Lisa Mercedez isn’t totally new to all this. If you know dancehall then you’ll likely know her name already, given that she became the de-facto first lady of the London scene back in 2005 when she joined Stylo G’s Warning Crew as the sole female member. But there’s no denying that the last couple of years have seen the Jamaica-born artist take things to a whole new level; making her way out of the underground and onto radio sets, freestyles, and an array of eclectic releases that go beyond the classic dancehall sound.
“I can jump on any beat. I’ll jump on a hip-hop beat or a grime beat and you can still hear that Jamaican sound coming from me.” If that statement suggests arrogance on Lisa’s part, that couldn’t be further from how she comes across throughout our conversation. It is, after all, simply a statement of fact. You can hear her on Drake’s ‘0-100’ beat for a 1Xtra freestyle, on ‘Bodak Yellow’ for her own dancehall remix, or spitting fierce bashment lyrics over vintage Preditah grime production on single ‘Badness’.
Make no mistake, dancehall runs through her veins. The most recent show she played was the London takeover from legendary label Mixpak, whose success at the 2016 Red Bull Culture Clash acted as something of a touchpoint for the global dancehall scene. Their emphatic victory saw them topple giants of grime, garage and hip-hop, earning themselves hordes of new fans along the way; helped in no small part by that Drake dubplate.
The name Lisa Mercedez might also ring a bell to some for a slightly less positive reason, by virtue of her being one of the only three women on this year’s Wireless Festival poster - the no-men mock-up of which did the rounds on social media earlier this year. “As a woman we have to work ten times as hard as the guys to make it,” she says, “and I’m really happy that all the females coming through right now are killing it. So big up to them.”
So what comes next? Not long after that Wireless appearance, there’s the small matter of a first-ever solo headline show in London - a new chapter in the on-going story of the exciting artist, and one that she certainly doesn’t seem particularly phased by. Beyond that a European tour is in the works, alongside some particularly big news, which, we’re assured, will all become clear soon enough.
Lisa Mercedez is a woman on a mission, and Clash knows for a fact that we wouldn’t want to be the ones to try and stop her.
WHAT: Fierce dancehall with a UK flavour
WHERE: London (via Jamaica)
GET 3 SONGS: ‘No Disturbance’, ‘Badness’, ‘Waste Man’
FACT: Always a fan of a brightly coloured barnet, aged 10 she tried to dye her hair red using Kool-Aid
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Words: James Kilpin
Photography: Sophie Mayanne
Fashion: Josh Tuckley
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