We Catch Up With Birmingham Artist Lady Leshurr At This Years BMA’s.
Lady Leshurr first burst on to the scene and is best known for her Queen’s Speech series of freestyles which went viral in 2016. With her own YouTube channel now at over 1 million subscribers and her videos getting over a million views. Her unique style has earned her a place on stage with Nicki Manaj and last week so took away the award for “Best Rap/Grime Artist” at the Birmingham Music Awards.
Our resident music lover Lilith Holsey-Sheppard caught up with her at the awards to find out more about the Birmingham artist.
It’s an absolute pleasure to finally meet you and get the chance to sit down and chat – it’s been a long time in the making!
You’re a Solihull girl born and bred, what is your favourite thing about Birmingham?
My favourite thing about Birmingham is the people, the energy, the banter and the personality. I noticed a lot since going down to London, they don’t even understand our banter, they don’t understand that we just have fun with it! We don’t take life serious and it’s very serious down there you know, everyone’s stressed and everyone’s smoking. It’s the people and the energy, it’s the fact that you can walk past someone and say you alright and it’s the positivity.
What is your favourite hang out when you’re back in Brum?
I barely go out! I barely went out when I lived here as well, I was just so on music that I didn’t care about clubbing, I didn’t care about drinking or smoking or anything. I would just go to the studio and shows and stay in my house writing so I didn’t really go anyone other than Digbeth when they had Rainbow venues. I used to go there a lot, The Goonies used to put on an event there. There was another place where Mark Dwayne used to put on an event, I can’t remember what he used to call it but I used to go there a lot as well.
It’s good to know that you’ve know all along that your home is a studio.
Yeah man. My home is a studio.
There is lots of talent emerging from the Midlands right now, particularly Birmingham? Who are your favourites right now?
My favourite is probably Trumendous, I’ve been screaming Trumendous for I think the past, I think I first saw her in 2011 on Facebook and she was doing videos just like me, grinding from the bedroom just setting up her camera and freestyling. I love that because that shows the rawness and the grittiness and the struggle from the ground up. And now she’s putting up quality music videos. Big up tremendous every time, I don’t really say it a lot of stuff that I do because it’s all behind the scenes but when I saw her I put her in touch with my business partner whos based In Wales. We’ve got a studio out there so she’d just go and do what she needs to do and get her music out there. We’ve got Lady Sanity as well.
Yes, we love Lady Sanity.
Who else….Mist! I love Mist, he’s just so humble and genuine, he can have a laugh, he can be serious and he’s just such a cutie.
Because it’s Mental Health Awareness week and I’ve seen a lot recently on you touching on your own mental health awareness. Is that something that you’ve been aware of for quite a while and been vocal about for quite a while?
It was a thing where I had to go through it to understand it. I never knew what anxiety and depression was when I was younger and I think that’s just because there was no social networking sites like there is now. Everyone is just so infatuated with the lights and the fuse and the insights. They’ve just put that on snapchat and I had a little rant yesterday because that’s the only place I’ve been my place, on Snapchat, but now they’re breaking down everything into particles now where you can see how many people you’ve lost watching you and stuff like that, that makes you subconsciously makes you think, oh damn I need to snap more, I need to do this more and I hate it. I actually hate social media but I know I need it because that’s how I’ve got my brand.
How do you manage that alongside your own career?
It’s really hard, I’m not gonna lie. It’s sacrificed friendships, relationships, I’m not gonna lie, I’m on my phone 24/7 because I’m me, there’s only one person in my team, that’s me right now. I don’t have management, I’m not working with anyone and I’ve always been like this, I’ve always been my own manager at heart so I make sure I do the socials. I love doing social and I love speaking to people. That’s just me, that’s the Brum in me! It does takes its toll and I’ve taken a step back from all my socials. I used to be on them all the time, 24/7 and now it’s just like I’ve just got to let me mental health breathe so that’s what I’m doing at the moment.
Going back to The Queen’s Speech, how did that originate, all of your freestyling and all of that?
It’s so mad! I stopped doing music for a year because I had a mental breakdown. I’m laughing now because it’s so far away back and I’ll never get to that point. I was in a toxic relationship, came out of it and that person was in music as well. That really took its toll on me because I’ve never had a relationship in the music industry and I’ve always said to myself, never do it because music is all you have. It really broke me down to the point to where I knew that I had to leave music because my mental was all over the place. I was doing sad and depressive songs and that’s not me and I was like you know what I need to just focus on my mental health and come back to music when I can, rebrand myself and come back with new music where people are like Rah is this the new Leshurr. Throughout that whole year, I didn’t listen to anything that was out. I didn’t listen to any music or any of these newcomers that were emerging at this time. All I was watching was Battle Rap, I was infatuated with it and there was this thing called Queen of the Ring. It was just females spitting and there was this one girl called Couture and she was just the sickest and I always used to think she is the best ever and why isn’t she big and why has no one noticed. It just clicked to me. It clicked in my head, why hasn’t no one done a freestyle battle kind of song with a chorus and melody because that’s all that is missing. The bars are fire, the punch lines are fire, the metaphors are sick but they just didn’t know how to make a song. That’s where I got my inspiration from. I was like I’m going to do a song but it’s not going to be a song, it’s going to be a freestyle and I’m going to make people believe it’s a song from the melody. All my Queen’s Speeches are like 32 bars per verse when a normal song would be from 8 to 16 bars and the way I did it, I finessed peoples brains. They just thought it was a song but really its just a really long free style. That’s just what clicked, I’m going to talk about things that go viral, things that people know about and The Queen’s Speech thing was me just randomly falling across The Queen’s Speech. I remember it was about 3 in the morning and I saw The Queen on my Youtube, it was recommended on my feed and I was so confused, why is The Queen recommended. I clicked it and it was The Queen’s Speech and I thought this would be so sick if I did this and round up whatever is going on across the socials and going viral and people will be able to relate. I just got to work within that first 6 months, I was just writing down loads of things and how many I wanted to do. I was only going to go up to 4 but the 4th one blew up and I knew I had to keep going with the formula. I knew exactly what I was gonna do but I didn’t know what I was gunna say, I knew I was gunna have things popping up and I knew I wanted to do one take.
You had the vision.
That’s the thing with me, everything comes from me. It has to come from me otherwise it’s not organic. I never wear dresses, I’ll wear dresses on special occasions but people know that’s not me. So if I start randomly going to shows performing in a dress, people will know that’s not me. Everyone knows what I am, snap back, crop top, baggy trousers, everyone knows my style. With The Queen’s Speech I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t know what I wanted to say. I made the beat, I had to make the beat before I did the lyrics, so I’m beat boxing in my phone then I’m writing lyrics to the beatbox then I’m going to the studio then I’m making the beat in the studio.
So you literally did everything from the start.
Everything! I knew if I did this, I knew something was going to happen. I just didn’t know how big it was going to be. I just knew that no one was doing what I was doing. In my heart, I was going to church and praying a lot and I needed God those times as well and I just knew something was going to happen if I stuck with this project and I was consistence with it and it happened.
And the rest is history! Annie Mac is a huge champion of you. How does it feel to have someone so legendary, like Annie saying you need to listen to this woman.
It’s mad! She’s just incredible. Meeting her at the radio station for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew of her but I didn’t know how much she does. She’s very down the kids, she knows whats gonna pop and she’s always believed in me. When I was having trouble with my management and even with my label she was just like, let me know whenever you’ve got another song or single coming our just send it to me. Those things really touch my heart like I will never forget you on my journey. She believed in me when everyone was just falling back and deteriorating in front of my eyes and she still had my back.
And you recently joined Nicki Minaj on stage on her tour in Birmingham! How was that for you?
That was surreal. Let me break it down. I was so anxious, the day before, she’d never reached out to me before or anything, the last time I spoke to her about the show was when I commented on her picture saying please can I do Birmingham. I don’t ever vote for myself, but can I do Birmingham with the hand emoji and she actually replied. I just couldn’t believe it; I was actually not expecting a response so when she replied that was actually 6 months before the actual show and I never bothered her at all. I know she’s a Sagittarius just like me and I know how it is, she’s Caribbean just like me. Out of sight, out of mind! I knew if I wasn’t going to hit her up she’s probably forget so I actually left it until this year and near the time. She hadn’t reached out and she’d reached out to everyone else, she’d reached out to Ms Banks and to Lisa Mercedes, Stylo G and she hasn’t reached out to me and the show is tomorrow.
Was it really that close? The day before?!
I kind of understood because at that time, I think she’s changing management as well so she was doing everything herself. She was directly speaking and with everyone else they were dealing with her management but I was like can I not deal with management because obviously they’re confirmed. So I just slid in her DM and I was like Sorry Nicki to bother you but is everything OK for tomorrow and I had no response. I woke up in the morning and my heart sank, I was getting spots and I was just so stressed because those are the things that I’ve prepared my whole life for. It was a big opportunity and I respect her grind and I’ve seen her when she was freestyling in the streets so it was a big thing. I’m never prepared but I took a suitcase because I had a shoot with Ms Banks so I thought let me just pack a bag and clothes and just try and get someone to do my make up there. So I did the shoot with Banks, Lioness and will.i.am and I was like Thanks, has Nicki spoken to you yet and she was like yeah. I was like I’ve heard nothing back and it’s 3pm in London and I don’t want to be that person that tries to tag along and they all had a tour bus ready and I was like this is peak. And then because there was no reception when I was doing my performance and then when I came out I seen it pop up and she was just like Yeah babe, just come and I was like I am there! She was just a lovely person. It’s so frustrating, I can be here for hours about Nicki because her come up is so similar to mine. Just the fact that she’s been mugged countless times and people have spoken to her and said I don’t really like that part of your verse. You really think these artists would be going to male rappers saying that but because she’s a female they think they can say it. Men don’t understand it. When I have my little rants, men can watch and say she’s just moaning and complaining but they don’t know because they’ve never been a woman. I’ll never know how it is to be a man. I’ll never know how it is to be a black man. It’s a struggle. You’ll have people coming up to you for all the wrong reasons because they wanna slide in to your panties and you DMs and you don’t want to and they’ll be like oh alright I don’t want to work with you no more. Trust me, all of that has happened to me. People have black listed, blackballed me, all of that, all of the above you can think of has happened to me but I’m still here. I’m always going to speak about it because a lot of people won’t. I know some girls that things have happened to and they wont speak about it because of the people that they are. I’m sorry but if a big person is going to do something, I will expose.
What else has 2019 got in store for you? What can we look out for?
There are a few things that are coming up but I don’t want to jinx it. I’ve got a book coming out and a documentary. It’s going to be about random stuff, you’re gonna see when I was doing Queen’s Speech 5
Fantastic, we can’t wait! Lady Leshurr thank you so much for talking to us today and good luck in tonight’s awards.