It was the filming day for the UK BET cypher and Lady Leshurr and RoxXxan were both outside on a break; it was a blazing hot afternoon. Whilst my Flavour buddy Shireen and I were reporting on location, we got the chance to interview the emcees; so we asked them for some snaps. The photographer asks them to stand back to back, to which they both burst into laughter. ‘I’m too short compared to RoxXxan, no way am I doing that!’ Lady Leshurr says firmly but sweetly, before they laugh again and change pose.
The ladies both hail from Birmingham, but Lady Leshurr and RoxXxan could not be more different. RoxXxan is sporting yellow khakis and Adidas for the shoot; her hair fanned out for volume. In contrast, Lady Leshurr was quite literally pint sized and girlie. Not only different in physical form but with her smooth and husky voice, RoxXxan’s flows could definitely not be mistaken for the cute, hyper presence of Lady Leshurr.
However, the two MCs do share the knowledge of what life is like for a female MC out of London. We sat down with the West Midlands ladies to talk about the Birmingham music scene, being a female in Grime and why you shouldn’t air intimate issues on bars…
As we talk to both the MC’s separately on how they feel about the Birmingham grime scene their views are quite different, with RoxXxan exclaiming, ‘DEAD.’ The reason for her response is because, “what they tend to do is instead of just supporting Birmingham talent, they bring down all the grime or underground MC’s from London, like your P Money’s.” Leshurr seems to disagree with RoxXxan. “It’s progressive. It used to be small, now it’s like a lot of people are on it and people are doing their thing such as Trilla and Slick Don. There are a lot of people that are representing in Birmingham, and a lot of people that know them down in London too. It’s really good it’s healthy at the moment.” RoxXxan believes that Birmingham don’t support their own artists; that’s why she moved to London. “There’s no BRIT School, there’s no labels in Birmingham only Punch Records which is an artist development, kind of like the Urban Development in London. Apart from that there’s nobody.”
We move on to discuss how their Birmingham accents might be difficult to understand, especially with Leshurr, (who is known for spitting fast) and how it could deter them from getting further, especially in the States. Leshurr agrees that sometimes it’s hard for her to be understood by some. “I mean I know a lot of people can’t understand what I’m saying when I spit fast. I don’t worry when I’m in the booth, I just do what I do and hopefully people can understand me. It’s not just my high-pitched voice like a little kid, but my accent is completely different to London. I know it is hard to understand something’s that I say.” RoxXxan tells us her opinion on making it in the US, “I just believe in good music, look at Tinie’s ‘Written In The Stars’, although it never got No.1, he sold a million records over there so it’s platinum. Although it wasn’t straight away, it’s happened now and he’s very easy to understand. They didn’t really get Dizzee Rascal though, he’s really fast. People accept it or they don’t.” They both agree that good music is good music, they don’t think about people accepting it, they do what works for them.
RoxXxan tells us how she uses her roots in her music… “My family are Irish and Jamaican, there’s a lot of slang, ‘Go On The Horse’, that’s what the Irish say, and ‘Bumbclart!’ for the Jamaican’s. I just have fun with music, I don’t really take it too seriously, unless it needs to be.” Whilst she is often in London to become more integrated in the UK music scene, Leshurr thinks that a permanent move would not be the right decision for her right now. “I did want to, but I don’t think I’m going to now because I know that it’s possible to get back and forth between where I need to go. It’s a little bit of money, but it’s a lot of money to live and stay down here and get a house down here. I prefer to come back and forth, but I really do love London it’s my second home.”
The question of being a female in a male dominated game comes up. Leshurr tells us, “When I started listening to Shystie, No Lay and Ms Dynamite, I knew there was hope and it was possible to get your name out there. People respect you for being a female, as well as an all round great entertainer and artist. Right now though I don’t think it’s hard because a lot of other female MC’s are doing it. It’s a very good time I love it.” RoxXxan explains to us her feelings on the subject, “we are born how we’re born, and it is the way it is. It’s a male dominated scene, it’s hard, you just have to step up and prove yourself. Even today being at the BET Cypher, there were Ghetts, Bigz, Chipmunk and G Fresh, it was hard so as a girl you just have to go all out even just to get noticed. You have to hold your own and become comfortable with it.”
RoxXxan talks to us about another Birmingham female MC… “Can I just say about OG Niki, I just want to apologise to everyone who watched the YouTube video, I don’t even know her personally. I see what’s she’s tried to do, and I just hope it is because she is young. I know she’s trying to create a buzz, and do what hasn’t been done before, or to the extent it hasn’t been done before. I just think respect yourself though, not even respect women, but respect yourself, your 17. Not being rude, but she’s not going to find a decent guy now; you’re not helping yourself. She was on the news looting and stuff.” RoxXxan is a strong believer in keeping her private life private, and how she keeps her image and bars real, “I don’t do the whole sexy thing, obviously I’m 22 I have sex, but I take the Beyonce route in my bars. I think you don’t have to give it all, music is what I do it’s not me. If I couldn’t spit anymore, for instance if I lost my voice, I’d still be able to do me, it doesn’t make me who I am. I love it and it’s in my bones, but it doesn’t make me.”
The question now on everybody’s lips is what these two ladies of grime are going to be doing. With Leshurr’s co-sign on the Neva Soft track, we wonder if the 367 ladies who include herself, Lioness and A Dot, will be doing anything together. “Definitely. We want to do tracks together. Were going to do an EP soon, I told them a long time ago we need to do this, so were definitely going to do it now. Were going to have a launch party for it, I’ve even got a top done up with 367 on it. A lot of people are jumping on the wave. It was a mess about thing, but we’ve got to take it seriously now as a lot of people are saying 367 a lot.”
As for RoxXxan? “There’s a lot of females in the game right now. There’s a lot around now because there’s the space, not even a space there’s spaces. There was Dynamite she’s coming back and she’s still got her spot, because when she came she came so well. I think people are looking for new, fresh and exciting talent. The next step for me is to go total left field. Everybody’s on the dubstep, the drum n bass, the slowie, the popie, whatever. Good music is good music; I’m not knocking anyone’s hustle, but for me just expect the unexpectable. I’m experimenting in the studio, writing an album, trying to bring a completely different sound. Obviously you can’t really do what hasn’t been done before, but I’m just taking it somewhere left field.”