Photo Credit: Natasha Gerschon
From a relative’s musical taste to nights spent in the basement in front of the TV, Lex Leosis has a long history with the world of hip hop. We talked about which emcee actually pushed her to pick up the pen, LGBTQ+ representation and acceptance in the genre, and more like her 2021 album, ‘Terracotta.’
Kendra: Like with every genre, there are so many variations within the realm of hip hop. For you, was there a particular style or artist that you initially connected to that made you want to pursue a career as a Hip Hop artist?
Lex Leosis: I always credit “Check the Rhime” by A Tribe Called Quest as my first rap song. I remember my older cousin playing it for me outside, and being in love with Hip Hop from that point forward.
The first artist that made me want to rhyme though? Lupe Fiasco. I remember the moment like it was yesterday…MTV or Much Music used to play music videos back to back at night and I used to sit in front of our small TV in our cold, concrete basement and just soak everything in. I would be down there for hours. I had seen “Kick Push,” but when “Daydreamin’” dropped…I knew I wanted to pick up a pen. To this day, there aren’t many artists that could match his pen in my eyes.
Kendra: Speaking of Hip Hop as a whole, there was a study some years ago that noted just how influential Hip Hop is as a whole. From fashion to our vernacular, we as a society are so impacted by it. With that, do you feel if the heavy hitters in Hip Hop were more open to the LGBTQ+ community, we could see even more of a shift in overall acceptance because while we’re in a better place than we were even say, 20 years ago – I feel as a whole…the world still has major work to do.
Lex Leosis: Hip Hop is one of the most influential cultures in the whole world and has historically led the charge in change and has always been a home for expression. I think it’s unfair to just put this on Hip Hop though, I will shift to saying that the music industry as a whole has a lot of work to do in openly supporting Queer communities. Representation matters and I do see more representation every year; Kehlani, Lil Nas X, Tyler, Frank Ocean come to mind. It feels good to see and hear these artists topping the charts.
Kendra: Now let’s talk about this single, “Won’t Wait.” From the press of play, it had me moving and then once you came in I was like, yes! This is a song I think everyone is going to hear and think of either a current relationship situation or one from their past. So was this inspired by a more personal or universal perspective?
Lex Leosis: Thank you! I’m happy people connected to the story because it was absolutely inspired by a romance I was experiencing at the time I wrote it. All my music is really personal. It’s important to me that my music is a reflection of my life and experiences. I want to have something to offer as I take up space in this culture and industry. This song was incredibly vulnerable and confident at the same time. I wrote all my feelings in a way that felt confident and that demanded respect. You know when you have a vulnerable conversation with someone you love and you don’t always get to say the things you wanted to say (or perhaps you wanted to say the same things, but differently)….yeah that was this song. All the things I wanted to say, in the way I wanted to say it.
Kendra: You’ve noted how this song, and your music – you want it to empower women to voice their needs. Other than in relationships, what aspects of life have you taken your own advice and spoken up more recently, and have you noticed it working in your favor more when you do so?
Lex Leosis: That’s a great question! Lately, I’ve been saying “no” more often. I can’t speak for women as a whole, but I recognize in myself, and the women around me, that we take on a lot. Whether it’s emotional labour, favours, going above and beyond…my plate is constantly full. I’ve been slowing down more. Making sure I have time to spend with my loved ones and by myself. Self-care….all that. It’s definitely been making me more present in my relationships and with myself.
Kendra: So the world will feel empowered when ‘Terracotta’ drops on July 9th. There is a lot of plant life going on with this release, so I have to ask – if you had to compare ‘Terracotta’ to a type of plant, which would it be and why?
Lex Leosis: This may just be my favourite interview question of all time – thank you! Terracotta is a succulent…perhaps an Aloe Vera. I have Aloe plants all over my room and they have definitely inspired this album. I heard the Egyptians used to refer to this plant as the “plant of immortality” because of its healing properties. Terracotta is healing. I hope through my honesty and writing about finding myself that these stories resonate and heal others. It’s nice to feel like you aren’t alone in a feeling or a healing process.
Kendra: Over the last year or so most of us lived online because it’s kind of all we could do. We took to the likes of Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok, and beyond. Which, you are a Tik Tok Rap Battle Champ. In my head, that’s the 21st-century version of the Freestyle Fridays that they used to have on BET’s 106 & Park. Was that something you watched growing up at all?
Lex Leosis: Absolutely – ‘106 & Park’ was everything. AJ and Free days! I was always enamored with artists expressing their passions. Whether that was freestyles, live performances, dance battles, cyphers, murals…It’s so inspiring to watch artists in their elements. The energy you feel when someone loves what they do is unmatched. It’s obviously better in person, but in times like this, I’m thankful for the power of the internet.
Kendra: Lastly, it’s getting a little easier with the vaccine rollouts, but it’s still kind of hard to have a definite answer when it comes to future plans given the current state of everything, but as far as what you can control when it comes to your career and creativity – what do you have planned in the coming months for yourself?
Lex Leosis: I’m about to release the best project of my life…so that feels good. I put so much into this body of work. It feels like a giant level-up. I’m looking forward to getting back to live performances in the fall (announcements soon!) and releasing more music, videos, and live sets. I’ll keep up on my Tik Tok freestyles of course. Looking forward to diving deeper into music theory and playing piano, bass, and MPD too!