Lady Leshurr, who has been previously dubbed as the UK’s female version of Busta Rhymes, performed at SB.TV’s first live event at Koko in London this week. Other contributors included Labrinth, Tinchy Stryder, Meesha B., Ms. Dynamite and Cher Lloyd. Whilst the event was about promoting young entrepreneur Jamal Edwards’s SB.TV, it was also a chance for up-and-coming artists as well as those who’ve already made their mark in the industry to use the event as a platform for their music in 2012. Lady Leshurr talks about SB.TV, what she’s been up to so far and where she’s going.
How on earth do you manage to breathe? You rap so fast.
I think I was born with three lungs, seriously. You know what, I don’t even know. When I hear my lyrics back I breathe in unusual places, so I don’t even realize I’m doing it myself.
When did you start rapping?
I started pretending to rap when I was 6 years old to Bam Bam by Sister Nancy — a reggae track my mum used to play around the house. I started doing the voicemails on my mum’s house phone saying ‘pick up the phone, leave a message after the tone.’ When I was about 12 that’s when Eminem came out, and when I first heard him I thought ‘oh my god, I want to rap,’ so I just started rapping. I knew it wasn’t just a hobby, it’s what I wanted to do.
And you started touring around the UK from about 12. How did your mum feel about that?
To be honest, I didn’t really tell my mum that I was doing music. I just did it. I felt a little embarrassed because I didn’t want her to think that I wasn’t going to have any money, or not going to have a job. I don’t think she would have understood it. But now she understands, because things are actually happening for me. She’s proud of me.
So did you miss school to go touring?
Ooh, I never missed school, I was a good girl in school. But what I did do in my Maths lessons — because I was terrible at Maths — I just used to sit at the back of the class and start to write my lyrics in the back of my book. That was my lyric lesson.
Tell me what your debut single “Lego” is all about?
[Laughs] People think it’s about Lego, the bricks. But, no, basically I got Lego from when I did the cover “Look At Me Now” by Chris Brown. He says it before the start of the track. I initially thought it would be great for him to do a whole track on it, but then I thought, “Do you know what? I want to do it.” But it was never meant to be my first single. I got in the studio with Wizzy Wow, he played me about three beats and then I knew: “That’s the one.” I got in the booth and recorded it. It’s about letting go and having fun with life, basically.
So how long does a track take to write and learn for you?
I’m terrible. My brain is terrible. I cannot even remember any of my lyrics, so I’ve always got them in my phone. It doesn’t take me long to write, depending on what the beat is and what the concept is. If I’m really feeling the beat it’ll take me less that 10 minutes.
And how do you remember everything?
Unless the track is recorded it’s really hard to remember. I know with SB.TV, when I first went on there, I kept forgetting the lyrics — one: because I was frightened, two: because I was thinking about the verse too much instead of just letting it flow, so it depends, it depends on whether I’m confident with it or not.
You’ve worked with quite a few big names in the industry, and featured on quite a few of their tracks, right?
Lethal B (Lethal Bizzle), Ms. Dynamite, Tinie Tempah … yeah, back in the day I worked with him and I’ll be working with him again soon.
Do you get to have a lot of input?
Basically, If I’m featured on the track they’ll just send me the track and ask me to do a verse on it based on the concept, but other than that I haven’t really sat down in a studio and worked with an artist yet, and that’s what I want to do. And that’s what’s going to happen on my album (to be released Spring 2012).
And who do you want to work with you on your album?
I want Tinie Tempah again. I listened to him when I was younger and he’s different to all the other MCs that were out there back then. Everyone else was all about guns and stuff, but he started doing wifey tunes — that’s what gets the girls — and that’s what I liked. I’ve always respected him, so it was a privilege working with him.
So are you 23 now, right?
Ahhh, I don’t like to say my age [laughs].
The point I’m trying to make is that you’re still so young and have done so much. You have your own record label and have produced too, haven’t you?
Yeah, that’s right. I always said when I was younger that I wanted to be my own boss, and I wanted to have my own record label. I’ve got that now; it’s called Gutterstrut, so I’m happy about that.
What can we expect from you in 2012?
I’m going to do a school tour next year and write songs specifically about violence, guns, abuse and their consequences. I can tell the kids to stay in school through my music. I’m also going to start up some short films as well. I’ve got so many things planned. I’ve also got a clothing line called ‘Friggin L.’
Named after one of your tracks?
Yeah, I had a mixtape called ‘Friggin L,’ but the clothing line was bigger that I thought it would ever be. It got flown over to the states to meet with a label because of it. It was amazing. All the t-shirts sold out within a week.
So did you ever choose to be a rapper with the intention of making it big?
No, I never knew I was going to make it big, I just did it because I loved music. I just want to change at least one person’s life with my lyrics. And if I can aim to do that then I feel like I’m needed, I’m relevant in the scene. I’ve always wanted to do that.