Reigning from North London, Lady Lykez’ brand of robust, momentum inducing, British hip-hop has garnered high acclaim from audiences and peers alike. Lykez’s music is impactful and seizes the listeners attention with tribal, visceral grooves, interlaced with slick, upfront production and most significantly Lady Lykez’ jaw-dropping, versatile and explosive rapping ability.
Additionally, her music is empowering, uplifting, witty and personable; striking a balance between levity and turbulence and showcasing acute skill and personality in tandem. Nowhere is this more evident than on Lady Lykez new EP release Muhammad Ali. We sat down with the Lady of the moment to talk about the new release, influences and her origins in rap battling.
When first did rapping become important to you?
When I was 11 I had older cousins who liked to spit and have jamming sessions at their house. I would be this little girl there, listening to them spitting over old-school garage and I got really inspired by that. So, it actually started with one of my cousins giving me one of his lyrics to recite and then eventually thought I should go away and write my own, then from there I would start clashing and battling with other MC’s. I was literally going up to strangers in the street and battling, I was very competitive.
What influences seems to stick out most for you?
When I was a lot younger, I used to really like a lot of American hip-hop. Artists like Eve, Eminem, Missy Elliot and then eventually I got really into Dizzee Rascal. When I heard him, it was really amazing because he was spitting in a British accent, it made me think that I could spit in my own voice, how I sounded was something people could get into. Miss Dynamite too, she was one of the first girls that I really heard with a British accent rapping on the radio and they were really inspiring to me.
I wanted to talk about your flexibility, and how you are able to switch up between metric, break-neck tempo rhymes and then pivot to something with a lot of flow and narrative. Can you tell us how you came to be able to jump from one style to the next?
For me I love flow and lyricism, so that’s were my inspiration from people like Eminem comes from. Even when it comes to the UK artists, I love artist that have really dope lyrics, really dope flow, people like Kano and Ghetts, who are really pushing the boundaries of flow and lyricism. So that’s where my inspiration for that comes from. I really enjoy when a rapper is chopping, that is when a rapper treats the voice like a percussive instrument, people like Busta Rhymes sort of drew me to that. I grew up playing drums in church so I have a very good ear for patterns, I’ve always had a love of using my voice as percussion over a really heavy beat, chopping up my flow.
Your versatility doesn’t just stretch to your rapping ability, in terms of the vibe and instrumentation on the Muhammad Ali EP there are a lot of colours on your palette and I was wondering if this is something you think is important to stay relevant?
Do you know what it is with me? I’m an artist and I’ve always been very musical. I think there is a difference between an artist and an MC and this is not to put anyone down because I love all types of music. Being very musical has been great for me when it comes to creating music, there’s not one style that I would ever stick to, I’m not the kind of artist that could be boxed in.
How do you create new material? Does it happen organically? For example sitting with a producer and rhyming along to a new beat? Does it come more methodically for you? As in getting out your pad and paper and penning new lyrical ideas? Or is it a mixture of the two?
Every track needs something different so I come with whatever I feel like the track gives me. Whatever the track is telling me to do, that’s what I’m going to do. Sometimes you can get really good MC’s but you don’t always have to be trying to spit all over every track. For example, on the track ‘Muhammad Ali’ I just thought I’m going to show my flow at the end of the track but not every track needs that. On ‘Lyke U’ I just had a Dancehall/Bashment vibe with an emphasis on clever word play, melody and dancing to the feel of the groove of the track. Music is expression and there are many types of expression. If music was about one type of expression, I would get bored, I listen to too much music and am influenced by too much to do just one type.
Do you have to think about representing your area verses making an art that generates a larger audience?
Not really it just depends on what the track needs. There’s horses for courses you know? If I need to put my MC hat on I will, if I have to sing, I’ll sing. So, it’s really just me serving the track.
Do you feel like it’s harder for female rappers to get noticed than their male counterparts?
Especially when I first came out I had to be the Sh*t. Whereas for a guy they don’t have that same pressure. Sometimes with male rappers they were kind of left to do their thing and I came out of that time when if you wanted to even get noticed as a female rapper, you had to be so much better than everyone. When there is anything that is male dominated, as a woman you have to better. It was the same in school, I was really good at footy but I had to be nutmegging the whole team for them to think I was good. That kind of,” you’re good for a girl,” mentality should just be,” you’re good because you’re good”.
Muhammed Ali EP is out now on Hyperdub.
Buy it here.
Words: Matt O’Hare Featured Image: Musical D