Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lady Leshurr (hip-hop vs. dancehall)

Lady Leshurr
24" x 12", oil on board, 2012
An NPR story on Reggae in the UK had a mention of one Lady Leshurr that goes like this: "The Birmingham-born MC got her start as a teenager climbing the ranks of the U.K. garage scene.  Leshurr's parents are from St. Kitts in the Caribbean—she has a vocal style that veers toward dancehall-style chat"(ed. from Reggae in The UK: A Steady Force.) From there I followed a link to a YouTube video of her track Lego and the intro of it hit me right away as something new and very exciting. (And the rest didn't disappoint me either.) It heard a sound I hadn't heard in hip-hop before and not in dancehall either. Back to NPR: "Producer Res Kwame says the U.K. music scene produces innovative hybrids because it's less confined by genre than in the U.S.: 'Our producers are just doing it in our neighborhood and we have the means of getting it out: pirate stations. Because we're coming from a culture where radio in the main has not been receptive to black music, we've had to find our own way and means of doing things. And that's led to a creativity at the street level.'"
It sounds a lot like the early days of rap and hip-hop. But rap and hip-hop have now become mainstream. And where then to look to find innovation and excitement?... Exactly "at the street level". Leshurr mentions both dancehall diva Lady Saw and hip-hop's Lil Wayne as her influences. The imaginary circle that contains the early Jamiacan DJs (such as King Stitt) and reggae, as well as the history of hip-hop music in the US has been England.
Lady Leshurr was born as Melesha O’ggaro. She released two mixed tapes (that can be downloaded for free) before recording her first single Lego in 2011 for an actual record label.

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