I recently spoke to Resuer about hip hop and falling for rappers. Check out at extract of the interview below and read the full interview here.
A life in hip hop, hailing from North London, Lily is renowned for breaking US & UK acts into the scene through her self-funded hip hop magazine Viper http://vipermag.com/ as well as her Apple Beats1 Radio show & The Lily Mercer Show on Rinse FM. Lily has interviewed the most important names in hip hop scene such as Mary J. Blige, Nas, Pete Rock, Pitbull, Raekwon, Just Blaze, Swizz Beats, Cypress Hill. She has been very important in making hip hop a more mainstream genre. Dynamic and self made, we’ve seen her in many campaigns for Adidas, G-Shock and Puma and DJ’ing for the likes of Google, Adidas, Baby-G, etc.
After already being the talk of the music and fashion scene is quickly becoming the talk of London town, London’s new ‘It Girl’…
Q. Hi Lily! Thank you for being our guest, today. We spent quite a lot of words clarifying the origin of hip hop music and culture, from the mid 70s to the 90s… let’s now give our readers a few pieces to enjoy. Can you recommend us a list of “must know” songs?
A. Wow, there are a lot over the last four decades! There’s way too many classic songs to list but ‘Juicy’ by Biggie and ‘NY State of Mind’ are some of the more recent classics. ‘Shook Ones’ by Mobb Deep is a Queens classic too. Queensbridge did a lot, Marley Marl is one of my favourite producers of all time, there will never be a time that I hear ‘The Symphony’ by Juice Crew and it doesn’t sound brand new to me.
Obviously ‘Apache’ is the number 1 iconic hip hop song because it kinda birthed the scene and was super significant for the breakdancers.
I also love Kool Herc’s ‘Let Me Clear My Throat’. Even though I was young when that song came out, it’s been referenced a lot throughout the 2000 era that I grew up on. Hip hop is a collage of musical genres and as a fan it’s important to know that the “Roof is on fire” refrain was used a long time before Nelly came on the scene!
Q. What about today’s scene? What’s hip pop today? Are US still the home of hip hop music?
A. Today’s scene is really exciting to me, although I do feel that there’s less longevity for an artist releasing music today. There’s also 10 times more rappers today so the competition is crazy! But the Internet has made it possible to get recognition even if you’re just releasing music from your bedroom. The industry side has changed a lot so record deals and million dollar advances aren’t handed out the way they were in rap’s golden era, but I think the post-2000 era of excess saw the financial side of rap peak. Nowadays an artist can have more long-term success independently.
The US will always be the home of rap, that’s where it all began! But I think that non-US artists have the opportunity to be taken more seriously these days. There’s also a great deal of crossover between US and UK artists which has given the London scene a bit of a boost.
Q. We see so many rappers, many of them similar one another, is there someone who is really setting the pace?
A. It’s definitely an over-saturated scene at the moment but not every artist has that star quality. At the moment, G Herbo aka Lil Herb stands out to me because he’s releasing tons of music and all of it sounds good. He’s part of Chicago’s drill scene but has some really conscious, reflective lyrics and reminds me of a young DMX.
Another guy that stands out is Natia from Inglewood, he hasn’t got a big following yet but when I found him, I was so mad that I hadn’t heard of him before, he’s that good. His lyrics are more intricate than most rappers today and as a writer, I appreciate how he plays with words.
Once his profile rises, I think he’ll set the pace for many rappers that follow.
Q. What’s the direction hip hop is heading to?
A. It’s heading in an interesting direction, over the last couple of years I’ve noticed a lot more spirituality creep in via artists like Pro Era, Flatbush Zombies and Chance the Rapper. There’s been a kinda seventies vibe as a result but at the same time, the political climate in America is inspiring a more aggressive, revolutionary sound. Hip hop acts as a mirror reflecting youth culture at that moment and I think that with the rise of documented police brutality in America, rap music is the only voice for young people that can be understood by all. Activists like Malcolm London are important but for those that aren’t looking to wise young men like him for guidance, it’s going to be the popular rappers that lament youth issues through music. This is why we’re so lucky to have Kendrick Lamar in our lives.
I’m biased but I think my Rinse FM show is a great place to discover new rap artists, the show is super underground but 2 years ago I was playing songs by Chance the Rapper and Vic Mensa who have since gone on to do big things, they’ve collaborated with Justin Bieber and Kanye West respectively. Outside of my show, I find blogs like NahRight and 2DopeBoyz still cover all bases and Illroots is good for the more hype, party tunes and less backpack sounding rap music. Also for anyone following what’s happening in Chicago, Andrew Barber’s blog FakeShoreDrive is the one.
Continue reading the full interview here.