WLJ Presents Lady MC: Tackling the Concrete Jungle

WLJ Presents Lady MC: Tackling the Concrete Jungle

When questioned on her upbringing, Kerry O’Brien, is typically understated. “We all have our own challenges growing up.” Although her career has undoubtedly been shaped by past experience, it doesn’t define her ash artist. . She has used her life experiences to fuel both a successful career in music as acclaimed Jungle artist Lady MC, and the tireless work with the charity she founded and manages, London Urban Arts Academy (LUAA)

Kerry’s career as Lady MC has led her around the world, working with legendary artists like Afrika Bambaataa and Rebel MC. She was awarded Best Female MC in 2012 and became an unofficial spokesperson for women in the industry as one of the first established female MCs. While discussing the state of the industry with a group of young women she realised that she could use this platform to help people. “My work with young people was almost subconscious. Lots of situations drew me to working with kids.” Kerry and her LUAA partner David Boomah (also an acclaimed singer songwriter who’s had numerous number 1 singles) recognised the effect music had on their own lives and wanted to harness it to help others. “It allows me and other people to say what you want, you’re not having a conversation you’re putting it through a different channel but still saying what you want to say.”

There is a distinct connection between Kerry and the young people she works with. She had an impressive appearance on Dragon’s Den in 2011 with a previous youth arts project. Despite being unsuccessful with funding she impressed the ‘Dragons’. Like these shrewd investors she recognises a trait in these kids. “If you can relate you can make such a difference. if they can see you doing something successful they can see themselves doing that too.”

As with many in the third sector though there have been huge difficulties in recent years under a Conservative government. “They have absolutely no interest in helping people build their confidence or skills if if doesn’t lead to paying taxes and reducing their unemployment statistics they don’t care. Its been challenging times over the past 18 months with all of our funding cut, councils slashing services, removing youth services from local authorities, it’s getting really difficult. They don’t do anything to help.” A lot of this frustration with modern life and politics can be seen in Lady MC lyrics. “A lot of my songs are about current affairs and whats going on for me at that moment, like most artists, using it as a medium to get if off our chests” “For a long time LUAA has been the priority in my life, which left me with very little time to create music. I feel responsible to stand up for young people and to give them the equal opportunities to creatively express themselves using music which empowers and saves lives. I started to realise though, that I have a responsibility for myself too, to be that role model for them and for my own freedom for expression. I have to be doing both equally giving to myself and others.” Now back in the studio Lady MC is taking time to concentrate on her own music with a new EP, “It’s not my usual D’n’B or Jungle style. Although it would be criminal not to have a few remixes in there though.” Doing something different and quite experimental DJ Krust has been on the buttons on the production of a couple of the tracks, combining beats. spoken word and poetry, the project is called Indigo. One of the spoken word pieces I’m working with Christina Andrea, a well-established choreographer who works on a lot of music TV projects, the video is based around balance, gender balance, work, class balance. Quite an interesting educational EP getting people thinking about life, conscious concepts, about what balance means to them.’ In many ways Lady MC’s world is all about creating that balance. The balance between work and life, between charity and her own music, it is through her work that she’s seeking to rebalance the inequalities that exist in communities and with the young people she resonates so much with.

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