With an air of mystery surrounding her next EP Laughta has mastered the art of keeping us hooked.
From her latest single 'Pree My Ting' produced by "grime veteran" Jammer to her upcoming projects, Laughta is a female emcee with a difference. Speaking proudly on her belief in female unity in the grime scene, Laughta lets us know why empowering women in music is important, future events & we touch on how police brutality in London hasn't changed much since her childhood.
Give us a bit of background - you were born in Nigeria but are Lebanese, what's the story there?
I was born in Nigeria, I grew up there. So I lived there for 7 years, I had grandparents that were born there and when my dad was alive he owned a business there. And then we came to England for a fresh new start because things out there weren't good and the currency was going corrupt and there was a bit of violence happening out there, so we literally came to England with nothing, and it was literally a fresh new start.
My Lebanese background, to be honest, it's like the only Lebanese I know is my family, like my nuclear family that I am around. And I know this sounds depressing but the first time I went to Lebanon was when I had to go to my dad's funeral and that was 6 years ago. So yeah the Lebanese is in me, genetically if you know what I mean, maybe culturally not too much.
So when did you get into music?
When I got to England, I was living in a bed and breakfast, I was getting moved around, it wasn't really easy. Then I got placed in a council estate when I was 9 years old, and it was a big culture there, where people were really into grime. So from a young age, I was around people that would just sit around and make bars.
Like we were on the block and everyone would just drop lines and we would bang on the door to create a beat, I wasn't really spitting then but I was listening, and then I started to take it a lot more seriously when my dad passed away.
I was just like, you know what, I love grime, I love the music, I love hip hop and I was like this is something that I have always wanted to do but I have never actually taken that step because I was distracted with other things in life.
So it happened organically for you?
Exactly! It's not like, I have been picked up by a label or anything like that, it's nothing like that, I have just literally been, I can't explain it to you, it's like if you are good at something, or you been around it, it just something you do, it's like a hobby. But I have only just started taking it more seriously, now that I am putting out official releases and stuff like that.
Tell us about your latest single 'Pree My Ting'?
Yeah 'Pree My Ting' is out right now, the video is out on YouTube, it's out on Spotify, iTunes and the song itself is produced by Jammer, who you know is a grime veteran, who's been about for days and is an original, and who is famously known for being in Boy Better Know.
Working with Jammer, how was that for you?
Honestly, like words can't even explain it because I feel like he gave me a massive opportunity, he put a lot of time and effort into me, and we just did a whole single. So it was just such a nice experience, a nice working environment, we literally just got on with it, no qualms, we just got on with it.
We just connected straight away, organic, it wasn't like forced, he invited me down to his studios, literally we was in his home studio, and it was just like, the fact that he invited me to your home, shows that you are opening your doors, so I just felt welcomed as soon as I stepped in. And it was quick, he just laid the drum patterns, as soon as he laid the drum patterns I heard the chorus in my head and we created the song.
What is the message you would like to get across in your music?
It's not like I have a specific message, but I guess my morals and values, I like to empower females and I don't see as many girls out there. Well now it is becoming more common, but not really in grime, you don't really see girls at the forefront spitting bars so I am out there just showing that whatever guys can do girls can do to.
And it's good not to say girls are better, we are all on a equal level, you can do anything you want if you dedicate and put your time into it. You know I couldn't even speak a word of English now I am spitting bars, I have got metaphors, I have got similes, I have got everything in there, so anything is possible.
So what are you doing personally to empower more women to get involved in the grime scene?
I have actually put on a lot of events, I have put on an event called 'Female Hype' and that was only females on the line up apart from the host who was a comedian, with big hair, he was funny.
I have had all the female rappers on my shows, like Ms Banks, Stefflon Don, Pagiey Cakey, C Cane, I have had a lot of the girls on my showcases, that was my main way of bringing girls on to a platform that was good. Because my shows were selling out when I first started taking music more seriously. I have not had time to put on an event, so I haven't put one on for the last year, or just over a year cause I have been focusing on my EP and releasing music.
But I am also going to put on an event with me and Lisa Mercedez it's going to be again predominantly females. For me, it's all about female unity, as much as I can but obviously, that's determined by other people's actions as well, but I am all about working with girls and bringing everyone together, but it's not always possible.
Have you had to fight your way to where you are now? Did you get there with your good looks?
You know it's mad, it's like I don't think my good looks are helping me, I guess they attract some good attention, however, for you to be taken seriously I believe personally in grime, you also have to look the part. So if I am looking too cute it is actually quite hard. But this is who I am, I am not trying to fake anything, we ain't got no extra money coming to us, we are doing this independently, this is real for me, it's not fake, this is what I do, but I am just starting to do it now on a professional level if you know what I mean, so I have experienced hardship, I have had so many no's.
It must have been a difficult time?
Yeah, it's not as easy as it looks, along the way you experience some bruises. For me I have never let any 'no' stop me from working, I have been through a lot, even personal life and things like that and I have overcome every challenge because of my mindset. I am tenacious, I work hard and I am consistent with what I do.
What is your take on grime nowadays?
I think grime is where it should be, I feel from years ago grime was making noise in an underground world, when it started out it was battling, lord of the mics, and it attracted a lot of attention, and it kinda got slept on by the mainstream scene. And it was less underground for a while. So the fact that it is going worldwide at the moment, I think it is where it is meant to be, because grime is its own genre developed in London, it found your great people like, Wiley, Dizzee, like Skeptas, like your Bizzles and they, are still around, and that says a lot.
What is the worst trouble you ever been in?
I have not been arrested if that's what you are asking, I haven't got a criminal record.
But I have been in a lot of trouble but I can't think of the worst, I have been in trouble in terms of where I have... I mean I can't really reveal that, can I?
Yeah, you can, this is a no judgment space.
Honestly, I can't really remember, I was a bit naughty when I was younger, I would say I have gotten in trouble, but I have never had a criminal record. I have never actually got in trouble really, I don't think for something that I have done.
Where I grew up on the estate we used to get, stopped by the police for no reason, that's like me not doing anything, but you get stopped and they put your name down, it feels like you are getting in trouble but you have actually done nothing wrong so that's probably the worst. I am actually a goody two shoes.
So what is your view on police nowadays and how they are treating the youth?
For me because I've been around it a lot, nothing has changed, I don't think it's got worse, I think it's becoming more apparent in people eyes because the media has obviously started to talk about it. And you've got Twitter, Instagram so a lot of videos of police brutality, for the minority of the police who do behave like that, cause you don't want to blame all the police, to generalise.
But it is being circulated around, and it is creating an image for every single police officer but from my experience, some people are unfairly targeted and I have got firsthand experience of that. Growing up on a council estate, so I don't think anything has changed, I just think it is becoming more widespread, through our social media and the technology we have got these days.
Obviously I can't talk for America because I am not there yet, I am talking about the UK, but in America that's another story and that stuff upsets me, I don't even want to go into it and talk that deep, there are things that happened that are beyond our control and it's sad, it looks really bad out there.
What ideas changed your life?
Kind of my idea for life itself and how short life is, like I said, for me I was living life freely, I used to do a lot of things, playing basketball, I was playing division two, I was doing performing arts, I was doing a lot of things, and I was always busy.
I don't think I was ever really, in reality, I was just excited and moving on, so when my dad passed away, it changed my whole perception of life and only someone that's lost someone so close will understand. Your priorities in life change, every day I am more grateful even waking up, it sounds deep, but I just thank god for everything I have got.
So what is the first law you would change if you were prime minister?
Well currently there seems to be a high number of acid attacks, there is a past law on this at the moment so I would add a serious penalty to anyone that is caught with acid without a reason and actually uses it. I would make it as serious as someone carrying a weapon cause they've got like really bad intentions.
You released your EP My Terms & Conditions earlier this year, and already have a new single out, so what else have you got in the works?
The thing is I have recorded so many singles, I think it looks like I am going to do another EP by the end of the year, so I have got a lot of singles there, I might just compile it and make it into an EP.
What can we expect from this upcoming EP?
I think it is best to be quiet.
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