Rap star Lady Sanity is performing at the Commonwealth Games hand-over ceremony in Australia this month and she sees it as a chance for Birmingham to shine like never before on a world stage
Lady Sanity is a rising star on the UK rap scene having been spotted by BBC Introducing in 2015, subsequently rocking three slots at Glastonbury and winning industry awards. She’s now taken her music from her home production set-up to a ‘real’ studio with top production values and this proud Brummie means business.
She’s also proud and excited to be part of the Commonwealth Games hand-over ceremony at the closing of the Games in Australia’s Gold Coast this month. She’ll perform alongside other talented Brummies as the baton is passed onto Birmingham.
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Last year was pivotal for the young rapper as she received funding from the MOBOs and PRSF’s Women Make Music Scheme as well as winning GRM daily’s 2017 Get Rated award for which her acceptance speech was a real big-up to Brum. Lady Sanity’s beloved home city provides much of her inspiration.
She explains: “Birmingham features in a lot of tracks. You’ve got to be true to yourself.” One of Lady Sanity’s idols is fellow Brummie and former Birmingham Living cover star, Lady Leshurr who has offered some words of wisdom. “She’s such a lovely person and gives a lot of support back. Essentially, she’s doing the same as me just on a bigger scale!”
Lady Sanity joined forces with another of the city’s up-and-coming talents – who we’ve also written about – singer song-writer and beatboxer, Ed Geater. Their collaboration, Found A Place was a piece of powerful and clever hip-hop released through Brox Records which gained airplay on BBC 6 Music through Tom Robinson as well as Brum Radio and BBC Introducing.
While Lady Sanity’s love for Birmingham is clear, she accepts it still has some limitations. For instance, there aren’t many live opportunities available in the city. She explains: “Some venue promoters avoid rap and R&B genres. They aren’t keen, so it’s harder to get that experience here. We could do with an infrastructure to help artists.” Lots of people hoping to make it in the music world move to London, but Lady Sanity’s not for upping sticks. “I’ve never been tempted.”
Growing up, Lady Sanity says: “I was of those kids that kept myself to myself. I played acoustic guitar in a band at school and studied Music GCSE where I learned the technical side as well as song writing. I developed a love of hip-hop and it just grew from there.” She says music was never really a hobby as she always felt she wanted it to be a career, so when BBC Introducing spotted her potential and supported debut mixtape, Construction, it was the first step to achieving that. “That was the first big thing for me,” she says. “BBC Introducing has been a massive support.” When three slots at Glastonbury followed, Lady Sanity was over the moon. “It was crazy. I was privileged and honoured to be involved.”
Taking inspiration from the likes of Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliot, Lady Sanity has been described by the music press as ‘one of the most exciting and passionate lyricists of the moment’ with ‘lyrics that set her apart from the competition’. EP For Figures is out now with lead track, Role Models getting a lot of love. ‘Melodic’, ‘bass-thunderous’ and ‘hypnotic’ are just a few of the accolades being dished out to the track that Lady Sanity says is about ‘keeping it real to myself’.
She comments: “There’s a lot of pressure on women in music to look and carry themselves in a certain way. Role Models is about finding inspiration in the amazing people around you in your everyday life, opposed to this unrealistic, overpriced culture that’s thrown in our faces so often.”
I wonder since interviewing Lady Leshurr two years ago who made the point that being called a female rapper is weird since no one ever refers to male rappers, whether it still happens. Lady Sanity says: “It happens. It’s one of them things. I guess traditionally rapping isn’t been the most feminine of genres. There are lots of women coming through now though. We’re flying the flag!”
Lady Sanity plans to do more live shows and put out singles rather than EPs this year. “I’d like to generate my own sound with better production values.” While she’s not that comfortable with promoting herself, she recognises that PR and brand building is crucial as well, so some of her PRS Foundation funding will be spent on that. “It doesn’t come naturally, but I know if I want to get my music out there it has to come with it.”
For now, Lady Sanity’s enjoying her first trip Down Under where she’ll perform on a global stage to an estimated one billion viewers for the official Birmingham 2022 hand-over ceremony at the Carrara Stadium at the end of the current Commonwealth Games. Film maker Daniel Alexander and choreographer Rosie Kay will also be performing with further artists to be confirmed as we write. Lady Sanity says: “This is a real moment for Birmingham to show the world who we are and what our city is about and to be asked to be part of that is huge. I hope I can be a voice for young people in Brum as we invite the world to join us in 2022.”