Amber London: The Woman Who Would Be the Queen of Underground
I’ve personally been covering Houston music for close to a decade, with four years making it before that. It occurred to me as I was listening to Slim K’s chopped-and-screwed version of 19-year-old rapper Amber London’s “Low MF Key,” that I had literally never heard a female rapper chopped before. It’s that rare, and it makes you view the whole approach in a new and interesting way that may keep chopped relevant as Screw becomes an ever-more-distant memory.
Born and raised in Houston, London grew up on Screw’s mixtapes and stepped on stage for the first time in a young artist showcase at the Miller Outdoor Theater at the age of 13. Despite being fairly unknown and as yet unsigned she’s managed to rack up a sizable audience on YouTube. Videos for songs like “Texas Phonk 1998” and “Servin Fiendz” have netted more than a half-million views.
In a time where most mainstream rap is going for a more artistic and experimental direction London is as old school as it comes. Her beats are generally minimalist with good, if sparse, production. She flows like a punk guitar solo, hitting rhymes with a tattoo-needle delivery and smoldering rage. In fact, anger makes up a significant portion of her delivery, with a good chunk of her lyrics being long diatribes on exactly how deep she can put you in the ground (figuratively) if you cross her.
“Every emotion is valid, you know what I’m saying?” says London. “People want songs that help them feel comfortable with those emotions. I have a hard exterior. I want to be the music for women to listen to when the need to feel like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to get you if you mess with me.’ Everyone needs that.”
London has a lot of goals, including in her own words to be “legendary,” but more than that she’s keen to help break up the boy’s club that is rap and expose people to more women in the genre. She admits that she often gets a shocked reaction when she performs, with many of her peers seeming to be quite perplexed that she can hold her own on the mic.
“I want to change what I see in music today,” says London. “I want to open minds to female rappers. That’s an open lane, the [chopped and screwed] sound I’m doing.”
Before summer is over, London is supposed to be dropping her Underground Queen mixtape, and she continues to release all over the internet. Some people consider online interactions to be detrimental to art but London revels in it as a tool to hone her craft.
“If you do something and you’re good then people’s reactions will always tell you if you should keep doing it,” says London.
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