Video

Lady Leshurr Is One of the Best Grime MCs Out Right Now

The UK MC is back with another installment of her "Queen's Speech" series.

Lady Leshurr is one of the best MCs in the UK today.


Each new release in her "Queen Speech" series reaffirms her many gifts, and the seventh edition is no different.

Leshurr's special knack is for clever battle rhymes that cut deep and are delivered with bite and precision. Where other rappers would space out their best punchlines over long verses, damn near every line by Leshurr is packed with a form of wordplay. See lines like "Side note bar, your girlfriend looks like Sideshow Bob / this might sound harsh by you ain't wavy your eyebrows are (filter girl dem)."

True, cruel and funny jokes are made at the expense of big name stars like Usher and R. Kelly but also anonymous Instagram posers "Certain girls only clean their house when their man come around / holding money in your pictures when you can't give your mum 10 pounds."

Leshurr's team of dancers and DJ are all women. For the video for "Queen's Speech Ep. 7" she reportedly hired an all-female production for the entire shoot, an approach she admits to learning from Beyoncé.

Concerned with more than just battle rhymes, Lesshurr also criticizes the government's poor handling of the Grenfell fires which cost 70 lives, taking a direct aim at the prime minister "who stood up when Gren-fell / where's all the money we raised then / Theresa May is a waste man."

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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