If you’re not familiar with Lady London, prepare to fall in love. Born in New York but raised in New Jersey, the multi-hyphenate is the definition of an authentic artist who speaks her mind. With undeniable bars and hard-hitting punchlines, the rising emcee is one of the best storytellers in the music industry.
The East Coast spitter ditched her pre-med career to pursue music, giving hope to everyone out there with a dollar and a dream. Her biggest influences include JAY-Z, Foxy Brown, Lil’ Kim, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston and Drake — which provides some insight on her artistry and lyrical prowess.
Everything changed in 2018 after she posted her “Viral” freestyle on Facebook, blowing up organically with over 8.7 million views to date. In January of this year, London dropped her critically acclaimed project Lady Like: The Boss Tape, further securing her status as one of the rap game’s contemporary elite. The 13-track project begins with the song that got her foot in the door, “Viral,” and ends with “Lisa’s Story,” which London pairs with a cinematic visual that details the typical New York romance. Topping off her success thus far, she also has songwriting credits on ABC’s hit series “Queens,” which stars icons Brandy, Eve and Naturi Naughton.
A true superstar-in-the-making, REVOLT caught up with N.Y.’s finest for Women’s History Month. In our exclusive chat, Lady London discusses women artists being underestimated, maintaining integrity in the male-dominated industry of music, her style, her forthcoming EP and much, much more. Get to know her below.
It’s intriguing that you were going the pre-med route. What were your original career plans?
How does it feel to be doing music instead?
Your fans love you for shedding light on women’s perspectives. Do you ever have anxiety about being outspoken in your music?
Sometimes. But I think the way in which I say it, even the men can almost be like, ‘Okay, I respect it. I can understand why you felt that, and I respect it.’ I try to keep it a little bit unbiased, but I’m for the girls. That’s just what it is. Somebody needs to speak on behalf of us.
Who are your favorite women rappers?
Everybody! It’s hard to make a concise list, but of course we have the pioneers of the game. The MC Lyte’s, the Latifah’s, the Roxanne Shanté’s, the Foxy Brown’s, the Kim’s, the Nicki Minaj’s and the Cardi B’s … everybody that’s out now. Lauryn Hill, Eve! There’s just so many. There’s so, so many, and I’m honored to be amongst them now.
Who are some of your personal women heroes?
I definitely would say the women in my family are at the forefront. I come from such a lineage of strong, independent women that have really, really paved the way for me. My grandma and my mom would have to be at the forefront of the heroes or idols in my life.
Lady Like: The Boss Tape is out now. How has the project affected your career?
It definitely amplified everything. I was known for my freestyles, so putting it all into one space where people can consume it at their own leisure was amazing. Having it be such a diverse palette of different subject matters and topics was amazing, too. I asked people what their favorite track was on the album and everyone had a different opinion, which is amazing to me because that means every track resonated with somebody.
Tell us about songwriting for ABC’s “Queens” series.
It was fun because when Zahir [McGhee] had approached me about everything, and when we had the conference call about the character Lil Muffin, who I predominantly write for — she’s this quirky, anime girl who’s really into Naruto and Japanese culture. Things I had no idea about, right? So, I’m doing research on it. I’m trying to really become this character as I’m writing for her. What I think is incredible is that I knew, prior to the season even going forward, that she was eventually going to switch into being her more authentic self instead of this character. I had the opportunity to write for her at this super animated, child-like level and then go into who she really is becoming as a woman — when she drops the gimmick side of her.
It was a great transition and it helped me to come out of my comfort zone, almost because I had to become someone else in that space. I look forward to doing more things like that — even voiceovers or something Disney. Something within the film world that makes you think, “Okay well beyond hip hop, what else can I do?”
What inspires your style?
My name is Lady London, and a lot of it has to do with being a boss. ‘Boss Lady’ is the mantra of it. Being a lady in general is important for me, so I try to keep it very queen-aesthetic: very avante-garde, very editorial, just clean for the most part. Supporting other Black designers is really important for me, too. Anything stylish, anything structured is really my go-to.
When did you pick up the nickname “Aristotle of Bravado”?
It’s funny, I was freestyling to ‘Touch It’ by Busta Rhymes. I made it up on the spot at the end of the freestyle because it rhymed with whatever else I was saying. But as I really unpack it, Aristotle is one of the great philosophers of the world, along with Socrates and Plato. Rap is philosophy really, and ‘bravado’ means confidence or boldness. I express that in my raps oftentimes. Really it became this compilation of, you know, that’s really how they describe me: Aristotle of Bravado.
What are some obstacles that you face in the male-dominated industry of music?
Of course, we have the typical discourse: ‘You’re a female rapper.’ Oftentimes, they continue to push the narrative of, ‘You’re great for a female. You’re really good as a female.’ I think that’s really arbitrary. I don’t find a need for you to put that before it, but I understand why they do. Also, maintaining your integrity, your morals and your principles in the game while being in such a male-dominated space, where men are used to having their way with things. Bringing a different spin to things, where you come in with your talent at the forefront and a no–nonsense approach makes it really, really cool.
Can you tell us about the music video for “Lisa’s Story.” I love Maliibu Mitch and loved seeing her in the visual.
Yes! She is amazing. Everybody who came out for the video, they were amazing. They were true to character and really got into the mood of everything. I did the creative direction for it, I came up with the concept during the pandemic. Originally, I had dropped only the first verse of it on TikTok. It went viral. It was crazy. Everybody was doing reenactments for it.
When I thought about extending the story, I had to give a male perspective, so I had my friend Dub Aura come on. When I thought about the video, Maliibu Mitch — being who she is and such a powerful, confident woman and everything — I wanted her to come in. I had a friend of mine, Breeze, who came and did the Diamond role. She was super in character, too. Having everybody tap into someone different from who they really are, including myself, for the visual was so dope. I’m so proud of it and where it is now.
How did it feel to sell out Sounds of Brazil (SOB’s)? Congrats!
Oh my gosh! Thank you so much. I was so nervous in rehearsals. My team kept telling me, ‘Relax. Let your shoulders down, just chill out.’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know how they’re gonna feel about it.’ Once I walked on stage, all the anxiousness and nervousness went away because they were singing my lyrics word for word. Every song was beautiful. I packed out the show — we sold out. We only had eight days of promotion for it. It was incredible to see it happen like that.
What’s your favorite song to perform for fans?
What can we expect from your forthcoming project?
I’m coming out with an EP hopefully by Q4. I don’t know for sure — maybe Q4 or top of next year. But it’s an EP. It’s going to be called The Missing Piece, and it’s all original songs. So, it’s nothing like what you guys have heard thus far. It gives you a good insight into me as an artist … as a real artist coming into my own. I’m excited!
What inspired the title The Missing Piece?
I call it that because it’s a double entendre. I’m the missing piece to the game as in a puzzle piece, as well as a missing piece of serenity in the game. That middle pocket of not too hyped, not too political … that small gauge of in-between what’s known to be in hip hop right now. You can expect so much — a palette, a range of versatility in the project as a whole.
What do you want fans to take away from your music?
That they can be anything they want to be, they can do anything they want to do, and that they should remain confident with themselves. Also, being okay with being transparent and being vulnerable at times. We’re not one-dimensional in any way. Sometimes you have days when you feel like you’re the best ever or the flyest, the baddest. Then, there’s days when you can’t see yourself get out of bed in the morning. You’re facing all of this nervousness and anxiety, things like that. It’s okay because to be human means all of that stuff. I try to express a wide range of different feelings that are in both me and my music. I hope that they can take away something from somewhere.
How should young girls who want to follow in your footsteps deal with being underestimated?
Just fight your fight. Underestimation is guaranteed to happen to you, whether it be by a man or other women counterparts. Continuing to stand your ground and walk in your purpose fully is important. When you believe it wholeheartedly and sincerely, other people can believe it, too. Walking with that confidence and that boldness about you is important.
What do you want your legacy to be?
My heart, just having a good heart. Always approaching things with God first. That’s the most important thing to me — to leave this Earth with people knowing my spirit was okay, that my intentions were pure and authentic. And of course, my music to be some of the best ever.
What are you most excited for next?
My single coming out sometime next month and a visual for it as well. Man, I’m just happy for you guys to get my first real single in the marketplace. You guys are going to love it. I hope that it hypes the crowd up. It’s one of the uptempo ones. I know people were excited to hear from different perspectives in that space, so I think people are really going to like it, and I hope they do.