Lady Leshurr Q&A: “My mum made me realise I don’t need a man in my life”

The rapper talks Kanye West, a salmon-eating competition, and the Sixties.

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Lady Leshurr, a grime and hip hop artist, was born in Solihull in 1989. She released her first mixtape at 14 and in 2015, her freestyle series “Queen’s Speech” went viral. She started writing poetry aged six.

What’s your earliest memory?

In the youth club opposite my house in Birmingham. There was a DJ booth with loads of guys, and little old me. I was wearing a silver tracksuit and Rockports and I was trying to get on the mic.

Who are your heroes?

My mum. I just want to make her happy and buy her nice things. She was a single mother – she had to look after four kids, she was the mum and the dad, and she had three jobs. It made me realise I don’t need a man in my life. I can just go out and get it.

What was the last book that changed your thinking?

I’ve got a balcony with a little sofa and I leave the Bible on the arm. Sometimes I’ll cut the book, and wherever it goes I will read that page. Also, Mindfulness by Mark Williams. It teaches you not to overthink.

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

Salmon. I know when it’s got lemon on it, or when it’s got the beechwood taste. I did a competition eating different types of salmon and guessing what’s on it. Like wine-tasting but with salmon.

Which political figure, past or present, do you most look up to?

I loved Barack Obama but he wasn’t my president. I don’t have nobody in the UK.

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

The Sixties. I wonder what type of person I’d be without social media. I’d be so free with the world. I’d have an old soul.

What TV show could you not live without?

As a kid I loved Recess on the Disney Channel. There was a girl called Spinelli, a little tomboy who beat up the lads in the playground just like me.

What’s your theme tune?

“Work” by Rihanna. Whenever it comes on, everyone knows it’s my time to shine.

Who would paint your portrait?

Am I allowed a rapper? Chris Brown. He paints and he draws – cool, abstract graffiti art and portraits too; he’s really talented.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

Be yourself because they’re going to hate you anyway. I was told that by a guy at an event and now, I do whatever I feel like doing. I used to worry, can I go on Instagram without make-up? Now I do it all the time. Nothing really matters.

What’s currently bugging you?

My album. I want to get it right. I have loads of tracks but they have to feel like a journey – it’s my first body of work. Kanye has just released a seven-track album and now everyone thinks that is the maximum number of tracks you can have!

What single thing would make your life better?

Driving. I might feel even freer.

When were you happiest?

In 2015. I created something [the Queen’s Speech series] that changed my life. I got my mum a house, I got my sister a car, and I got my own place. Life is good because of 2015.

In another life, what job might you have chosen?

A music teacher for a youth club.

Are we all doomed?

Unfortunately, we are. Run. Run for cover now. I don’t even want to get into it. But yes. We are doomed. 

Lady Leshurr’s debut album “Unstable” is released later this year

This article first appeared in the 29 June 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Germany, alone