Interview

LADY LESHURR

They say a change is as good as a rest, but sometimes a rest is just what’s needed. No need for drastic reinvention, just some reassessment, a slight tweak and life can get back on track with spectacular results. It’s something Lady Leshurr knows all about.

From 2009 to 2014, the release of nine mixtapes and four EPs showcased not only a startling work ethic but a lyrical and stylistic dexterity that outstripped most of her contemporaries and drawing praise from high-profile fans and critics alike. From her high energy music to her twists on fashion and her personal style – Lady Leshurr is becoming the name on everyone’s lips.

However, the time when things really took off was with the Queen’s Speech project – a series of videos that are funny, playful, cheeky and, most of all, downright watchable. Episode four has been viewed over 30 million times. We catch up with one of the hottest properties on the scene to speak about the importance of that downtime and breaking through as a female artist in a male-dominated industry.

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It might have been considered a risk to take that time out, as it might be in any profession. What was going on at the time to prompt you to do it?

I’ve always been that person who never stopped. I was going through things personally that I needed to sort out. It was affecting my music and how I was writing – nothing was representing me anymore, it was all sad songs just because I was going through a lot of stress.

It’s something I really had force myself to do, even though it really hurt me, but I knew it would pay off in the long run. I just knew I had to go away, focus on something and revamp my sound and come back stronger than ever. It was very difficult to do but I knew I had to do it.

You’ve said before you feel a sense of inequality when described as a “female artist”. Do you continue to find the industry discriminatory towards you compared to your male counterparts?

Well, this question will always come up – girls will always be seen as ‘female rappers’ or be put in their own category, I can’t see it changing anytime soon.

For me personally, I just let the music do the talking. It frustrates me that it is a male dominated industry and that we’re seen as second best or that we’re doing a male job – I know it’s not that – and some girls are definitely better than the guys. But I can’t change the way people think.

But don’t you at least think one day this is a conversation that won’t be being had?

I don’t know… It’s a tricky one. There are certain things that just won’t go away, what with so many people in the world, everyone has their own opinion. With female rappers, given that there aren’t very many of them, we’re all going to be compared to one another. People, and this especially stems from the media, will always try to pit us against each other.

The supporters as well – it’s like you can’t support two female rappers at any one time. One fanbase won’t like another fanbase so it seems like you can’t support both of them. I think it has a lot to do with the way [the media] portray female rappers.

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And you feel as this is more prevalent between female rappers?

One million per cent. It’s happened in the past with Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea, Missy and Lil’ Kim – it’s always going to be, ‘who’s the best female rapper?’. Like there can only be one when there’s enough space for so many. If we worked together and supported each other more I don’t think things would be as bad.
If we worked together and supported each other more I don’t think things would be as bad.

Would you ever take on or promote young female rappers or do you think it best for everyone to stay in their lane and do what they want to do?

If I see someone else who’s talented, I’m going to big them up. I’m going to be setting up my own label - and I know this sounds sexist - but it’s just going to a female rapper/poet/singer label focussed on female empowerment because you just don’t see that enough. I want to be able to do something that might change something in the industry.

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