Lady London is a Boss: New Jersey via Bronx rapper and renaissance woman Lady London refers to herself online as the “Aristotle of Bravado.” That’s a bold statement, and there’s a lot to unpack there. Aristotle was, of course, a famed Greek philosopher, and a pioneer in a variety of scientific fields. In many respects, he led the way. Lady London claims to take those many and complicated attributes, and direct them toward bravado. Which is, in and of itself, an act of bravado. You’ve got to love that confidence.
That same confidence oozes throughout her new project Lady Like: The Boss Tape. It’s a body of work that fully encompasses what she’s about, and what she’s been about since getting started in the biz three years ago.
“I started in March of 2018 with my rap career,” London says. “Prior to that, I was a poet from when I was maybe 11 years old. I started with one viral video, which actually that same music in that video is the first track on my Boss Tape that’s coming out tomorrow.”
The move from poetry into hip-hop (and vice versa) isn’t an uncommon one. There are certainly similarities between the two art forms. Lady London’s move was slightly haphazard though.
“Weirdly enough, I was in school for medicine and I had no intentions of doing any kind of music, but the poem landed on a social media craze and I missed a lot of fans from that so I started to try to rap afterwards,” she says. “To collate the two, hip-hop and poetry.”
The artist describes her sound as “all-encompassing.” She’s essentially at the start of a hip-hop career and there’s really no reason to box herself in yet, to get bogged down with sub-genre tags.
“I think it takes you through every emotion possible,” she says. “I think the sound is somehow monotone, but there’s a melodic element to it as well. It’s hard to describe. It’s different – it’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard.”
We ask Lady London about her stage name, hoping for a cool story about English family history or a love for British grime artists like Dizzee Rascal and Stormzy. No such luck.
“I wish there was a cool story beyond it, but it’s not so much,” she says. “The name London came from [model and actress] Lauren London. People used to say we looked a lot alike when I was in high school, so I had that as my Instagram name and then as I transitioned into music, it just stuck with me. So it was never really my chosen rap name, it was just my Instagram name and that went into my career with me.”
Lady London was born in the Bronx but moved a few miles to Jersey with her grandmother when she was a child.
“My grandmother used to have a house in the Bronx, and she bought a house in New Jersey, so I’ve basically always been wherever my grandmother was,” she says. “My grandma and my mom raised me, and I’ve always lived between the same 15-20 mile radius my whole life, in the same area.”
Through the experience of her cross-state border living, she says that the Jersey and New York hip-hop scenes are almost exactly alike.
“The hip-hop scene was born in the East Coast period,” she says. “I think we have, especially in the northeast region, we have a dominance over it as a whole. That’s not only the Tri-State, that’s D.C., and Maryland and Virginia. It’s all-engulfing for me.”
Her debut release, Lady Like: The Boss Tape, just dropped and it’s a tour de force of incisive hip-hop, with the rapper in full artistic control.
“It was literally all me,” she says. “I recorded and arranged it myself; I recorded in North Hollywood. I tracked and engineered most of it, then I sent it out to a mastering engineer to finish it. It was incredible. It took from July to now to finish. I probably finished up technically at the end of December, so from July to December, I worked on it vehemently.”
True to her DIY work ethic, London learned to engineer out of necessity.
“I pretty much know how to engineer, from pretty early in my career when I couldn’t afford an engineer to be in a studio with me,” she says. “I learned the trade myself.”
She says that there are no overarching themes or concepts on the record, as she attempts to touch every base.
“It’s very versatile,” she says. “I wanted everyone to be able to take something from the tape. There’s a mix of emotion, and a mix of heartbreak and trauma, of storytelling and lyricism. So I think it embodies everything that a hip-hop project should have.”
Obviously, she’s been working on the project during a global pandemic and she says that hasn’t been without its challenges.
“I guess it affected it in the sense that COVID measures were being taken in most studios, so it was hard to get studio time in that space with everybody wanting to record there with nothing else to do,” she says. “But I think that the pandemic was beneficial in the sense that people’s attention span expanded. So people that usually did eight seconds of listening time expanded up to 17 seconds now. So it gave people with my lean a little bit more wiggle room to really expose my art form and have it ingested the right way by the consumers.”
She’s also delighted that female MCs are receiving overdue recognition right now.
“It’s been a long time coming, because we haven’t seen this wave since the Latifahs, MC Lytes and Monie Loves of the world were out,” she says. “So it’s dope to see it resurfacing again and I hope that we can keep the quality of music going.”
Looking ahead, Lady London is planning on spending 2022 building her brand.
“A mogul in every way,” she says. “So getting more into acting, fashion, branding, movies, soundtracks and things like that.”
We wish her luck.
Lady London is a Boss: Lady London’s Lady Like: The Boss Tape is out now.
Lady London is a Boss