After causing a storm with the music video for latest track I Love My Butt, Lady Lykez sits down to chat to SB.TV about embracing her derriere, owning north London and backing Miley Cyrus…
Tell us a bit about I Love My Butt, which I figured is basically a big F You to the various pressures women are under to look a certain way. How did the track come about?
I woke up one morning, I turned around, looked in the mirror and I realised that I had something behind me and I couldn’t quite reach it [laughs] no I’m joking! I’ve always known that I had a curvy shape and that I had a big butt, so to speak and so originally it was a really light-hearted song. I’d always wanted to do a song like that because everyone was always commenting on my butt and so I wanted to embrace it. I realised there are a lot of pressures in society for girls to look a certain way, and I feel like all women should embrace their shape. You’ve got what you got, work it, flaunt it, and use it. It’s not just for girls with big butts, if you haven’t got a butt – love yourself, love your shape.
Some of the comments under the video on YouTube are interesting. Have you had a look at them?
First off I didn’t expect to get such a massive response, and I am really happy about it. Secondly, the comments really highlighted that there is an actual issue with body image and why so many girls are feeling a certain way about their weight. If I was more insecure about myself I would have probably felt depressed, but the comments were like…ridiculous. I was reading down and I could see conversations with people going at it and fighting each other. It’s a big, big topic.
The entertainment industry is glossed up, they are selling it to you so that you will buy into it and invest in them. There’s a lot of photo-shopping, a lot of airbrushing and a lot of make-up. I don’t want these young people to be thinking ‘I need to look like this, and if I don’t look like this then I’m not worth it’ or whatever.
I read a piece that placed you on the UK Hip Hop circuit years ago at various community centres around north London battling fellow rapper Chip. Take us there…
Chip is a really cool guy. This was time ago, like back in my school days – I used to love battling, I used to love clashing it was one of my first loves. Before I even started writing songs, I was a rap battler…even to this day I am very competitive, I am very on it. Chip was doing his music back then as well and we always used to go head to head, I don’t know if he remembers – I would love to talk to him about this – and because obviously I was a girl we always used to say to each other “I’m better than you, no I’m better than YOU.” It was proper competitive, he’s a Scorpio and I’m a Scorpio so it was like [Growls] those school days were a lot of fun, I remember once we clashed outside of school…
I will always say I won – straight up – and obviously he will say he won. It was all fun and games.
If he walked in right now, do you think you could take him on?
I’d tell him I won back then. I’d tell him ‘bring it on’ [laughs]
As a female MC coming up you went out there full on, all guns blazing. Do you feel you intimidated the boys?
Definitely, I’m surprised I didn’t get into any confrontations or anything like that. When I was younger I was worse than I am now. When you get older you know how to say ‘alright allow it’, back then I was just reckless with it and would just say anything that I wanted to say to win. I just wanted to win, you know when you’re passionate and hungry? I killed SO many guys in north London!
I just used to go up to them and say “do you rap?” and they would be like “yeah.” Then I’d say, “let’s clash.” That’s all I used to do and I loved it… I got a lot of respect from it as well.
In 2013, do you feel there is still this struggle for female MC’s to seen in the same light as their male counterparts?
I think it’s got a lot better, because there have been quite a few female artists coming through, killing it and making an impact – and I think that they can’t ignore it anymore. There’s like a group of us and there is strength in numbers, and so I think they now have to respect us more. You just have to be on top of your game, I’d say that to any female artist coming up. I’d say that to any woman involved with any kind of business that has a male dominated energy – you just have to be the best. You have to be better, make sure that no one can tell you anything.
I’m telling you now and I am not saying any names but if I were to rap like some of these guys – that are actually big – if I were to rap like that I would be classed as wack. People would say ‘Lykez you are dead’ – but that’s why I just got to make sure I’m on top of my game.
With this fairly recent, large influx of female MC’s stepping into the limelight, generating buzz, going hard in front of packed audiences and selling units on both sides of the pond, do you give the credit to Nicki Minaj?
Na…you know what? All respect to Nicki Minaj because I felt like we needed another female MC and she filled that spot and I think the spot was open, the spot was open for ages and she took it. So big up to Nicki Minaj, I think she is talented and I love her music – but like I said I feel like it’s strength in numbers as well. I don’t think it’s all down to Nicki Minaj but she does have a part to play – she made impact and so now people are saying ‘oh, so there are female MC’s out there’ when really we were out there all along, people just didn’t want to look for us.
With the work you do going into schools and talking to kids with the organisation Only Connect, it must seem like a world away from the music business, the PR and the press. I imagine that that work grounds you, brings you back to real life, balances you out – tell us about that work, and how it affects you…
It’s so good. I think the reason Only Connect is so great as an organization is that they take on people that have been through things. I think young people need to see people who have really been through things to understand it. You know there are all these youth workers and people that talk positive to young people? They are not going to listen to you if they don’t feel like you know anything. I’ve had so many messages from girls, on my Facebook saying “you changed my life today Lykez,” or “you make me feel like I wanna be something.” I’m from the ends, I’ve been through certain things and I talk to them about stuff that I’ve been through and I can relate to them. It’s really positive, and I’m giving something back.
You tweeted the other day, “I love all types of music and you’d be surprised what I listen to sometimes” – so surprise us, what do you listen to?
I love old school Ike and Tina, I love a lot of Blues – like Aretha Franklin, the old school stuff. I am a big Soul fan, I actually listen to more Soul/R’n’B than I do Hip Hop. It’s really weird, if you were to go on my phone – I don’t really listen to Hip Hop. One of my favourite albums of all time isLauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. I love a bit of Floetry, I love it – I’m into all of that.
Musically what is the landscape looking like going forward? Will there be another EP, will you be putting an album together?
I think next year I am looking to possibly put an album out, I’m an independent artist and so I have been strategizing stuff and looking at how things are going. I’ve got a lot of singles and I am prepared. I’m gonna drop a few singles one after the other and see where things go. I really want people to get to know who Lady Lykez and so next year you’ll possibly see some collaborations – but for now I am biding my time.
I didn’t think you’d be a fan of everyone’s favourite twerking Disney princess Miley Cyrus. I didn’t think you’d like all that…
Miley is funny man!
I can’t deny, I’ve been listening to We Can’t Stop all f***ing day…
It’s a tune! I feel like it’s so her, it’s so fun. I tweeted “I would love to party with Miley Cyrus.” She’s young, she’s twenty – I feel like the media are so hard. She’s bloody twenty years old, leave her alone and let her do her thing! Same thing with Rihanna, she’s a young woman with so much money let her have fun – I would probably be doing the same thing! I feel as an artist, especially when you become that big it can get very lonely. If you don’t have fun – what are you doing it for? Leave Miley alone, let her twerk all over the stage…