It’s time to make room for another rap queen. UK rapper Lady Leshurr, pronounced “Lesha,” has been making moves and getting laughs lately. Known for her “Queen Speech” series on YouTube, Leshurr is perfecting what she calls “comedy rap” and “hip hop humor” with her fast pop culture references.
Her one-shot music video for “Queen’s Speech 4,” also known as the “Brush Your Teeth” song, has hit over 15 million YouTube views. And it’s pretty hilarious, with lines like:
“Some girls wake up and don’t even brush their teeth”;
“You’ve got a pot belly like Rick Ross”;
“Don’t think you’re buff ‘cause you’re wearing contour/’Cause I’ll wipe your brows off”; and
“I got a dark-skin friend that looks like Rachel Dolezal/And I got a light-skin friend that looks like Rachel Dolezal/Which one’s which? Not sure.”
Leshurr is funny, but she’s no joke. The song was even featured in a Samsung Galaxy commercial this fall. This Christmas, she released another hit, “Queen’s Speech 5.” This one references even fresher material: Adele’s “Hello,” DJ Khaled’s Snapchat game and the 2015 Miss Universe Steve Harvey incident.
Now Leshurr is enjoying the perks of success—even her idols have shared the video—and working towards more. “The people that I grew up listening to are actually recognizing me now,” Lesh tells us. “It’s just amazing. It’s a big achievement for me.”
Before her “Queen’s Speech” series, Lesh was already making waves online. Once upon a time, she impressed the internet when she killed it on Busta Rhymes’ verse in a cover of “Look at Me Now” by Chris Brown.
I don’t really care about any negativity. Those people just inspire me to write the next lyric anyway.
And what do the haters say? “Some people will say I’m a gimmick and stuff, some people will say I’m not good or whatever, but I’m so comfortable in what I’m doing,” Lesh says. “I don’t really care about any negativity. Those people just inspire me to write the next lyric anyway. Some people might think I’m dissing people but it’s not that I’m dissing people, it’s just I can relate to people that might not voice their opinion and I am that person for them.”
While her lyrics are combative, battle rap isn’t really her thing. Leshurr is commonly compared to Nicki Minaj, a comparison that is mostly based on bad math. Gender + skin color + genre = identical artist? In 2013, Lady Leshurr told The Guardian that she turned down a deal with Atlantic Records in the US because they tried to pit her against Minaj. Lesh has said that, as a Nicki admirer, it would be a suicide mission. She’s looking for longevity in her career, not battle records.
“It pushes the gaps between us. Girl rappers are afraid to work together because we get fixed in these imaginary competitions,” she told The Guardian. “The industry just doesn’t know what to do with women.”
We’re glad the female rap battle didn’t happen, because Leshurr often remixes Nicki songs like “Truffle Butter” and “Feeling Myself.” The lady is her own thing entirely, though. She says it best in her verse for “Feeling Myself,” singing, “I’m really myself, really myself/If I need help then I’m bringing myself, I’m bringing myself.”
While she certainly inspires women, it’s not necessarily the focus in her music.
“The lyric side for me isn’t necessarily where I’m empowering women. It’s not about telling anyone you should do this or you should do that,” Lesh says. “I’m just doing what I want to do and having fun and let other people who are listening to me have fun as well.”
“From where I’ve been to now, it’s been a struggle and a journey and I always try to explain that to people,” She tells us. “I used to be broke; I never had anything. I kept on doing what I was doing and it got to where well, a majority of people know who I am. That in itself is inspiration to empower women.”
I used to be broke; I never had anything. I kept on doing what I was doing and it got to where well, a majority of people know who I am. That in itself is inspiration to empower women.
We asked her what she looks for in a collaboration. “Control,” she told us. “For me to go to any record label and them say, ‘You have to do this, or you have to do that’. I built my own machine. For me to go in and them want to change that…it wouldn’t make much sense.”
“I’ve got to always be there when it comes to the beat being made, I know exactly how I want the beat to be,” Lesh says. “The reason why that is is because I wrote it the the way I want the beat to be. So when I’m writing my ‘Queen’s Speech’ there’s no beat, it’s just me writing to silence.”
“Then I create the beat after I do that, and then I’ll go into the studio and I’ll go produce it exactly how I want the beat,” she continues. “Then when it comes to recording the video, I tell the video guy exactly how I want to shoot and the certain things I want to pop up on the screen. So I think the reason why it looks so good, is because I know exactly how I want it to be and I know what the audience wants it to be as well. So that’s the process. I have to be involved in it.”
With the rise of UK’s grime music in the US, thanks to artists like Skepta and JME, it’s easy to throw Lesh in the same mix. In fact, her name is one of a handful to come up in a search for female grime rappers. She politely disagrees when we ask her about grime. “I would say I’m quite versatile,” she says. “A lot of genres inspire what I do and what I say.”
Of her style she says: “It’s very quirky, it’s like what Eminem used to do. I felt like that’s what was missing in the scene. I wanted to experiment and see if I could bring that back and balance the lyrics and the personality with the visuals. It has worked, so that’s my personal style. I’ve always wanted to do that, but I’ve been afraid to come out of my shell and be confident enough to do it. Now I’ve done it and I feel like this is my lane, this is my direction, my style, and it’s working.”
I’ve been afraid to come out of my shell and be confident enough to do it. Now I’ve done it and I feel like this is my lane, this is my direction, my style, and it’s working
Although rappers like Eminem convinced her to start rapping, she’s not really listening to music to get inspiration. “I try to not watch so much of what everyone else is doing, because I’ll subconsciously have it in my head that I’ll need to be doing what they’re doing,” Lesh says.
Leshurr was nominated for a UK-based Music of Black Origin (MOBO) award in October, something she had been planning for. Although she didn’t win, she has a lot more ahead of her.
“The album, and the EP, and anything that comes after the ‘Queen Speech’ is going to show my other side, my alter ego,” Lesh says. “It’s going to be more empowering and more positive. I’ve got a lot of messages saying you should talk to this, you should talk about that. And I always listen to my supporters.” Don’t miss the queen when she cements her US kingdom.