Levelle London has been making waves through 2016 and is about to tsunami 2017. He’s worked with keakie favourite SNE amongst others, and is amongst the bumper crop of UK hip hop artists set to properly come through this year. He’s just released a video for pungent single “Murder My Ego (Shooter Part 2)” and it’s been getting a tonne of love and buzz all around the place, not least at Keakie. Check it out below:
This week on the Breakdown, Lauren, Alfie and Psygon were lucky enough to delve into a rich interview with Levelle, where we got a host of exclusives on “Murder My Ego” and what’s next for him, as well as a litany of exclusives from his already multi-layered undergound around and about the artistic hub of London, including supporting the US legend Mario at the O2 in 2012!
Levelle London, welcome to the Keakie Breakdown! We can tell from your twitter and your name that you’re based in London, are we right in our suspicions?
Yeah, I grew up in London, born and bred. Camden was my first borough, then I moved around from around age 16. I went to South first, then I was in East for a bit. I’ve loved everywhere I’ve lived. Everywhere had its own charms.
One of the big reasons we’re sitting down today is because you’ve recently released the video for your big track “Murder My Ego”. What does it mean to you to murder your ego?
I really wanted to better myself in life – elevate myself in my career and personal life. I reached a point where I felt like I needed to reverse some of the things I was thinking. Then I realised that this could all come under the concept to ‘murder my ego’. There’s so many things that come under “ego” and emphasising it. As I mention on the track – jealousy, selfishness, insecurity. So it wanted to get over these things by directly murdering my ego. Sending that as a message to the world and myself on this track. “Murder My Ego” is from my 8 track LP “Traits of an Empath”. That’s all centered on me being an “empath”, or someone who just naturally relates to others, feels emotional vibes. So it’s related to that.
That message really came across to us when we were watching the video and listening to the track. How important do you think it is for music and music videos to carry productive messages?
Yeah, I think its so important that you have a decided message in all your music. Music connects with people like nothing else. So when I make my music, I have to make sure it says the right thing to people.
Much of the message of this song seems to be clear out negative energy, as you rap on the track. How would recommend people clear out this negative energy?
Well I think you have to start from how you talk to yourself. I personally noticed that in the way I talked to myself and regarded myself I would put myself down a lot, often without noticing I did. So I started to consciously speak well of myself to myself. Big myself up, remind myself of what I’ve got and what I can do, and that I can do what I want to dream of. All the nice stuff basically. Then once you’ve got that good conversation with yourself, you can start to branch out. It’s about making sure that you consciously regard yourself in the right way, and then expand and help other people and the world.
That boldness and change definitely came across to us watching the video in how it’s filmed and edited. What was the creative process like making the video?
It was really interesting. “Murder my ego” in its fall name is “Shooter part 2”. This is because it’s the sequel to an earlier track and video I’ve done called “Shooter”. The video for that is quite dark, I’m quite elusive. In this I come out of that elusiveness, there’s an explosion of energy in the red hue and so on. A lot of the shots are lighter, I have people with me. Each frame is saturated with new meaning. There’s a shot with me and candles- meditating, moving forward. Behind me in one of the shots, if you look closely, “Acts of kindness” is written on a wall. The video is full of that kind of energy.
We’ve seen that you produced “Murder My Ego” as well as rapping on it. We hear all sorts of influences coming through on the production. Trap, even some reggae rhythms. What influences you as an artist on this track and generally?
Yeah, my sound is influenced a lot by the Jamaican presence in London. My dad’s Jamaican and my mum’s Ghanaian. That’s influenced me a lot in the sounds I use, and also how I rap. I will naturally say stuff in certain twangs on different tracks, using those influences to make the best track possible.
There’s something really performative and raw about your flow on “Murder My Ego”. How does your songwriting process normally work?
I do everything in my room. I’ll be chilling with somewhere there, and usually just start bouncing ideas. A lot the songs I write often will come completely from conversations I’ll have that day. I won’t even know it as well, I’ll just write the track and then realise after that it’s just a sonic expression of what that moment was about. For “Murder My Ego”, I had a fair amount of the beat and a choir, and I started writing about youth first actually. Then the ideas that we’ve talked about for “Murder My Ego” just came into my head and I started writing about those straightaway instead. The second half of the across I performed pretty much off the top of my head. I noticed how raw it sounded immediately, but then I left it like that, because it really gave the song a strong energy.
So we know you’ve been working with people like SNE and other exciting artists in the UK music industry right now. How have these collaborations come about?
To start with I used to regularly holler people I wanted to work with. But really every time I’ve worked with someone it’s just naturally come about, from getting to them and so on – always at the right time, never forced. With SNE, I’d been talking to this amazingly talented RnB singer Taliwhoah. We’d been talking about a track for ages. Then when we finished the track, we were thinking about getting a feature, and I just naturally thought “What about SNE?”. We managed to get him on board, and since then I’ve seen him at shows and stuff and it’s all been love. Previously I’d wanted to work with SNE before, but it just didn’t happen. It was no hard feelings. It’s just the way it goes – it nearly always happens at the right time.
Listen to the track Levelle’s talking about -Taliwhoah - Fast FWD Ft Levelle London & SNE- below
On the Keakie Breakdown today we’re discussing big stages and platforms as the grammys loom. What’s your opinion on how artists should treat these stages and platforms in 2017?
I think it depends on the type of artist and what kind of music they make. Let’s go back to 2010, I had the fantastic opportunity to support Mario on the O2 stage. It was an amazing experience, and I learnt so much, and it got my name out there. But afterwards I realised I really didn’t have the right story to show people who would have seen me and then looked me up. Would I be prepared to give them what they wanted? At that time, not really. So I recommend that artists should make sure they have good content, a good story sorted, and then reach for these stages. These stages and platforms are the things we all strive for, and we should aim for them. However, we should build up on the intimate shows. Those are often the most difficult. Once you conquer those intimate shows, you will be prepared to really rock the crowd when you go on the big stages.
Check out Levelle London’s full project “Traits of an empath” below. Remember to tune into the Keakie Breakdown on Wizard Radio 7pm every Saturday to be the first to hear more of these interviews from a host of exciting artists in the next few weeks.
Discover More CategoriesUK Hip Hop