Friggin L… mid week already. Must mean it’s Wednesday. So who we crushing on?! Melesha Ogarro… aka Lady Leshurr. Reppin 0121, Brum Town, Birmingham City, she has proven herself to be an established grime and hip hop rapper, singer, and producer. Born to parents from the Caribbean, her first foray was into poetry and writing at age six but she decided that writing music would bring her to a wider audience. Smart girl! She released her first mixtape at age fourteen.
“I grew up around music. My mum used to play a lot of reggae like Sister Nancy and Bob Marley around the house so basically, when I was around six, I was messing about and doing my own little raps and songs. My family are all rappers and singers anyway so I was always involved in it from a young age.”
Some of you may recall seeing Leshurr play one of the lead female roles in Vertigo Films‘ (2009) film “1 Day”. She won second place in the Best Female category of the Official Mixtape Awards (2011). To complement the music releases, she has designed a range of merchandise, the “Friggin L” clothing line named after her 2011 mixtape Friggin L. After making shockwaves when she initially stepped on the scene, it would be safe to say that Leshurr returned to being more of an underground rapper – you’d have been more likely to catch her playing small gigs or releasing mixtapes… then she began uploading catchy YouTube and Instagram clips. She is best and most popularly known for her Queen’s Speech series of freestyles (and videos, inspired by battle rap, each filmed in one continuous take), the fourth of which went viral in 2016.
“I never expected Queen’s Speech to do what it did. I took a year out before I started those. I used to just fling out songs here and there, but I took a break, and started to get to know myself. Because, even though I had been doing music for ages, I didn’t feel like I had a proper trademark sound.”
But the lyrics of the songs attracted just as much attention as the videos she filmed for them. Their playful, comedic element rapidly became a crucial part of her identity.
“People associate grime with violence and aggression, and I wanted to be the person to change that. The lyrics that I use – I don’t swear, I don’t talk about drugs and violence.”
Another key Lady Leshurr trait is her distinctive accent, which shines through on every song.
“When I was really young, I was rapping in an American accent, I didn’t really embrace my own accent back then. But when I heard Ms Dynamite, I just thought, I respect what she’s doing, I wanna be like that – she’s using her accent, I should be able to use mine… And now I love it! I’m happy that I’m from Birmingham and it did work to my advantage eventually.”
But perhaps the most striking thing about speaking to Leshurr is how removed she is in person from the loud, brash, flamboyant personality you see in her videos. She’s hinted at her introverted nature in songs before. On her Unleashed 2 freestyle and a year on from its release, she says little has changed.
“I’m basically the opposite person of who I am on stage. I keep to myself, barely go out. I’m shy, I’m nervous, I don’t look in people’s eyes when I’m talking to them. I decided to put that song out because it’s how I felt, and it’s powerful. If I’m going through something, I’ll write sad music… I have to write it just to turn the page. But when I’m doing a Queen’s Speech, I just come out of myself, and I’m down to try everything.”
As she works towards the release of her first full-length studio album, Leshurr is now winding down the Queen’s Speech project (although she does say she’ll continue to do them “now and again”). In the meantime, she’s releasing freestyles and stand-alone videos and regularly clocks up millions of views for each release. Impressive. One of the most recent being Black Panther (filmed on London’s DLR network) which really lit up the scene and made people remember she is a force to be reckoned with! The flow and the video was so hard and innovative that it caught the eye of Leshurr’s biggest inspiration – Missy Elliott! Well deserved recognition, considering Black Panther uses Missy’s iconic “She’s A B*tch” beat (produced by Timbaland). The video was released 2 months ago and currently stands at 2.5 million views on YouTube.
She also recently lent her support to a campaign to encourage responsible drinking, and has a number of live dates lined up – including recently completing a hugely successful tour of Australia and upcoming appearances at the Reading and Leeds festival this August.
“Now I think it’s going to be more just proper music. A lot of people think I can’t make songs, they just think I’m a comedian rapper, but I’m still delivering punchlines, content, flow and technique so it’s a bit frustrating, but I definitely want to show the grown-up side now.”
Whilst in Australia she found time to film a video for her latest single “OMW” (out now) https://youtu.be/LGQSAARiXqQ and in just 1 month has already received 1 million views. She is definitely back with a bang and once again proving she is versatile, exciting, unpredictable, passionate and worthy of each accolade she receives. Lady Leshurr… you definitely have the juice gyal and it nah guh run out just yet!
Follow Lady Leshurr here:
*Rewritten and edited by Chellz (Senior Writer – The Hook Up)
[Sources / Quotes obtained via Wikipedia and The Sun]