UKHH caught up with Middlesbrough rapper Leddie MC to discuss her new album Raise a Glass, conquering life challenges and repping the North East.
First of all, congrats on dropping the new album! What was the process by which the tracks came about?
Thank you. Alex Bailey sent over a few beats and I just wrote to the ones that inspired me most. I never set out to touch upon certain topics or subjects on a lot of them, the beat just kind of set the tone for me. I recorded a few of the track vocals over a bare drum beat and Alex built a track around my vocals too, so I kind of gave him a lot of room to be creative as well.
You’re one of the few emcees spitting with a real North East dialect. Do you think there’s more room in the scene for regional voices now?
Absolutely. I think there has to be… There’s a lot more acceptance now than there used to be. I get that accents can turn people off if they aren’t used to it, but at the same time, to represent hip hop, I believe you need to listen to a broader spectrum rather than just hip hop within London. It’s poetry, regardless. I get that some people really dislike North East accents, but to me, it seems like we are really breaking into our own after idolising people from the opposite side of the country for so long, and I think its time we are heard.
I feel like the first time, it was cut short because nobody realised their own potential, now I feel like we know we can achieve so much more
2018 has been a pretty big year for you (both personally and professionally). How have the events of the past year shaped your approach to future recordings?
I’ve always kind of took the same approach to recording, and I’ve always kind of kept to the same homely environment. I don’t like the typical professional studio setting. It seems too pressured to me. Now I own my own home I’m enjoying building a little corner that I can switch off in and really get down to being creative.
How has the local scene changed since you dropped your first EP back in 2015?
To be honest, In a sense, It hasn’t really changed much… Its grown since, and has lots of new faces coming but its still the same old… Same old locals beefs pop up, same cliques, same nights are coming back around for the second time, but its really starting to grow and has a bigger local audience now. I feel like the first time, it was cut short because nobody realised their own potential, now I feel like we know we can achieve so much more, and we’re really going for it. I feel like we used the first run as a test and it had to die down to find out where we had gone wrong in order to give it a decent second shot.
The North East has a rich cultural heritage, but it’s still underrepresented when it comes to hip hop. Did that influence your approach to rhyming or the subject matter of your songs?
I feel like we’ve always been given the shitty end of the stick… We’ve always been the underdog, whether it’s sport, politics, music, etc. and it has definitely inspired me to keep going when I wanted to quit. It has definitely influenced me, one way or another.
I want my music to evoke emotion, and I believe that musicality plays a huge part in that.
What with the country going to shit, what’s your thoughts on the future of the arts in deprived areas?
I think the country going to shit will bring out the best in the arts, we will use what we have and do what we can, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. I think we will just become a lot more self-sufficient and learn to do things ourselves, from recording to making beats to music videos, artwork etc… I think the best thing we can do is to try and learn as much as we can and use it to the best of our ability.
The new album has a broader range of styles on it than your debut. Was that a conscious effort, or just a result of your own changing musical tastes?
I had an epiphany one day. I don’t want to rap over a 4 bar beat, I don’t want to be stuck in a box, I don’t want to be scared of making good music because I’m scared of not being seen as “Hip Hop” anymore. I believed purists for so long that I didn’t want to make music anymore because I wanted to grow but felt like I couldn’t. I want my music to evoke emotion, and I believe that musicality plays a huge part in that. I wanted to remain technical but I want to make great songs too. My taste slightly changed, and I became more aware of pop music and how it’s used, and I’ve tried to learn more about songwriting too.
I get days where I think – fuck this… Then I’ll wake up the next morning and I’ll write something that blows my own mind and be buzzing all over again.
Despite the battles you’ve fought in the past few years, Raise a Glass has a kind of hopeful optimism. Is that a reflection of your own outlook, or are you trying to convince yourself as much as the listener?
I use my music to make sense of my life, it’s like therapy for me. I guess after you’ve hit rock bottom and kind of felt like you want to die, the only way is up. I get days where I think – fuck this, I’m wasting my time, I quit… Then I’ll wake up the next morning and will feel creative, I’ll write something that blows my own mind and be buzzing all over again. It’s really odd!
What are your plans for the future? Any new projects or tours in the pipeline?
I’ve already started on whatever I’m planning next. It may be an EP, it may be an album, I’m not sure yet… I’m hoping to have this one released by a label but time will tell, I guess… In the meantime, I’ll be hitting up shows and I hope to plan a few videos (I’ve slacked with them on this album!)
Check out Leddie MC’s new album Raise a Glass here.