Hip-hop is undoubtedly one of the most popular music genres in 2017. With the ever- growing popularity of artists such as Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar and Drake to name but a few, we’re hearing more and more hip-hop tracks on the radio, on Spotify and on clubnights. We sent one of Evade’s entertainment correspondents, Rebecca Thompson to interview Vas Leon, a musician hailing from London. Read on to discover the anthems of his childhood, the changing hip-hop scene in London and his exciting new release!
Rebecca: Firstly, which artists would you cite as having the biggest influence in your music - what were the anthems of your childhood?
Vas Leon: Oh wow! This question is always hard as I have so many! Haha. MJ has always been one of the first ones. Dude was so legendary. I proper looked up to him when I was young, wanting to Moonwalk since I was 3! I remember I even had the leather boots like in the BAD video haha! Bad, Smooth Criminal, Beat It, but most of all BILLIE JEAN were definitely my anthems. Stevie Wonder Isn’t she lovely. ALWAYS a massive favourite. Those two I cannot fault in music. Not at all! Tupac … Self-explanatory. I started my journey as a poet myself! Erm… there’s so many but to keep it short THIS TIME.. haha.. I’ll say those three.
Rebecca: Having grown up in London, I know first-hand that it's a city brimming with culture and diversity – how would you say London has helped to shape and develop your musical style? Vas Leon: Funny thing is, London has made me work harder, that’s all. In terms of my musical style it hasn’t shaped me at all. A lot of people in London didn’t really accept me at first to be honest. At that point, I definitely decided to continue to do my own thing with my own style. So the help it gave me… was determination! To succeed doing whatever it is I love without conforming to the style or various styles that other people in the industry use. I developed with the people around me and the same music and artists that brought me up.
Rebecca: How would you say the London hip-hop scene has changed in the past 5 years, and why? Vas Leon: I remember when Rodney was about, music was so different! Right now, I think it’s just moved to trap. I’m not sure if it was because of the American influence, but all I know is it’s moving back to the time we are just expressing. You might hear a lot of violence but it really does happen, so they talk about it. And if they’re the guys who can pay for PR for everyone to listen and hear it… That’s what you’re going to hear. I think it’s changed in the way there is quite a lot of disrespect to women especially when I hear “side chick” a lot, but outside of that there is a lot of talent coming through, and with artists like Wretch 32 some people really are expressing a different kind of art.
Rebecca: What future changes would you like to see in the hip-hop scene in London, or the UK more widely? Vas Leon: I’d like to see people speak more freely, and not conforming to everything else they see or hear. I’d like to see people work together more, and not just musically… but motivating each other. It seems there’s this ego thing where everyone wants to be better than everyone else. I understand talking about it, it’s what we do in music. Haha. We are supposed to big ourselves up in music! But outside of it all, it’s much better to empower each other and support each other more and especially on the come up. Not when you’ve already seen the success. Not jumping on the bandwagon. There are really important reasons why I try my best to make sure I tweet a positive message everyday. I won’t get into it now, but it’s important and more important than people realise!
Rebecca: What is your favourite city or venue which you have performed in, and why? Vas Leon: Ooooooo this is not easy! Favourite venue may have been Brixton O2. Damn. With FatBoySlim… That was so crazy! He has some crazy fans! Haha. In a good way! They vibe so much! They want to have a good time, and … I don’t know, it was just so inexplicable. Such an amazing night! One I will never forget. And I love London. That’s my home! So where else could I say?! Haha. I will mention Miami though. I remember I was in a Cypher in Miami… Shoe Gallery to be exact. Damn… even though it was a cypher and didn’t have a wide audience like that… it was so amazing. I was so happy. So, so happy. Unleashing what I was feeling in my heart onto the mic and everyone enjoying it and vibing with me. That was amazing. Any feeling like that, real love… is where I am at best!
Rebecca: Where does your inspiration for lyrics stem from – what do you most enjoy writing about? Vas Leon: Ahhhhh … nowhere! Haha. Nah I’m playing, everywhere! I write about what I experience! I write about what I truly feel and I write about what I live! Sometimes I tell people’s story for them, like let’s be real “Hold me down” is impossible to be about me! Haha. I enjoy writing about what I feel because it’s a release for me. I get things off my chest that way. I may not always release all the tracks but it helps.
Rebecca: Who would your dream musical collaboration be with, and why? Vas Leon: Dead or alive? Haha. I have no idea. Errrrmmm… Okay, Imagine a track. Stevie Wonder on the chorus, Me, J. Cole, Logic, Kanye on the verses, Dr Dre on the track with some influence of DJ Khaled. POWERFUL! Haha. That’s a random one! If it could include people who have passed, it would be with Nate Dogg, Stevie, MJ, Tupac and Prodigy (Mobb Deep).
Rebecca: What song or album have you got on repeat right now? Vas Leon: Actually, I have four on repeat right now. Pretty much one every day at LEAST. Haha. Stages –VAS LEON (I’m serious lol), True To Self – Bryson Tiller, 4:44 – Jay Z and Free 6lack – 6lack. Maaaaaaan. Haha. If you get in my car and one of those aren’t playing… I’ve just got a million and connected your phone to my stereo! Haha.
Rebecca: You frequently post inspirational and positive quotations on your Twitter page – what would you say to anyone whose positivity has been affected by recent events in the UK and the wider world? Vas Leon: I’d say keep your head up, always look forward to brighter things, and don’t focus on the negative. Make everyone else’s mistakes a lesson for you and not for it to put hatred and evil into your own heart. Don’t let anything make you crumble. You are your most important project, work on yourself.
Rebecca: Have you got any new music, gigs or other events coming up that you'd like to let our readers know about? Vas Leon: Yesssss!! Loads of stuff coming out so check my Twitter, Instagram, website weekly! Stages is a really really dope release coming out soon, as well as others! Amazing visuals and loads more to look forward to! Go back, listen to Krossover, and also pre-order Stages! http://vasleon.lnk.to/stages!
You can find Vas Leon on the following social media platforms: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thisisvasleon/ Twitter: @thisisvasleon Instagram: @thisisvasleon Website: www.vasleon.com