Young G’z: Lily Mercer

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Being true to one self is one of life’s hardest challenges, especially in the entertainment business because to do what you want to is to go to war with everyone doing the opposite. Before going into the business one must understand that the entertainment business is a business of compromise. Corporations don’t want the inspiring letters and uplifting quotes anymore, they want traffic and subtotals. Many journalists were inspired by writers who were able to connect with the masses because they said something that related to them directly. Doing what you want is the longer way to achieve goals and you won’t win right away, in fact you’ll lose a lot but in the end you will triumph. It’s like boxing, one can put on a really great show and throw fancy jabs all twelve rounds and trick the crowd into thinking they’re winning, but in reality if they don’t connect then they lose. Journalism in the world of today is slowly not connecting with the people and in turn the consumer is buying the product but they aren’t emotionally invested into what’s being written. There are but a few writers that do whatever it takes to spread an intellectual message to the masses in order to build awareness. So with all that, how can one handle the pressure of being true to their self and standing alone against the world?

Meet Lily Mercer, she’s a young entrepreneur from North London, United Kingdom who has her hands in every pot in regards to hip hop. She started her own print publication Viper Magazine after not being able to find a decent publication about the genre that helped shape her as a person. This magazine speaks to generation Y and has hundreds of pages of original content which includes:  news articles, interviews, original photos and much more. Since starting the magazine she’s had the likes of ScHool Boy Q, Kali Uchis and Dej Loaf on the covers. She also has a weekly radio show called The Lily Mercer Show which showcases noteworthy underground talent in the hip hop and r&b world. Her name has been making a lot of noise in the industry, so much so that Apple recruited her to become a host for their new streaming service Beats 1.  Even before starting her magazine her resume was already extensive, interviewing the likes of Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, Mary J Blige and A$AP Rocky just to name a few. Speaking to her was like speaking to a martyr who is willing to die for what they believe in. She is motivated by her desire for success and the blind faith that there’s a happy ending ahead of her that seems to be written already.

Words By: Roger Kimbeni

Mechanical Dummy:  What drew you in to hip hop?

Lily Mercer: Honestly it was Bone Thugs & Harmony so that goes back, way back from when I was eight. There were two videos that impacted me early on; it was “Crossroads” by Bone Thugs & Harmony and “Wishing on a Star” by Jay-Z. Those were the two artists that I basically felt some kind of attraction to. Bone Thugs stayed with me forever, I bought the album and I religiously listened to them. Jay-Z too, I got way more into Jay-Z over the years and I think that for me there was an immediate attraction to the sound but it wasn’t necessarily something that I understood; it’s not like my life reflected that.  But at the same time I grew up in a city where there’s lots going on and a lot of that did reflect in the music. So yeah I identified with it really early on without really knowing why. Then work [hip hop journalism] came early on so I guess I got more into it with the work and I mean I’ve just always been quite an obsessive person with what I’m into and I was so obsessed with hip hop growing up. Like I was buying The Source Magazine at twelve, going into school and all the guys in my class used to like take it off me and read it before I got the chance to and then hand it back at the end. And I wasn’t bullied but it sounds like I was [chuckles]. But that’s the thing though, in a weird way it kind of like helped me make a lot of friends early on because maybe I identify with people that were into hip-hop that wouldn’t of ever spoken to me had I not brought The Source Magazine in and I made friends out of that.

MD: No doubt, was your family cool with you being into hip hop?

LM: Yeah the funny thing is I have a half brother who’s eight years older than me so when I was eight he was sixteen and UK Garage became the cool music to listen to in London, so finally enough he just gave me all of his hip hop albums. Like he got out of hip hop as I got into it. Weirdly enough though my mom who is also white [chuckles]; my mom was really into hip-hop and she actually bought this compilation tape which was called “The Best Rap Album in the World Ever”. It had like Ice Cube’s “Today was a Good Day” , “Feel my Flow” by Naughty by Nature, it even had PM Dawn on it, it was really versatile but that was really like the project that made me realize that I loved hip hop. My mom let me have control of the tape player in the car so I would actually make compilation tapes and my mom would listen to them with me and love the music. She never had a problem with me playing [music with bad language]. I had the Death Row’s Greatest Hits album because I was too young to be into them the first time around but then the Greatest Hits album came out and I would play that in the car and she didn’t even blink when I played “Ain’t No Fun” by Snoop Dogg, “Shit on You” by D12 and she had no problems with these songs. I think really she just didn’t understand what they were about but she actually was just as passionate about hip hop as I was in a weird way and that helped me understand that [ her mother was into music]. She was really into Motown Records before, she just loves music and so she saw that passion in me and she encouraged that and let me have full reign of whatever I wanted to play because she didn’t want to cut me off and say “that’s bad” [chuckles].

MD: So would you say that’s where a lot of your creativeness came from?

Yeah I think so, to be honest both my parents are like really-really big on music and they religiously listen to music but at the same time they both work in creative fields. My dad is a landscape gardener, he works with gardens and stones and my mom has a film library; so my mom sells film clips of like Marilyn Munroe and street scenes in New York and she’ll sell those to people making documentaries and she’s made documentaries herself. She put on her own vintage film festival which has all documentary footage. So yeah I’ve got like two very independent creative parents who kind of think outside the box. Both of their industries aren’t mainstream but they’re creative and they do these really cool jobs that I kind of watched them do. My dad worked for himself my entire life, my mom worked for herself since I was eleven so I grew up watching my parents work for themselves and have this independence and drive for what they loved. Honestly I can’t do a job that I don’t love, like every day I wake up and I basically don’t think of it as work, and I always say that, like my job is to interview people’s favorite musicians like that’s not a job but I work really-really hard to make sure that’s why I do it so it balances out.

LILY1

MD: Yeah for sure, I feel you. Speaking of that, when you’re a creative person it kind of does become hard when you’re thinking about the bills you have to pay and being in a social structure (school, work, business). How do you handle the pressure of being a creative and not knowing exactly when that check is coming in and what keeps you encouraged to be creative?

LM: Um, I got really good at cooking meals that don’t cost much money [laughs]. But also I think that you’ve got to figure out as well that journalism is never really the job that pays the bills. That’s something that I learned early on and also like there’s certain parts of my job I don’t get paid for, like I don’t get paid to go do an interview. Unless I’m writing an article, which means that it’s going to take another day or two to write that up and then make it look perfect and then send it off to like Dazed and Confused, then wait for my paycheck. I’ve waited six months once for a paycheck for a cover story, so you can never expect that check to be right around the corner. So I think that for me I figured out what helped was DJ-ing. For example, if you’re selecting the music anyway for the radio then why not turn that into a playlist and try if you can, getting a job at a club or DJ a party. I was quite lucky in London that a lot of my friends were party promoters and they kind of took me under their wing and gave me the opening slot at a party knowing that I couldn’t really DJ much but like that gave me the practice to get a bit better. Now I’m DJing for Adidas and Baby G, that’s just this week that I did a party for those two and I think like that was my little way out of poverty. It’s also about being quite smart with your money and stuff; I started a magazine and my goal was just to make sure that it didn’t take a loss, I wasn’t trying to get rich off my magazine but I put all my money into something because I’m passionate about it and hopefully one day that’ll turn into a paycheck [chuckles].

MD:  So when did you start Viper Magazine and why did you start Viper Magazine?

LM: It was always my goal to start a magazine like my degree is in journalism, even though it’s fashion journalism; I basically learned how to make a magazine quite early on. And I was actually in fashion school making a magazine about anger when everyone else was making fashion magazines. I actually approached Danny Brown for an interview, I interviewed Danny Brown for my uni graduate project five years ago and coincidentally he got really famous [laughs] but like that kind of thing was always a goal for me, I always wanted to make a magazine and I always wanted to have this little kind of media empire where I can do the magazine and other things.  When I actually started it I was in an airport going to New York and I went to the airport news station and there wasn’t a single magazine I wanted to buy there. Like no hip hop magazines appealed to me and like obviously XXL and The Source is like yeah you can flip through them and still [be satisfied]. You’ll read some things that might be of interest but ultimately I felt that they were dumbing down the culture that I really respected and I felt that there was a real lack of magazines that were intelligent and covering hip hop. And also like appealing to women as well, like I would pick up The Source and it would have you know, all these naked girls like the eye candy segment and I just thought it was a Men’s Magazine and I never realized it was for women and I just bought it anyway. I just feel that there wasn’t a magazine that was covering the culture in a respectful and intelligent way and pushing forward new ideas but at the same time breaking artists. I don’t think there is one besides Viper to be really honest with you. I think that there are some amazing magazines, like Mass Appeal does so much for the culture. But at the same time I feel that Viper is like the slightly younger generation’s magazine and it’s like there to tell you “Oh there’s this great new artist, Kali Uchis”. And no one really knew who Kali Uchis was in that sense when we put her on the cover and now she’s got such a huge following it’s like we’ve proven ourselves in making the right decisions and pushing the right artists forward.

LILY2

MD: What do you think happened with hip hop journalism as far as why there aren’t as many deep articles written anymore? Is there a reason why that is?

LM: I think three things: one, the internet, two, advertising and this whole pay for clicks thing and three, this thing called content. If you look at magazines like Complex which is doing a great job in print right now, going online you just see all these lists and like people basically wanting you to click as many times so they can get paid as many times as possible. It’s not about pushing the right story anymore, it’s about getting the most clicks and that’s the laziest form of journalism, it’s not even journalism in my opinion. But I think that that’s the problem in the sense that most people today don’t want to invest a lot of time into reading an article and they don’t want to necessarily read like the smart version. This is a genuine article on Complex that I saw; “Fifty photos of Birdman rubbing his hands together” and the saddest thing is I clicked through a lot of them you know? I’m guilty of the same thing but I think that that’s the thing, it’s like today’s viewer is not necessarily lazy but I think the person producing the content assumes they’re lazy. And also I guess it’s things like Buzz Feed, Buzz Feed gets way more hits than Viper would because it’s so immediate and it’s like a cool story or it’s funny or it’s media and like I think that that’s the problem as well, people do want to read that and that’s why it’s like the most popular thing out there.

MD: It is great to see that you’re doing something different and pushing the culture. A lot of people don’t know that with your show “The Lily Mercer Show” you’re actually pushing a lot of underground rap that will be mainstream one day. When did you start digging for records? How old were you when you started looking for the new age “Blog Rap” type era?

LM: I think it was probably about in 2010, so I graduated and I set up a website for my uni degree and  we had to do a website and I just thought “why make this website for a magazine that may not exist. The magazine is called Viper so it did exist in the end but I didn’t see the point in buying a domain that’s like “Viper Mag” when I wasn’t going to make it yet so I named it after myself. So it was LilyMercer.co.uk and it really just became a place for me to put any of my articles that I write or anything that’s been published can go on there. I had a blog section and it was around the time that “Mezmorized” the Wiz Khalifa video came out and I was obsessed with that song. Then I came across Action Bronson and  Curren$y was already around, Stalley, Danny Brown I’ve already interviewed so it made sense to put all of his music up. And this was before Danny had even released “The Hybrid”. I basically was in uni religiously listening to like old Wu Tang albums and Mobb Deep and CNN, whatever old albums that I wanted to revisit. Because in my opinion hip hop was dead, there wasn’t anything, this was around the time  that Nas said hip hop was dead (2006-2008) and I felt he was right so I stopped listening until probably around 2009 or 2010 and I started to come across these artists again. From that it just seemed natural, I basically started to click any name I didn’t know; so if I saw a name that I was unaware of I would just click it and I’d find out if I liked that person or not. Even if it was like a featured artist I would click the name, I came across Bodega Bamz because of Smoke DZA and it’s funny because Bodega Bamz would still say “you were one of the first people to put me on your blogs and liked to play my music.” Like I got into Bodega Bamz before anyone in America did in that sense.  In my opinion a lot of the artists that I’m playing on my show and I blog, they’re not really getting that exposure especially outside of the U.S. so I really like being able to give them this kind of global appeal. Even though it’s only one more country and England isn’t that big I do think that there’s something quite cool about the fact that these artists can see that they’re music is going further than just the U.S.

LILY5

MD: Yeah because you’re always pushing, all these new artists are continuing to develop the culture and a lot of people say Hip Hop is dead and they only want to look back [into older hip hop]. But these new artists are doing great things. So eventually you got to interview some of these artists, what was the process of getting your first interview with an artist?

LM: Well the Danny Brown thing was quite cool because he only had a thousand followers [at the time] and he followed me back after I followed.  I just sent him a dm [direct message on twitter] saying “Hey, you’re my new favorite rapper can I interview you?” it was so simple, we spoke for like two hours on Skype and just had like this proper intense kind of chat because he likes Grime. So that was like the first process, but eventually I started working for a company called SB.TV, you can look at that as like a later version of SMACK DVD but featuring the UK only. So he (Jamal Edwards) was filming freestyles with these rappers and capturing the Grime scene. He expanded really early on and I guess that he knew that I knew a lot about hip hop and he realized that if he got a rapper to come on the channel that it made sense to get me to do an interview. Some of my biggest interviews were for them, six members of Wu-Tang for SB.TV, A$AP Rocky, Mary J. Blige, Pete Rock and Just Blaze & Alchemist which was one of the best interviews I ever did because it was them two together; two of the funniest most underrated comedians in rap.

MD: Legendary Artists

LM: Literally, so I just started to get the trust of companies that would let me do interviews with them; then shortly after I just started doing it for my show. I probably have a thirty second success rate for finding artist to be on my show by finding their contact info and getting in touch with their Management and PR. Even if it’s for my radio show or something that I’m going to put on my blog people tend to be quite welcoming to that.

MD: What’s the greatest length that you went for an interview, what’s one of the craziest stories you have for getting an interview?

LM: The longest I’ve ever waited was actually for Black Milk, I showed up for his sound check and he wasn’t ready so I then ended up watching the entire show with supports acts too. And then did the interview in the lobby of his hotel at midnight, so I waited like twelve hours to do that but then we ended up drinking champagne in plastic cups after, which I thought was a nice ode to Dilla you know “keep it ghetto with the plastic cup.” Oddly enough, the hardest interview to get was actually the latest one for The Viper Magazine cover. I was going through two sets of managers for Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples and they were both on tour together, which should have made it easier but it actually made it harder. But I spent about a good month emailing every day, so just so everyone knows it doesn’t get easier as you get further into your career it can get harder. It ended up [the Vince and Earl interview] being like a stroke of luck and we did a 3-way phone call and during which Earl was getting some oral pleasure which was quite funny.

[Both laughing]

LM: Me and Vince only found out after though. Basically I as present while Earl got head and I didn’t even know.

LILY4

MD: Yoooo, ain’t no business like show business! Have you ever been star struck before?

LM: Well I think the only time that I’ve been like unable to speak because of being star struck was only a few blocks from where we’re sitting. When I was seventeen I went to go see Cam’Ron and I got in with a fake I.D. and this was like the Purple Haze era, so like way before hipsters found out about who Cam’Ron was. It was literally like me and one other white person in the crowd, this was like in 2005 so it was a while ago. So I went outside after the show and Cam’Ron was standing around the corner just greeting fans and this guy who was standing next to me was like “Do you want to talk to Cam’Ron?” and I was like “Yeah”. So he taps Cam’Ron and tells him this girl would like a hug and Cam’Ron hugged me and I just couldn’t even say anything, I just stood there as Cam’Ron hugged me and I was just like “aaahh”. But to be honest with you since then I’ve ran into a lot of people now and you realize how human people are. Like with Mary J. bilge I wasn’t star struck, but I made her laugh, I asked her a question like “What’s your break up song, since everyone cries to your song, like what do you cry to when you break up with someone?” and she busted out laughing. And Mary J. bilge is so like perfect and she’ll be sitting there with not a hair out of place and lights around her, she doesn’t move, like she’s a star and I made her laugh, I was like “oh my god oh my god like Mary J.Blige” she showed this real like human emotion, I wasn’t star struck but I couldn’t believe that I had that moment with her, you know what I mean? She’s a legend.

MD: Word, so during the beginning of your career it’s like you’re doing all these things and everything’s moving for you and now you’re transitioning to becoming a businesswoman. With Viper Magazine, now you are a businesswoman, you have interns and you have to meet certain deadlines. What does it take to own a magazine and run a business?

LM: Dedication is the first thing; I think that you just have to be really passionate about it. Like I shouldn’t say this really but every issue of Viper I thought “This isn’t going to happen” like I would think that “I can’t see this coming up”. You kind of wake up in the morning and you’re like “I don’t know how I’m going to produce the money to produce this, I don’t know how I’m going to get this interview done, I don’t know how we’re even going to get these photos done” and when we have the interviews done already, I’m just thinking “who can shoot someone in L.A. right now?”. Like those kind of questions kind of pop up on a daily basis and I think that it’s blind faith. I should claim more of it being about my abilities but naturally fact is, all my naivety to make this happen, makes it happen. Because certain things I’ve just been unable to see; like how the issue is going to be completed and by just sheer determination [it happens]. And also I have the most incredible team behind me you know? It’s just a lot of people that just want to get their work out there. I’ve got a great seventeen year old in Detroit, he might be eighteen now Samuel Trotter, he’s a great photographer. I’ve got some amazing friends that are writers, photographers, stylists and if they didn’t have the same drive and determination, there’s no way I could produce a magazine. It’s all about the team I have behind me and also just the fact that we love what we do and everything we do we believe in it. So I’d rather make this magazine that makes me no money and have those people doing something in their future then to disappear into obscurity and Viper not exist. I think that it’s the fact that it needs to be there even if it’s not me that does it, there needs to be this magazine and that’s what keeps us going.

LILY3

MD: I feel you on that, that’s awesome. It must be kind of hard coordinating projects with people long distance via phone and what not. How do you make sure that their getting on their deadlines and all that?

LM: I work long hours so for example if someone is doing a shoot in L.A. I’m often awake during that time because it won’t go on into the night. I don’t chase people too much because a lot of the time we’re not necessarily paying someone to do some of the shoots so I can’t be on someone’s back too much but like I do think that it’s basically keeping the conversation going and if someone’s passionate enough about it when they say “Ok, we’re shooting on this day” I usually believe them and it usually does come through a few days later. We’ve had a few times where someone didn’t get the exact concept of what we wanted to do but with a few cool designs you can usually just save everything. Sometimes we’ll get cover images that aren’t portrait shots, their landscape so it’s like “ok, this isn’t going to fit the cover so what can we do to make it proper?” Even with the last issue, two hours before we went to go print [the magazine] I was like redesigning the cover myself because I didn’t like what was sent to me and I’m like a crazy perfectionist. With the Kali Uchis issue which was our second issue that we produced I probably designed about eighty percent of that magazine because my graphic designer broke up with his girlfriend and discovered Xanax; so I had to design what was left just to make deadline. I think that that’s the most important thing, I’m willing to deliver the magazines, take them to the post office, I design elements of it, to me the entire business is my responsibility, it’s not like I just delegate to someone and expect them to get it done. So I’m quite hands on with things and I think that and the personal relationship means that usually when someone is doing something I can trust them to produce something and it’ll look great.

MD: That’s a great talent of yours like being able to connect with different people and them understanding you on a different level. I understand that you’ve traveled a lot, what are some places that you’ve been and how have they affected you in your life.

LM: Well this is a bit of a heavy one but probably the most influential one was when I was seventeen I was in the tsunami in Southeast Asia. So I wasn’t physically affected but seeing that happen especially at quite a young age kind of shaped a lot of my view of life and the world. There’s this thing called Survivor’s Guilt, surviving something gives you this weird kind of responsibility where now you have to do something with your life because you survived. That’s not why I’m like this, it’s not like I had a near death experience but I saw people die and to me that was like if you’re going to be here for a reason then prove it. I’ve been hit by a car as well and those two things happened a week apart, I got hit by a car first then I went to Sri Lanka and witnessed probably one of the most damaging natural disasters of our lifetime. So that kind of thing really made me determine things, like I came home and changed a lot of aspects of my life and I always knew that I wanted to do this kind of stuff but it’s like maybe I wouldn’t have been as determined or I wouldn’t have proven that I could do it. So early on if it wasn’t for the fact that I went through something that made me realize how short life is and how quick things can be taken away from you. I know that that was a bit heavy.

LILY7

MD: No that’s what we do, keeping it real. With all that being said all your hard work is paying off, you’re now dealing with Apple’s new streaming service Beats 1. Tell the people what’s going on with that.

LM: Well it’s quite surreal actually, I got an email in my junk from Apple and they were like “Hey, we would like to have a meeting”. So I show up with all my magazines and I was thinking maybe they want to talk about them advertising in Viper or something like that. This meeting ended up being like a job interview so it was quite cool and nothing happened for a few months and then finally they let me in like four months later and sent me a NDA (Non-Disclosure-Agreement) just to say like “We’re going to tell you what’s going on now” and I mean when they told me what the plan was I got chills because like I’ve never heard of a global radio station that’s 24 hours a day and has people like Dre, Elton John who’s literally like a god in England you know? Like to me it was an insane opportunity and I couldn’t believe that they wanted me to be a part of it. It’s nice because a lot of the work I’ve done I kind of naively think that no one is listening, when I do my Rinse show it’s like “there’s probably five people somewhere listening” but it’s actually a lot more people aware of what I’m doing then I realize. To have a company like Apple and Beats by Dre come in and want me to be on board it kind of proves to me that all of the free work I’ve done and all of the late nights with no one paying attention were actually beneficial, it’s really easy to give up on something when you think no one cares. It’s such a fun experience because I’m just talking about music to the world and I’ve never really saw radio as being something that would be as much as a part in my career because when I was approached by Rinse FM they saw my blog and just thought it would be a cool show. To me Rinse in the UK is an institution; it’s like Hot97 in New York, one of the most influential stations in London in my opinion. It was illegal for the first eighteen years, pirate radio and illegal broadcasting is a huge thing in England. It kind of reminds me of what I do in a sense, they’re literally like making building blocks and climbing up a pole just to transmit music that they thought was good for free. They actually had people get arrested and fined and some people even died putting up those poles because they fell off the building. Pirate radio is like, that to me is the essence of wanting something so bad that by whatever means necessary you will get that music out to the world. So with what I do I feel like it’s a very less extreme version like whatever I do I’m going to make sure that people hear the music that I want to put out there.  So I think that working for pirate radio and then working for this corporate conglomerate empire is quite interesting to me. I get to do both sides of the industry and it’s like an adventure putting music out on both different sides.

LILY6

MD: Would you be willing to work for a company that wanted you to do only what they want you to do?

LM: I would like to think that a company wouldn’t approach me if they didn’t like my work already as it is. If someone were to come up to me and say “I really like what you do but can you only play pop music” I’d say no because I just think that I wouldn’t come across as passionate, I’m a bit see through like that, if I genuinely think that something is amazing you’ll believe me when I talk about it and that’s why I think my show is cool because even if the person has no following and there’s an artist that I’m and I say “No, this is like the best song out there right now” people will believe me even if it’s someone they haven’t heard of or at least they’ll see the passion in it. So I think that with branding and with companies I personally think that like the tiny brand I have is quite solid and I wouldn’t water it down by working with someone that I don’t agree with. I said this quite recently to someone, I saw this in a Public enemy documentary and the engineer said “We wanted our coffee black” and that’s how he explained how they made music and I feel the same, I don’t want to water down the music I do, I don’t want to put milk in and make it a paler version then what it is. I don’t even like censoring music that’s why my show is entirely explicit.

MD: At 1 am

LM: Yeah at 1am because yeah it’s 5pm in L.A., it’s late enough for not too many people to be offended and I would be sad if I had to get my show cleaned to be honest with you. So I definitely wouldn’t change what it is just because someone wanted to pay me.

MD: See that’s why you’ll be one of the greatest in the game for real, no gassing, you’ll pass away leaving a mark in the game. What can you say to some of the young people out there who are trying to get in the game?

LM: This goes for people who are trying to get into the media or people trying to do music, being a rapper or a singer. The most important thing in the world is to stay true to who you are and I think that that’s often a bit cheesy and a bit overused. The thing is like, I get probably like 100 songs a week that people want me to listen to and 90% of those songs won’t make it onto my blog because they sound like someone else, so recently a lot of the submissions I found sound a lot like Fetty Wap, a while ago it was OG Maco, like a rapper will come into the industry and that’s their sound but then everyone tries to copy it. That is the number one reason why I won’t listen to someone is because they sound too similar to someone else. I’d rather hear someone that’s like making terrible music but is true to who they are then hear someone trying to recreate something because it’s hot right now. I think that goes for people trying to do what I do as well, like when you look at me I don’t look like the average hip hop fan. I don’t try to change the way I look to look more like somebody more on trend. Like I’m not going to wear a snapback just because snapbacks are cool, I think that I know what looks good on me and a snap back definitely doesn’t so I always stay true. Even down to the way I dress and talk, you won’t hear me talk like “Yo, Yo, Yo” on my radio show because I’m a white girl from London, it doesn’t really sound good on me. The thing is when I’m being me it sounds more natural and even if you think I sound like a complete idiot it’s slightly more endearing then trying to be something I’m not. If you go on my website there’s like pink all over my website so I’m still a female even when I design my business cards, I’m thinking what would Russell Simmons remember? Russell Simmons actually said in one of his books he said that with Run DMC people told him to make them pop and he said no because if we keep them as they are the pop scene will come to us, and he was right look what happened. So I just think that like when I make my business cards I make them pink so that if Russell Simmons got them he’d be like “I remember that girl because she’s got pink business cards and I’ve never got a pink business card”. That’s why it’s like I think a lot of people would be like what does this little blonde girl know about rap but by producing the content it doesn’t matter what I look like, it doesn’t matter if I don’t look cool enough or if I look like I don’t understand the industry, I stand out because I’m not trying to be what everyone else is. I think that’s why people are more endeared by what I do because I’m not trying to sell out or just jump on what’s hot. I play you what I like and I dress the way I want to and I never compromise for anyone. That’s the only advice I can give anyone.

Roger Kimbeni is a fan-first when it comes to Hip Hop. He's also a radio personality on CJUM 101.5FM based in Winnipeg, Canada. Who has interviewed the likes of : Raekwon, Joey Badass, The Internet, Devin the Dude, Jesse Boykins III, Isaiah Rashad and many more

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