Lady Leshurr, otherwise known as Melesha O’Garro, has decided to bring comedy to the UK rap scene with her controversial bars and fun interpretation of pop culture news. She’s best known for her “Queen’s Speech” five-part freestyle series, which got her millions of hits and global attention. Each track had its own video and showcased her talent for delivering punch lines based on current events: “I’ll turn a man to a girl like Bruce Jenner.” Humor, motivational quotes and personal hygiene were some of the recurring themes.
She grew up in Solihull in the West Midlands of England, as part of a big family from the island of St. Kitts. Her family have always been involved with music and so, at the age of six, it was only natural for Melesha to write poems, songs and raps in order to make her presence known. By 14 she created a mixtape, the first in a total of nine over the years, plus 4 EPs. In 2009 she appeared in the critically acclaimed film One Day, as one of the lead female characters. The film was set in the nearby city of Birmingham and documented the ongoing issue of gang crime in the form of a musical. There was even a song about baby mothers. She hopes to continue exercising her acting chops in the future and is expected to appear in a new film this year.
Her big break came in 2011, when she covered Chris Brown and Busta Rhymes’ popular song “Look At Me Now” on YouTube. Her version parodied the lyrics syllable by syllable, as she mimicked Busta’s flow, and went viral. Her inspiration for controversial humor came from listening to Eminem, but she also cites Missy Elliott, Lil Wayne and Bob Marley as major influences over her sound. Her music blends Hip Hop, house, dancehall and pop and she strives to constantly evolve her production skills. This has allowed her to work with some of the best UK rappers and producers in the game. In the same year, she created her own label Gutter Strut Recordings disappointed by the marketing tactics of major labels she’d been approached by. Record labels were impressed by the online buzz she had generated with her YouTube videos, but wanted to change her image and sound.
The 23-year-old singer turned rapper has a strong regional identity and doesn’t conform to the status quo of the London sound. She wants the UK to start embracing female rap talent and feels that the global attention the grime scene is getting is based on the quality of the music, rather than the American co-sign from Kanye West at last year’s Brit Awards. Her Shurrporters will be pleased to know that they will soon be able to cop the ‘Queen’ branded crop tops she wears in her videos from her clothing line Friggin L, which she started in 2011 and named after one of her previous mixtapes. Her first studio album is also in the works, which will incorporate her dancing and acting abilities and even some peculiar alter egos. Stay tuned.
Your “Queen’s Speech” episodes made you a viral sensation worldwide. What inspired that series?
I just wanted to bring fun back to music. I took a step back and realized that the comedy element was missing. I want to make people smile when they listen to my music and be able to relate to it by adding in relevant topics.
Growing up in the West Midlands, was there a pressure to conform to the popular London sound?
Not really. I think that my accent and the fact that I am not from London helps make me unique. It is good to be different sometimes.
What local artists influenced you to rap?
I have always looked up to Ms Dynamite. She opened the door for us females and she is also a really nice person.
In previous interviews you mentioned turning down a recording contract with Atlantic Records because they wanted to pit you against Nicki Minaj. How important is female solidarity to you in the music industry and with female rappers in particular?
Female solidarity is very important. We need to support [each other] and grow together to achieve so much more.
You recently took part in a short film about John Hammond and the link between music and social protest. How important is the social commentary factor in your lyrics?
Music is powerful. If I can spread positive messages and try to make a change for the better, I want to do it. That is why John Hammond was so inspirational. Music had no color to him; it was about how it made you feel.
You were quoted as saying that Simon Cowell needs to recruit a rapper as a judge on The X Factor. Is reality TV something you are interested in getting into?
Really? Did I say that? Television is definitely something I am interested in. I just need to take one step at a time.
What does the rest of 2016 hold for Lady Leshurr?
World domination! (Laughs). Honestly, I just want to be the best version of me, complete an album, get into film and TV and live.