Get 2 Know, U.K. Dancehall Artist, Lisa Mercedez

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“You see the thing is, once you tell yourself that you wanna do something and you believe in yourself, wherever that contact is, wherever these people are, you’re going to find them.”

To the younger generation she may appear as a new upcoming artist but in reality Lisa Mercedez has been actively pursuing music since she crossed the waters from Jamaica and began residing in England aged 15. Open in her musical taste you’ll find Katy Perry next to Beyoncé and Rihanna on her playlist, but in particular Lisa was heavily influenced by Jamaican Dancehall artist Lady Patra “I remember coz I always looked up to Lady Patra from ever since, so I remember I was with my friends when I was like 18/19 in the house and we were playing Lady Patra on YouTube, we were dancing and I said to my friends, ‘one day I’m gonna be like this woman, I love her so much.’ My friends just started laughing and I would start dj’in in the house. (Lisa starts singing Queen Of The Pack – Lady Patra). That’s my favourite track from her, and my friend was like ‘Lisa you can actually do this you know !’ I was like alright then, let’s do it. I just got up randomly out the blue and started writing bars, everyday writing bars.” 

With an influx in female rappers to surface from England in the last few years with a similar delivery, U.K. rap has taken a different direction and has evolved from the PG format we once knew it to be. Yet despite being one of the first female artists to start what is now a signature trend for many, Lisa is only now reaping the benefits of her musical graft. I asked for her views on why she feels it’s taken years to get to the stage she is at musically, “I was born in Jamaica and I kinda feel like because I’m from there, maybe because I got this strong patois accent, that, I just don’t think England’s actually ready for that, they’d rather prefer the mainstream sounding, when it’s more watered down, they would more accept it that way, but because I’m like the U.K.’s Spice, they think I’m more aggressive, that’s what I’m thinking like. If they got their own British person to come and just start speaking they’d more accept them, because I’m from Jamaica I’m very authentic, so their not used to this kind of sound over here, that’s what I think.”

 

Rae: Lisa !! So for those that don’t know, you were the first and only lady in Warning Crew. So coming from Jamaica at 15 years old, that must have been a complete culture change for you, how did you manage to navigate your way into the scene then eventually into the music industry in the U.K. ?

Lisa: Yea proper, listen man, when I first came here I wasn’t even into music like that but then because I’m from Jamaica I’ve always been around musicians when I was back home, I’ve always loved music, it’s always been in my blood. My friend introduced me to someone called Frankie Max from North London, I said to him I wanna do music, that’s when he introduced me to one guy called Sweetboy. I started going to the studio to record but it wasn’t a professional set up, I had no one to mix down my songs properly. I was just going there to record but didn’t know where it was going. I used to just feel good to know my songs were playing on the underground stations and around that time I used to go to studio with Gappy Ranks as well at Jetstar Studio and travel to a studio with a guy called Gangster Kid. I said to myself I wanted to be like Lady Patra and just did it. I had times where I used to do the music then I’d stop, then I’d do it and then get fed up again. As you said I was the only female doing proper dancehall in the U.K. I met this guy called Manager, he kept saying to me he wanted me to meet a guy from Warning Crew that runs the crew. That’s when he introduced me to Stylo G, I went to have a meeting and they said to me that they were actually looking for a girl to join the crew. I used to complain to this guy about having to travel miles to go to studio, and talk about how hard it was having to pay big studio money. I used to live in Bermondsey and Stylo’s studio was in Bermondsey, I started going to studio for free and things got popping, after being introduced to Stylo everything just took off, he was from a crew and everything was more patterned. 

Rae: You’ve independently collaborated with Stylo G, Steff London, Ms Banks, and Abra Cadabra to name a few but alongside being an artist you’ve become a public figure represented by Echo Location, who are known for their impressive roster. How did you getting an agent come about ? 

Lisa: Yea you know when you’ve got an agent, they’ve got your back as well so I’ve been performing on bigger platforms now. My agent was a fan of my music, he loves dancehall music and messaged my manager saying he wanted to come on board one day, so yea, he didn’t have anyone like me on his roster and said ‘yea I wanna look after Lisa Mercedez’ so from there it just happened. 

Lisa’s involvement with Warning Crew took her music to a higher level where she went on to perform and record at various BBC 1xtra sets in alignment with other shows. The island girl with big dreams landed her most monumental shows this year when she was added to the Wireless Festival line up in company with the likes of J Cole, Rick Ross and French Montana, ten days later she announced her headline show was sold out. Comtinuing to deliver, Lisa is set to perform tomorrow, Saturday 25th August at the Reading Festival at 3pm on the BBC 1xtra stage and Sunday 26th August on the Red Bull Stage at Notting Hill Carnival next to headline act, Portmore’s very own Popcaan

Rae: You’ve stuck to your sound consistently throughout which has differentiated you from the rest and is finally starting to pay off. At what stage do you feel was the turning point in your career ? 

Lisa: I’d say it was a series of different things that lead to this point. I met Giggs at a video shoot and I told him I’m an artist, he asked me what my name was and I told him Lisa Mercedez and he started following me straight away. I put up a video on my page and he reposted it not long after, the caption said something along the lines of ‘Omg this girl is sick, where have you been ?’ He started to post my videos like every other day on his page and would sing the lyrics, that was my first turning point, that happened last year around the time ‘Real Ting’ came out and that was when my now agent enquires about me as well. I was getting shows before that and was performing, me and Steff London did ‘Kitty Kat’, that was even before she got this big now in like 2013/2014. Then Nicki Minaj retweeted ‘Yu Zimme Remix’. One of the biggest things to have ever happened for my career was when my manager said to me I’m on the line up for Wireless. I screamed, I was like ‘OMG!! I’m just forever grateful, I can’t believe it. 

Rae: What’s your relationship with Nicki Minaj like now ? And what was you reaction when you found out she had retweeted lyrics from ‘Yu Zimme Remix’ ? 

Lisa: I’m just going with the flow basically, Foxy Brown came onto my page two days ago, she was like ‘Me and Nicki love you! Your next up.’ (Laughs modestly). Whatever happens, happens, but what I don’t like nor do I want to is take sides with anyone in all this mix up that’s going on with the U.K. females and Americans. I just wanna stay right in the middle. It feels good to know Nicki is showing love, she dm’d me and told me ‘I’m a fan from far’. The day it happened Ms Banks called me early morning and she was screaming ! She was like ‘Lisa, go check online, Nicki Minaj just tweeted me’ I was like huh ? from ever since I’ve always been a Nicki Minaj fan, I literally burnt my rice and peas ! And I told her I burnt it as well, I know she likes the Dancehall thing, I messaged her and she messaged me back…. I couldn’t believe it. 

Rae: You mentioned to me that alongside being an artist, you are also a mother, when it comes to writing when do you get your time to write ? How do you find juggling motherhood and music ? 

Lisa: I’ve got a daughter and a son, it’s hard work but I’ve got a studio at home as well so that kind of helped me so I don’t need to run up and down all over the place. Say if I got dubplates to do or jingles, I could just do it by myself, but if I’ve got a proper studio session I just go and do what I have to do. One of my family members will look after the kids and I’m fine, but if you haven’t got help, that’s when it’s really hard. Last night I went to my bed at 1am coz I was writing for my set at Boiler Room Tv. I started writing at 3pm and finished 1am in the morning, bare disruption going on. I had to stop pick up my daughter from nursery, come home, make dinner, went to Boiler Room did my thing then went home. 

Adjacent to being a mother and artist, Lisa is soon to unleash her entrepreneurial skills in the form of her own record label which she will be releasing her music under, BCG – Boss Girl Circle Records.“Initially the idea came from me wanting to  form a crew, just bare girls, independent women just to show women empowerment to show let’s just do this, we’ll just see what happens and take it from there.”

Rae: What are your aspirations and hopes for the next five years ? And are there anymore collaborations/music being released soon…? 

Lisa: Definitely… we need to take it to another level now. In 5 years time I see myself touring the world, selling out big arenas, big collabs with all the top names. I’m coming more club banger now and taking it to another level, so I’m just watching the industry and seeing how it works. Me and my manager came up with the idea of making the music more mainstream so that’s the vibe we’re going for. Yes there’s more music, I got a big collab coming out soon but I’ll save that one….

Catch Lisa performing this carnival weekend, starting off at Reading Festival tomorrow 25th August at 3pm on BBC 1xtra’s stage and Sunday 26th August on Red Bull’s Sound System Stage at Notting Hill Carnival.