From Lansing With Love: Local Hip Hop Artist Aims High

Thursday, October 15, 2015, 7:00 am
Emma McGinn

Local rapper L Soul, whose offstage name is Levon Reid, says “when you listen to my music, you're gonna want to do two things: you're gonna want to learn or you're gonna want to dance. You're gonna want to have fun and turn up or you're gonna just want to sit back and soak it all in. I definitely think my music, more than anything, is informative.”

Reid, a 2012 graduate of East Lansing High School, has performed at The Common Ground Festival in Lansing, MI with Machine Gun Kelly, Juicy J, Ace Hood and Big Sean and was selected by the Bob Marley family to participate in the Marley Uprising’s Top 25. He has also just released a new mixtape titled “From Lansing With Love.”

Making listeners think is central to his artistic vision. He discussed some of the themes that his music touches on, and his writing process: “I discuss a lot of positive issues and race issues. I like to be creative and I like to source other arts that inspire me. Like when I'm listening to Richie Valens. Or a certain painter, like Rubens, I like to make sure I put them in my rhymes too. So that's another thing I do, with educating people through rhymes, bringing up names they never heard of before and making them wonder 'who is that guy?'”

Reid, now 21, first started making music when he was seventeen, and has evolved his craft over the years. “My first tape was 'No Love City.' People always want to hear that side of me again, but I always tell them I can never do that side again. The thing about that tape was I was talking to myself. Now there's people that look up to me through my music. But I remember at that time it was just me in my room trapped alone just writing thousands and thousands of raps. That's why my first tape is so special to me cause that was the only tape that I dropped like that – like just me in my own head, picking my own brain apart.”

The self-reflective quality of his music, and the internal process of its creation, mean a great deal to Reid, but self-discovery inititally presented a challenge in the pursuit of his musical career. He explained the whirlwind experience following the positive reception of his first mixtape: “I didn't really even know how to make music, I just made a tape and everybody liked it. I really had to learn how to make music, I had to learn how to make songs, I had to learn how to say sh*t that sounded cool and really means something. Like it was a complete rebuilding of myself process. I really had to transform myself into a rapper, I had to create a rapper image, a rapper look. I had to change things about myself and commit to them.”

The commitment and dedication that Reid has shown to his music take a great deal of drive, and the source for his ambition is very close to home: “I attribute my drive to all the women in my family. They're ambitious, they just got hella drive always, and we got a lot of women like that in our family and my whole life looking up to that it's just been inspirational. Like my grandma waking up at 8 in the morning, just getting a little bit of breakfast before going out and working for hours and hours and coming back home, cooking for us, cleaning up and then just never sitting down. That was always my drive, like 'you don't need rest. Grandma didn't need rest.’”

Another inspiration driving Reid's musical accomplishments is a love of performance: “The first time I performed, that's when I knew that's what I wanted to do. I was on stage – I just remember I was feeling it. I remember when I got off, everyone was like 'that was dope.' They couldn't believe it was my first performance. I walked off the stage with a confident feeling that I never lost.”

Reid gurantees that attendance at one of his shows will be “the show of your life, I promise you that. I can promise you that you ain't never seen a local act put on a show like me.”

Reid has worked hard to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with on the local music scene and hopes that his talents will be soon be appreciated on a larger stage. Discussing the current state of the music industry, Reid reflected on his dissatisfaction with its superficiality, “I didn't look like this, they really wouldn't listen to me like my sister always tell me that, she always be like 'The thing that you really got is your look,' like there's a lot of people who don't even want to hear what you have to say, they just want to see you.”

When asked to detail immediate career goals, Reid explained that he’s aiming high: “I have never set any other goals than besides the first day I told myself I was...gonna win Grammys, I told myself I was gonna drop Platinum albums, and that's the only goals I have. Anything else is like, 'Damn you did that bro!' Like 'you really opened up for Talib.' Everything else is schocking to me but until I get those accompliments I feel like I ain't really accomplishing. Until I get Grammys and Platinum albums... I ain't doing sh*t [laughs].”

To find out out more abot L Soul and to hear some of his music, you may visit his website

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