Approved 2016: Lady Leshurr
By Andy Malt | Published on Tuesday 13 December 2016
Every day this week in the CMU Approved slot, we’ll be looking at one of our five favourite artists of 2016. Today Lady Leshurr.
Lady Leshurr’s rise to prominence began in 2015 and quickly gathered rapid pace, but 2016 felt like the year she really cemented her position. Now signed to Sony’s RCA, and working with the likes of Deputy, Bangladesh and Timbaland on her debut album, Leshurr’s success has been very much achieved on her own terms.
It’s worth remembering that Leshurr had already been a hotly-tipped new act once before, been offered a life-changing amount of money by a major label, refused it, and then seen her career crumble around her. This comeback is not just an impressive turnaround, but it has also allowed her to capitalise on learning from her mistakes.
“They flew me out [to the US] and we had a conversation, but their idea was that they were going to pit me against Nicki Minaj”, she told The Guardian of her previous major label experience in 2013. “It was like: ‘She’s the biggest female MC and you need to take her down’, and I wasn’t feeling that at all. That whole stereotype of female rappers and their supporters having to compete with each other – it seems to be a crime to be a fan of two female rappers that are successful. So I turned it down”.
A couple of years later, she decided to start again from scratch “as a brand new artist”, which led to the first in her series of ‘Queen’s Speech’ freestyles.
“I planned, and then I met up with this video camera guy”, she told BBC Raw earlier this year. “We shot the first ‘Queen’s Speech’, then I went home, I put it on my computer and I uploaded [it to YouTube], but I kept it on private because I was scared. I was just like, I don’t know if people are gonna like this – the new Leshurr. I was petrified. But I thought, you know what, you’re never gonna know until you do it”.
It paid off. The first five episodes of the series took her to the end of 2015, and have gone on to build up views in the multi-millions, ensuring that she was in high demand throughout 2016. As well as tours, TV and radio performances, and jetting out to the US to record, she released ‘Where Are You Now?’ with Wiley and the cutting ‘Unleshed’.
Come October, she was back with a new instalment of ‘Queen’s Speech’, another reminder of her quick wit, sharp lyrics and amazing skill. She’d probably be the first to warn against jumping the gun, but 2017 is looking good for Leshurr too.
Watch the video for ‘Queen’s Speech Episode 6’ here:
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