This past weekend, Houston’s Lyric Michelle graduated with another college degree, declaring on social media that this would be her last time going back to school “for now.” From the ceremony, she posted the most epic photo of her class, revealing her gorgeous toothy grin. As she stood in her graduation cap and gown with her parents sandwiched between her, her mom and dad’s facial expressions were as if they just heard the most unfortunate news. Her photo caption said it all: “When your parents happy you graduated but mad you joined the rap game… but you smiling ‘cuz you headed to the studio after the ceremony.”

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The energy captured in that atypical graduation photo is reflective of who Lyric Michelle is as a musician. She’s eager and excited to see where her music takes her next, even if the majors written in calligraphy on her college degrees may not be reflective of that. A singer and emcee who has followed her own path with confidence, Lyric Michelle drew inspiration from her local music scene from an early age, enamored by the lyrical skill her favorite spitters displayed.

Earlier this year, Lyric returned to SXSW, this time bringing along her live band, and has been getting back into the studio now that her studies are out of the way. Amongst the madness that is balancing school, work and music, the ever-ambitious rapper took some time to talk more about her creative process and how she is finding her stride.

Advertisement How was your time at SXSW this year?
Lyric Michelle: I had a lot of shows this year at SXSW so that was really great. I got to bring my whole band along also, which I haven’t been able to do in the past, so that was awesome.

What was it like having your band with you? Awesome, I presume?
Yeah absolutely! So happy about it. With a house DJ, they usually have no idea what I’m doing or who I am. Or, if they know who I am, they might not know what I have planned and as a result, I may be looking around during my set and hoping that they remember what I said in the email before the show. Whereas with the band and my own DJ, they pick up on what I am thinking in regards to each track and where I want the performance to go, so I feel more at home and much more comfortable. Working with a live band allows the performance to be organic. I love that aspect of performing.

How did you get started?
When I was coming up, I was doing this thing called Kickback Sundays, which was an open mic. That was the underbelly of what I wanted to do and I was heavily influenced by the OGs in the city. Their lyricism taught me a lot and I’m really inspired by the local emcees to make my lyrics more whole.

What do you get excited about when working on new music?
Something usually inspires me, anything really, and then I think about melody next. I’m working with a good friend of mine at the moment, Chris Rockaway. He understands where I’m going, so it’s been a really good partnership.

How did you two connect? More collaboration in your future?
In the beginning, I wrote him off [laughs] but then a month or so went by and I had an idea about something that I’d never done before. It was very specific and I had no idea how to describe it, so I went back to him. He was able to figure out what I meant and we were able to work out our ideas together in a really dope way. I’m really inspired by our creative process and I’m really enjoying working with him. I’m always open to collaboration and I love the idea of people creating together.


Photo by Daniel Jackson