Celebrating female creativity we unveil Lady Leshurr as the first of our covers for BEAT issue 23.
Lady Leshurr is not impressed with my scuffed up creps, and I should have known better than to put them in her eyeline. She laughs, grins and says “It’s alright”, but not only are her Queen’s Speech tracks brimming with one-two jabs aimed at personal choices; from footwear to oral hygiene, her latest edition of this viral rap, dropping after nearly a year’s hiatus, was made in partnership with Nike. “They came to me and I was like, ‘Yeah, why not? That’s near enough what I wear every day!”
Assembling an all-woman crew to support Lady Leshurr’s vision, the video shoot for Queen’s Speech 7 happened a day before our interview, and she’s excited for it to come out: “Everyone knew what it was about, what it was for, and that’s what made it even more forceful and female. We smashed it!”
“It was totally opposite to working with all men, they’re more loud and aggressive and dominant and try to control it. But with females it was a really friendly vibe, everyone was just happy, the energy was good!”
Plus, it was bigger than ever before: “We locked off a motorway: who’s done that in the UK? Who’s got a camel in London just walking on the road? I wanted to do something really crazy, experimental, out of the box!”
Like previous instalments, Queen’s Speech 7 references poor personal hygiene, but like Queen Speech 4’s command to “brush your teeth”, Lady Leshurr bestows viewers with solutions: “I take out my spray and I spray it because I feel like either people don’t bath in the morning, or they forget to just spray. I’ve been on the tube multiple times and you know how arms just hang in the air and you can smell BO?”
Standing at about 5’4, today dressed in a black Nike tracksuit, trying on different pairs of Nike Air Force 1 ’07 SE, I wonder if Lady Leshurr’s stature regularly places her downwind of a musty underarm? “I’m right under the pit! I can smell everything!”
“I always talk about things that I’ve experience, or things that I’ve bound to have experienced, it’s just a connection straight away. People can laugh about it, people can show their friends – even their stinky friends – because I know everyone’s got stinky friends that they can’t tell the truth to.”
Is there anything too gross to talk about in the Queen’s Speech? She diplomatically refuses to say anything out loud even now: “There’s lines that I can’t cross because it’s just like, why would you go that far?”
And so the only censored part of Queen’s Speech 7 is whomsoever’s name fits with: “You ain’t half smelly/ My bars touch the kids like [blanked out]”. On the YouTube lyric notes, Lady Leshurr adds “(I wonder who this is about -___-)”. It’s a shame I don’t get to ask Lady Leshurr directly, but if she’s nearly called out someone as a child abuser, then more power to her.
Because though I can 100% imagine a kid with thirsty breath being taunted by cries of “brush your teeth!”, Lady Leshurr is here for women and their conversations: “As much as people can say ‘Ahhh [the Queen’s Speech raps] are putting down girls’, it’s nothing to do with putting down girls, it’s shining a light on things that girls do and people will know about and can relate to.”
I can also imagine the power a young woman might feel walking in the urban spaces that Queens Speech shows Lady Leshurr strutting down with pride and chutzpah. Ostensibly unsafe for anyone – on roads, under the Woolwich Foot Tunnel and in a car-park – Lady Leshurr, bolshily and playfully brands these spaces accessible to other young women: “It’s true, because the tunnel and certain places I’ve filmed are quite scary. I know for a fact I wouldn’t feel that comfortable if I was on my own walking down there, but in the same sense I wanted to get the point across of just being a powerful female, and that it doesn’t matter what clothes you wear or what you look like. You should never feel uncomfortable walking in a place.”
The Queen’s Speech is shining a light on things that girls do and people will know about and can relate to.
Why did this track take so long to arrive? “There wasn’t really anything to talk about. I just did loads of shows, my life became so busy at one stage I couldn’t even get in the studio, I couldn’t focus on that project. And to write a Queen’s Speech, I just need to be in a happy place.
“And also there wasn’t really a lot of topics to touch on, there wasn’t really enough things to make jokes about and stuff like that.”
But Queens Speech 6, a Halloween-themed number with the refrain “Spooky!” was released less than two weeks before Donald Trump was voted in as US president, and it’s not as if Lady Leshurr is too scared to talk about him, she references him in QS6, calling him a “wasteman”!
“I mean, I just think he was a wasteman, he didn’t do his job, you see all these things online, all these videos coming out of him touching girls in a mad way and I’ve just never liked him. His face is like the devil to me.”
And besides, a lot of the Queen’s Speech 7 had input from her fans. Just days before her shoot she did a call-out on her Instagram for suggested topics: “I just thought I’d see what people would actually want me to say, somebody was like ‘Stay away from politics!’ But a lot of people were just like ‘Oh talk about Grenfell’ or ‘talk about things in the news’. But I kind of keep out of it myself, because it can get too political and I’m not in the know for that much. I’ll do my part, I’ll donate and stuff, but I won’t be on there trying to be like, the new mayor and trying to talk for the youths.”
Little did I know, then, that Lady Leshurr does get political in Queen’s Speech 7: “Who stood up when Grenfell?/ Where’s all the money we raised then?/ Theresa May is a waste man!” before segueing to “Please don’t take no shots at me/ We need more gun control”. Even Brexit gets a shoutout with “Make a bigger impact than Brexit”
All the same, in our interview, she recommends Akala as far more knowledgeable than her, “he’s so wise and he’s got legs to stand on, but a lot of people told me: politics, stay away from it.” Funny, isn’t it, that a female rapper doesn’t even have to once mention politics to be told to steer clear of it by supposed fans, while the huge brand fronting her video’s budget is seemingly happy for her to swing a few punches upward.
The joy is mutual: “This is one of the most epic ones I’ve done. I always said, if I was going to do it again, it had be somewhere where people would think ‘Oh, she’s taking the mick now!’”
The Nike Air Force 1 ’07 collection is now available in women’s sizing on the Nike App, nike.com and at select retailers