I got an unexpected email a couple of weeks from an artist who wanted her new project covered. The EP is called 22, and just a short few months I covered a short film, that she was a part of “The Word of The Day: TRIANGULATE A Short Film by Pattern Nation”. All the way from Johannesburg, Lex LaFoy, a female emcee who has been doing it for 15 years and counting, gave me a taste of what’s going on South of the African Continent. Boy, were we glad she reach out to us, as I explored her new project, 6 tracks produced by the Congolese/Joburg producer and artist Marco Benz, I got a sense of a voice that leaned towards empowerment and I wanted to learn more.
1)Tell us who Lex LaFoy is?
Born Ash-Leigh La Foy, I started freestyling songs as a child. The moment I became literate I started writing songs, poems and stories. In school I had a singing group I’d write songs for and arrange performances we’d do in assembly and at functions. In 2004 while doing my final year at high school, I discovered the wider Hip Hop community in my beautiful coastal city, Durban. This opened an entire new world to me. Finding other creatives who rap, breakdance, spray-paint and beatbox. From 2005-2013, I performed under the moniker Lexikon. After high school I studied at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal doing a Social Degree majoring in Psychology and Philosophy. It was in this environment my love for learning and language expanded. A lot of the content I wrote on reflected my immersement in academics, consciousness and spirituality. In 2012 I relocated to Johannesburg, known as the New York of South Africa. Creatively I yearned for newness and growth, so I changed my name to Lex LaFoy. Having shortened Lexikon, and added my surname. Lex LaFoy is a true South African, reflective of our rich diversity. My father is of Xhosa and Dutch heritage, while my mom is of Cantonese and St Helenian heritage.
2) You’ve mentioned you started becoming known as a rapper and slam poetry artist in 2004. What made you start your career in Hip Hop? Is there a big Hip Hop/Poetry scene in Durban?
LaFoy: I’m a born writer with a love for music and performance. I respect my craft as a gift, knowing I wasn’t taught this gift but am born with it. Having written from the moment I became literate, I had no idea there was an entire industry and culture called Hip Hop. It was only when I grew older and fell in love with rappers like Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, Lil Kim, Goddessa and others that I began to see a place for this craft I love so much. Durban is one of three major cities in South Africa. We’re on the East Coast. Although our industry isn’t as developed as cosmopolitan Johannesburg, my city is known for giving the world some of the best talent. Artists like Nasty C, Babes Wodumo, Busiswa and OkMalumKoolKat are proof of the creative genius my coastal city represents.
3) With your music and sound, there is a strong and empowered voice. How do you think it serves in your community and you as an artist?
LaFoy: As a young South African woman, I stand to empower my people through representing a freedom of Self. Although Apartheid technically ended in 1994, we South Africans are left to resolve and heal from the psychological trauma the previous regime was designed to create. As people of colour, our parents and grandparents were raised in an oppressive system that not only made it illegal to flourish and go where they want, do what they want and be who they want. The system instilled a mental form of oppression, that left us feeling inferior according to our skin colour. I want people to see me and know that we are great beyond our skin colour. That race doesn’t predetermine intelligence. That background doesn’t predetermine ability. I stand to empower the dreamers, the Indigo kids, the lovers and the spiritual. I want people to see me and know it’s ok to be a combination of elements and still feel whole. To be enlightened and light. To be informed and happy. Consciousness doesn’t necessarily equate to heaviness. I want to encourage people to break free from meaningless culture and false beliefs. I want people to be free to be themselves. To love themselves. To take charge of their minds and thoughts and only give their energy to that which serves them along their journey to Self-Actualization.
4) Amazing you got to travel with the All-Female Purple Velvet Tour, and performed in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. What is the one thing you got from that experience and brought back home with you to South Africa?
LaFoy: I came back mad inspired to do the same in my country. To push for females in music in South Africa too. Having been independent for so long, being on tour with a team gave me a sense of what having a team feels like. I’ve since started working more with my closest artist friends, who are sisters to me, not just colleagues. I like having a tight circle of people who share the same values. People I can grow with.
5) Your project “22” has a great mix of melodies and has a nice touch of RnB. What was your focus creating it and what would you like your listeners to get from it?
LaFoy: Honestly, I had just released my debut album “Honey Bass” a few months before, and wasn’t even looking to start something new. I had moved back home for the release, to spend time re-centering myself. Grounding myself. Remembering my intention in music and learning focus. I had formed a DJ collective and was working on a men’s health project with the NGO I work with called Show Me Your Number. Having started learning how to DJ, I began listening to more music, looking for stuff to play I came across some new wave RnB Soul. Artists like Myles Cameron helped me enter a space where I received music as a listener again and not just a creator. In the music I started enjoying and playing, it was a certain feeling I was chasing. I started understanding what Kanye meant by “I want all the rain, I want all the pain”. As an emotional being, I realized that I love to feel and I love music that makes me feel. Almost Emo. But not. I discovered a love for emotion itself and wanted to make music that moved me. I was up
in Joburg for a meeting when in a divinely aligned moment, I met Marco Benz – a young Congolese graphic design student, model and producer. The day I met him and walked into the studio, he was playing the exact sound I wanted. We created the song Trust (Track 1 on 22) and I asked if I could do an entire EP. He sent me links to his beat drive and we spent the rest of the time working correspondence between Durban and Joburg. If anything, I want my listeners to simply feel when listening to 22. We’ve got so much reprogramming to do regarding the value of emotions. I created a project that healed me amidst all the challenges I was facing at the time. So I hope it can heal others. Knowing it’s ok to be vulnerable. It’s ok to know your
needs and voice them. It’s ok to let go. It’s ok to change your mind and it’s ok to be true to one’s Self.
Me: Amen to that! Yes we are so mislead by our view of our emotions and we have to relearn what they mean more so for ourselves!
6) What is next on the horizon for Lex LaFoy?
LaFoy: We’re halfway on a collab project with three other amazing South African artists- Otarel, InspektahGadget and Reverb360. The project is called The In Laws and it’s just got hit after hit. I’m releasing a video for “Good Good” as well as a couple of other really dope singles and collabs this year. I’ve started focusing more on my company Heartistree Productions too. It’s the entity through which I release my music. I’m also working on attracting my first manager. Having been independent for 15 years (doing the work of an entire team), I need someone to help promote me while I get to practice a healthy work-life balance. Being a mom to my 11 year old daughter is beautiful. I just want to be able to spend more time with her.
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Take a listen to the new project, 22 here on Spotify. Feel free to listen to Lex LaFoy’s discography. You won’t be disappointed!
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