pronounced Lee-shurr) about rapping over the dreaded three- letter word EDM, about getting personal on the mic, and why she refuses to get involved in the Twitter bullshit.
Was “Blazin’” your first work with an EDM artist?
Yeah. There was a bit of pressure really. I was nervous because I wanted to deliver. So at the time, I was racking my brain to see what would go with the track and after awhile I said I should just do me, and do it naturally. I had a chest infection at the time when I was recording, so we had to do a bunch of takes because I kept coughing. But it was really good! It was nice working with Torqux, he’s a big name here so it’s great he took a chance on an up-and-coming artist like myself. I really like the track and that people are on board with it. I’ve never done a track like that before so I didn’t know how it would go.
It seems like people are just more open to genre-crossing in general, especially between hip-hop and electronic music.
Yes, and I’ve always said to myself as long as I’m myself, I’m still the same person in any genre. I shouldn’t have a problem.
How did you learn how to rap so fast?
I started rapping on drum & bass which is over 140 bpm faster than grime and garage. I used to be a DJ, so I started spitting on it, and that’s where I got the fast flow. And I started when I was like 12, so I’ve locked the flow.
Whats the biggest challenge of using fast flow?
There’s nothing hard about being fast. It’s so natural to me now to speak fast. But I like to think I’m actually saying things in my words too. I’m not a fan of people rapping fast and not saying anything. I want to make sure I’m keeping the balance of content and flow at the same time. I don’t want people to look at the lyrics and find out I’m not saying anything.
Why make L Yeah a mixtape? We’re ready for an album!
I decided to call it a mixtape because it’s got a few covers on it as well. I did covers because I wanted to keep original tracks and experiences and content for my album, so I didn’t want to give too much for the mixtape.
“I Will” is a very personal track. What inspired you to be so open about your past?
The day I wrote it I was in one of those moods where I just felt like I needed to open up more. A lot of people think being a rapper is glamorous and just fun, and not hard work, they don’t really understand the stress, hard work and dedication that goes into it. I just wanted to say that being a rapper is hard. Me doing that track is showing a lot of people how it is. I discuss a lot about my family as well, and how I didn’t have support when I wanted to do it.
Right, it seems like most artists were lavished with support by their parents — at least when you ask them.
Yeah, my mom never really thought I was gonna do it as a career, more of a hobby. She was okay about it, given that I quit all my jobs. I quit them all because it didn’t feel right to go to work because I knew I really wanted to do music. My father wasn’t supportive at all. He’s made me experience how it is to have not that proper family support.
So you had to gather that strength on your own?
Basically. I just did it on my own. My sisters and brothers were doing music but stopped. I was the only one to carry it on. My sisters and my brothers support me, my mother supports me now, my father is starting to support me a little. No one really had hope in me until things started happening. That’s how it goes I guess.
I actually spoke to you awhile ago for SXSW, and you said you were curious to see how Americans would react to your music and accent. Any updates on that?
Oh my gosh the SXSW performance was crazy! I just was so surprised at how they reacted to me. They were so energetic. They had so many great vibes. Since then I’ve gotten a lot of American followers as well, I don’t know if it’s because my song gets played on BET. “Step in the Dance” it’s called. It gets played on BET a lot!
The Nicki Minaj comparison, you mentioned it last year and you mention it in “I Will.” Is it seriously still going on? Is it as frustrating?
Yeah, I don’t think it’s ever gonna stop. Every new rapper that’s up-and-coming, they say she sounds like her and puts her in the same category as Nicki. I didn’t want to go too deep into it, I’d been seen as trying to dis her. But I’m just saying I’m not a carbon copy of anything, sometimes the comparison is only because I’m a female rapper. I think it’s ignorant.
Any comparisons to Azealia Banks yet?
No actually, I haven’t. I have people say that I look like her. But it’s always Nicki Minaj. And Busta Rhymes. No one else. Azealia follows me on Twitter and has been really cool.
Don’t mess with her.
Haha, I won’t!
I haven’t seen you engage in much Twitter beef.
Right, I have banter now and again but I’m not into all that beef and stuff. Everyone can see. Your supporters can see. It’s not a good look.
I hear you’re recording new stuff.
Yeah, I’m doing an EP, because it’s all original songs now. I feel like I have to put the work in and do a crazy CD of mad different genres. It might be called The Unexpected or Mona Leshurr. I got six tracks already. I’m hitting the studios every single day and co-producing as well. I used to produce and want to get back to it. I’m gonna have input in all the tracks. It will be like a mini album with a Missy Elliott kinda sound about it. There’s a gap for that kind of sound right now.