For Fans Of: Joy Crookes, JGrrey, IAMDDB
West London’s Lava La Rue is redefining UK rap on her own terms.
Named as one to watch by The Guardian last summer, 21-year-old Ava Laurel (also know as Aiwa Laurél) uses the phonetical English spelling to create the anagram for her rap moniker. She was placed in foster care from 14-18 but prior to that she lived with a musically diverse family that celebrated their Jamaican heritage along with their love for rave culture. At age 16, she coped with being in care through music, transitioning from being in a band to experimenting with spoken word. Her college life also prompted her approach to music as she told Dazed about her music class which was full of now-successful and rising musicians from Dave and Biig Piig to members of Goat Girl and King Nun.
In this class she found an eclectic group of likeminded artists, musicians and producers who would go on to form NiNE8; a musical and visual arts collective named after the year several members were born. As a collective, NiNE8 create everything from music and clothes to art and parties. She said of the time, “I was really into writing poetry and I read some to my friend Lloyd ‘Mac Wetha’ McDonald, who was like ‘you should try this over some of the beats I’ve been making.'” Collaborating with members of the collective, Lava created her first mixtape, Lavaland, in 2017, which took lyrics from diary extracts around the time she moved to Surbiton. Mixing raw spoken word with experimental production, she created her own distinctive yet genreless style. To this day Lava still directs her own videos and releases music through NiNE8, a self-sufficient ecosystem embodying the DIY spirit of the subcultures her parents belonged to.
A short 3 month stint in Tokyo in the summer of 2017 also helped develop Lava’s growing sound as she met Japanese producer Disk Nagataki and his crew Tokyo Vitamin. Within just one day of their meeting, she’d already recorded ‘Widdit’, the first song from her debut EP Lectra, at the collective’s studio. When she returned to London, she completed the release with another four tracks that matched ‘Widdit’s 90s R&B vs UK hip-hop edge and showcases her fierce politicised wordplay and musical dexterity.
Her next musical venture was a another, more advanced tape titled Stitches, released in September 2019. For this collection, she took inspiration from more classical names, saying “I think a lot about legends like Grace Jones and Prince, who are my two biggest influences, they made absolute bangers you wanted to play at parties, whilst also being politically rebellious. I’ve always hated the idea that a song can either be political and underrated, or super catchy and really ignorant, but commercially successful. I want to show with my music that you can do both.” Clash rated the hot release 8/10, quoting “With elements of R&B intertwined in a predominantly hip-hop space, Lava flows confidently through contrasting speeds and has no problem keeping the listener attentive.”
Lava La Rue has made a name for herself from her London borough all the way to Japan, and won’t stop until every other continent has caught up.
Lava La Rue will perform at Bussey Building as part of AMP London on 5th March.amp london / introducing / lava la rue