Fake For Real

The English written companion of Fake For Real: reviews, interviews and articles about rap music

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Lady Leshurr is one of those who, recently, benefited from the grime resurgence. Along with others like Skepta or Stormzy, this British rapper caught the attention of her American peers over the last few months, with her "Queen's Speech" freestyle series. The fourth of them even made it to a Samsung commercial, exposing her to a large audience. And in her recent interviews, she mentioned potential collaborations with US heavyweights like Bangladesh and Timbaland.


Self-released :: 2011 :: download mixtape

It is not the first time, though, that Lady Leshurr is identified as a rising star, or that she is noticed in America. It happened already, by 2011, with her third – or maybe her fourth, depending on how we count them – mixtape: Friggin L. This was such a defining release for her, that she would name that way her own clothing brand. The reason why this was noticed, was her own take on Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now". Her video was a parody of the original one, and it buzzed significantly on the Internet, catching the ears of people like Lil Wayne and Trey Songz. And Lady Leshurr's notoriety developed even further a bit later, with the success of her single "Blazin’", a collaboration with the production duo Torqux. By then, she had been offered attracting deals by major labels. But she declined their proposals, apparently unhappy with being positioned as a rival to Nicki Minaj.

This background story is telling us something about Lady Leshurr: her music has a strong US focus, even if she is associated to the grime scene. After having been an actress in a movie about gangs, 1 Day, by 2009, and relocated to London, she'd been acknowledged by grime rappers as one of them. And her style, made for a large part of freestyles delivered in double time on IDM-sounding music – she even collaborated with electronic music veterans like Orbital – was quite close to theirs. However, the citizen of Birmingham whom Melesha O'Garro was, has been primarily influenced by the likes of Eminem, Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes, in their most extravagant times. And her music is full of such American influences.

This is obvious on Friggin L. This traditional kind of mixtape – it compiled freestyles delivered on existing materials – did not only appropriate Chris Brown's music. As early as with the first track, with her impressively quick flow, she rode Rick Ross' monstrous "B.M.F". She did the same with Lil Wayne and Cory Gunz's "6 Foot 7 Foot". And then, with "Pizzin' on 'Em", putting aside her typical style of rap, she imitated Nicki Minaj's in a convincing way on her own "Did It on 'Em". It was only at the end, with "Touch a Follow Button", that Leshurr recalled where she was from. When, as an Englishwoman of Caribbean descent, she turned into dancehall; or when she was 100% grime again with Tinchy Stryder's "Game Over".

It was actually the second time that Lady Leshurr played with that track. She had done it one year earlier, along with seven other UK female rappers, on a powerful feminist anthem. But with Friggin L, it was her own manifesto that she delivered.

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