Lady Leshurr Discusses America’s Love and Hate for Her Music, Lil Wayne’s Inspiration & ‘Queen’s Speech’ Success [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Meet Lady Leshurr, the U.K.'s next rising star when it comes to hip-hop. She's already garnered praise from the likes of Erykah Badu and we know how hard she is to please. The rapper is "ill," according to the "Next Lifetime" singer and for good reason. The visual for Lady Leshurr's new song "Queen's Speech Ep. 4," featuring her clever punchlines and easily digestible rhymes, has already racked up over 2.5 million views on YouTube within the first month of its release. Leshurr is certainly feeling the love (and the hate, but we'll get to that later).
Like most artists, the 26-year-old rhymer was constantly surrounded by music at a young age growing up in Birmingham, England. However, Lady Leshurr's soundtrack as a teeny bopper was reggae. Her parents, born in the Caribbean Isle of St. Kitts, played staples in the genre like Bob Marley and Sister Nancy. That early introduction to a variety of sounds no doubt influenced Leshurr, who started writing rhymes at the age of 12.
Before fans called her by her current rap moniker, she was Lady Lesha -- a play off of her real name, Melesha O'Garro. But after a hook from one of her early songs echoed "Leshurr (shurr)" and the exaggeration of the pronunciation became popular, she decided to stick with it. Thus, Lady Leshurr was born, an artist who also dabbles in acting and production. She co-produced the beats for her "Queen's Speech" series with producers Z Dot and Krunchie and plays the lead in Lapse of Honour, a film coming out this month. The movie follows an aspiring rapper (Leshurr) who becomes pregnant and has to face her shortcomings.
All the way from Birmingham, the social media savvy artist (her Snapchat features many hilarious moments) hopped on the phone to speak with The Boombox about her career goals, Lil Wayne and N.W.A.'s inspiration and her popular "Queen's Speech" series. Plus, she explains how a hater's "bad breath" motivates her to succeed. Have some toothpaste on deck.
The Boombox: Who got you into hip-hop?
Lady Leshurr: N.W.A. and Eminem. Mainly it was Eminem is what got me into hip-hop properly.
What about those artists drew you to the genre?
With N.W.A., I guess it was lots of attitude and their powerful lyrics. They were just always just fighting for something and just the swag, the all black. I loved Eazy-E the most. With Eminem, it's just he's talented and he's human and he's just having fun with music. So I love that about Eminem.
What inspired you to start the "Queen's Speech" series?
Last year, I kind of took some time out of music just because I wanted to rebrand myself and just to develop my skills. I watch a lot of battle rap and it really inspired me to do this series because it's just basically battle rap on a song. I'm not really basing them on anybody. It's just that if I were to battle rap, this is what I would do kind of thing. So I really wanted to do a series doing that. I didn't know if I wanted to do a chorus or anything. But the first one is just a freestyle, the second one is too. And the third and fourth one, I decided to bring this song kind of element to the freestyle.
It seems like "Queen's Speech Ep. 4" really made you more of a popular name around the internet. Why do you think that is?
I think "Queen's Speech 2" really hit it off. But, for the Americans to find out about me, most of them found me through there ["Queen's Speech Ep. 4"]. There's a guy called DeLorean that posted my video on Facebook and he's got like 30 million views now. And I think he brought a lot of attention to that. So it's mainly him just posting that. Now, Erykah Badu shared some love, she said it's ill. And Natalie from Floetry. It's just crazy the people that are reaching out to me who's showing respect and love. It's overwhelming really.
Watch Lady Leshurr's "Queen's Speech Ep. 4" Video
The visuals really help as well. For instance, Rick Ross' face, Fetty Wap; it makes it interactive. Whose idea was it to incorporate these elements this time? This video is certainly more fun compared to the other "Queen's Speech" videos.
It was my idea. I feel like the music industry at the moment is missing the fun element, the entertainment style like when you see Missy Elliott wearing a big massive blow up thing in that video ["The Rain"]. It's just entertainment and fun to watch. So, I wanted to keep the viewer locked in with the pictures and the words popping up on the screen because not a lot of people are doing that in the industry right now. So I want to bring a new fresh sound and visual.
Do you plan to bring that new, fresh sound to America any time soon?
A million percent -- hopefully.
I know you mentioned Eminem and N.W.A. as some of your influences but are you a fan of Nicki Minaj?
Yeah, man. I've always respected her, what she's doing and done. I knew about her before she was even like the Nicki she is now and I just thought she was dope from the first time I heard her. I like the concepts she's doing, the punchlines. She's very similar to Lil Wayne and Lil Wayne is who really inspired me to do different types of music and just do funny punchlines. So yes, she's dope, she's dope, she's dope.
Is there any specific Lil Wayne line that you really took in?
I've got favorite songs like the first that I heard is my favorite, "Go DJ." That's my favorite song and "A Milli" and "P---- Money Weed." That is my top three Lil Wayne songs. And I like "Lollipop" as well. There's just so many.
Why do you choose those?
They're all different sounds like "Lollipop" is more of a singing song. "A Milli" is just, he's spazzing. He's just showing people his talent and "P---- Money Weed," that's very laid-back and calm. It's relaxing to me. I can zone out to that song. And "Go DJ," that's the first song I heard of him when I was playing like a Midnight Club 3 on Playstation . That's when I first heard him and that became my favorite song.
I saw that you played the lead role in the movie One Day. Do you plan to continue acting and do you have any projects lined up?
Yeah, 100 percent. A movie that I'm starring in is called Lapse of Honour, that's released on Sept. 18. There's another film that I have called Legacy. That's out in September too. I'm also going to be doing some sketch shows like a sketch series, hopefully. But I still act. I do a lot on my Snapchat. So I've got a few things I've got in the pipeline.
Do you have a name for your sketch series yet?
No, I don't have a name for it yet. I've got different people in it. I have a guy called Leon, he's a South London rapper. He's broke and something bad always happens to him. So I would call that A Day in the Life of Leon. So I have different things but overall I don't know what it's going to be called.
What's next for you?
That's going to be a album. It's gonna be the first body of work that I'm going to be very proud of. I've got a tour in October. France and Spain in November. And hopefully we're going to do a mini tour in America as well. There's some big features I've been working on as well. Can't name any names. So I'm just going to keep focused. Keep doing what I'm doing and just make entertainment music.
Are you going to add any more "Queen's Speech" tracks to the project?
Some of my songs are going to sound like "Queen's Speech" but I'm not going to call them "Queen's Speech" because people are getting a bit confused. They don't know if they're songs or freestyles. So yeah, they're gonna be songs that are similar to "Queen's Speech."
So you consider "Queen's Speech" as more of a freestyle?
Yeah, it is really. It is a freestyle but I just put the chorus element to the freestyle so people can sing along to it. And it's working so I'm just going to keep doing that. And then I'll do a radio version where it'll all sound like a song so I'm defeating two birds with one stone really.
Watch Lady Leshurr's "Queen's Speech Ep. 3" Video
You mentioned you can't talk about features, but are there any collaborations you'd love to do?
I would love to work with Missy Elliott. She's one of my favorites. Lil Wayne of course. Jhene Aiko, Teyana Taylor. There's not really a lot. Taylor, Ed Sheeran. I think that's about it. Those are the main ones.
Why do you choose those?
I've always respected all of them. And I grew up on most of them as well. They've all inspired me in different ways. Ed Sheeran, I just love how real he is. His songs have a lot of meaning -- things that I can really relate to. And Jhene she got me through a really hard time in my life. She's got really emotional songs so they really relate in certain times in your life. Oh and Chris Brown as well.
Why Chris Brown?
He's just sick, man. He just makes banging choruses. He's probably one of the best singer to make choruses. Him and Drake. But I like Chris because he dances as well. he draws. He expresses himself. He seems very real like he lets his guard down, he'll do funny videos on Instagram. It feels like I get to see the real him. Some people don't like to show you what they're doing with their time or they don't like to have a laugh or show it. But, he just lets people in there.
I'm sure you've seen all of the "Straight Outta Somewhere" memes. I saw that you had "Straight Outta Birmingham" on your Instagram. What does it mean to be "Straight Outta Birmingham"?
It means everything to me just because I have to represent the city that I grew up in from the people I was surrounded with at the time which kept me doing music. I appreciate being from Birmingham. Just to have the accent as well. Having a different accent than a Londoner. When I first came out it was a breath of fresh air for them to hear another accent and another female. It sets me apart from all the other female rappers out there because a majority from them are from London. So that's the main thing that I like.
You sort of hinted that you're going to be in another video series for Dr. Dre's "Straight Outta Somewhere" series. Is he doing one for Birmingham?
I just done some thing with Beats By Dre. It's like a freestyle and that photoshoot was for the Beats By Dre people. I think they're gonna start promoting it and tweeting it on their page as well.
I know you've been getting a lot of great feedback but I've also noticed there's a few negative things people have been saying on social media.
Do you have anything to say about that or to the critics who aren't embracing your lyrical style?
To be honest, before I used to care what people thought of me and I used to take it to heart. But now, I've just become more confident and more comfortable in being myself because this is how I am. I joke about a lot and I just thought I want to bring that to the music. I want people to see how I am. That's the type of person I am 24 hours a day. I just banter. That's what the freestyle is -- it's just banter. It's just light-hearted humor and relatable quotes that people can learn.
So for me, when people say, "Oh, what is this?" and negative stuff, it doesn't even affect me now. I kind of see that and it gives me inspiration to write another lyric. A lot of the hate gives me inspiration to write. I think I saw on "Queen's Speech 3," I saw somebody say something and it was early in the morning when I posted it. And I was like, "They haven't even brushed their teeth yet and they just jumped on YouTube to hate." So that's where I got [the line "How could you talk my name and you ain't even brushed your teeth?"] from. They need to carry on with the things that they're saying because it helps me write the next catchy thing.
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