Grime’s had a bad reputation since its birth, from the ashes of garage, just over ten years ago. It’s a misogynistic, aggressive, patriarchal genre which puts most people off its sound. Or at least it used to be. In the last few years there’s been a new wave of talented, creative individuals reshaping a genre that would’ve quickly burned out from irresponsibility and violence. I managed to grab No Lay, a female MC from East London with a difference, already well established on the scene, for a quick chat the other day.
How important is feminism to you as a female mc in 2010?
“I feel as a female in a business dominated by males that it’s important to assert yourself as a female and stand your ground… But not to be too stuck on girl power as sometimes this creates a larger barrier between the two genders. My approach kind of speaks for itself. I don’t emphasize the fact that women are becoming just as accepted as males in certain roles in society because I find it’s smarter to acknowledge your progress as a woman and let others acknowledge it too.”
How important is a sense of British identity in your songs?
“Very important because a lot of different countries have their own sound and I think it is so much better to of been part of something when a trend was set and lead the way, rather than hearing something and following it. English music is very cutting edge that is why I am calling my next retail/online release Cutting Edge Culture because of our sound and essence.”
What artists have influenced you and what artists would you like to work with?
“I am influenced by so many different sounds, it’d be so hard to sit here and name all the artists that I would love to work with as I have a very very long list. My immediate responses would have to be Kings of Leon, Nas, Adelle, I love her! Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Ellie Goulding, Sizzla and Styles P… Oh, and Paramore [giggles], a weird mixture I know! But I could sit here all day and name artists… I just love music and the different sounds and styles it has to offer.”
Your tone as a rapper seems to have mellowed out as the years have gone by, was this a conscious choice?
“I think I’ve learnt to create a balance in order to target the right audiences. I’ve also matured and with growth comes change but I won’t speak too soon as I still have a lot of Raw in me and that reality hits home sometimes. But with that said, I have commercially viable tracks and tracks that display other sides to who I am but I’ve never thought; ‘I’m going to soften my style and sell out the old No Lay’ ha”
Do you think Grime as a genre ceases to be Grime when it’s sold to an international audience? (For example Chipmunk, Tinchy and Dizzee seemed to have adopted less aggressive lyrical styles and more westernized melodies.)
“Yes I do, because would you, or anyone else who knows what Grime is call any mainstream music released by once Grime artists Grime?… No! Grime has been a great stepping stone and has catapulted artists in to the limelight but it’s not a solidified mainstream genre yet. Good luck to them quite honestly, if it makes them happy. As long as they’ve worked hard to make it out of the Underground, they deserve to put whatever they like out there whether it is rock, pop, soul etc”
What’s a perfect day in No Lays world?
“A perfect day in my world would be to have all my true loved ones around me without a care in the world, laughing until our bellies can’t take it anymore… And to bring back all those who died so young for one day to be part of that happiness and share that love too. I don’t think it could get much better than that.”
What’s your ideal man?
“My ideal man is one that doesn’t feel threatened by a woman who is quite independent, assertive and confident and knows what she wants in life! I find that some men just want a girl to sit there and look pretty with nothing to say for herself. Also height appeals to me… I like my men to be tall because I’m around 5’1, so no Shaq O’Neals, but no midgets [laughter] … I have a crush on Adam Rodriguez from CSI…”
Who’d be around the table if No Lay had a dinner party?
“If I had a dinner party it would be total mayhem but in a great way. I have so many friends and associates from different walks of life that I would not be able to decide where to seat one without them rubbing this one up the wrong way. I myself am quite adaptable but I can’t say the same for everyone I know… You would be there though.”
What other passions make up No Lays life?
“When I ain’t making music I enjoy dancing and singing, reading and getting out all my CD’s of other artists and just playing them one after each other… Going shopping for clothes, bags, shoes and pretty things… I have a real problem when it comes to pretty girly things and most of all sharing my son’s world and socialising with the ones I love and that love me.”
And finally, what’s your favourite kind of fizzy pop and why?
“[Laughter] my favourite kind of fizzy pop would have to be coke.”
No Lay will be doing a show in Geneva in October with Tinie Tempah amongst other festivals this year and is working on a video for her track ‘Good Life’ with London pop sensation Lauren Mason. No Lay has a free download series entitled Big Trouble in Little London which began in March, releasing track instalments in six parts over the next few months to promote her Retail/Online Merch; Cutting Edge Culture, available through her MySpace.