Categories: Blog, News, Spotlight, The XX Factor
We at The XX Factor had the privilege of speaking with hip hop/spoken word artist Lyssen. Check it out!
Hello! So excited to speak with you! First up, a few bio questions! Where are you from?
Lyssen: Chicago is my hometown, but I have been blessed to live in various major cities throughout the U.S. Including New York City and now Los Angeles.
How did you begin writing and recording?
Lyssen: I actually came up with my first poem in the middle of an argument. After reading my thoughts on paper, I thought it was so dope that I found a poetry competition that same week! I just knew it was worth people hearing and I was right, because I won that competition before many of the other contestants even got a chance to perform. That experience gave me so much confidence to write more and perform more and within months I had a buzz throughout Phoenix, where I lived at the time. During that phase I was noticed by Flipmode Squad member, Rampage and he introduced me to the business side of music. My wordplay, concepts and stage performance often had people requesting me to rap so I tested those skills and Wala- Magic! *laughs*. I wanted to build a new audience so I packed up and move to Philly and then New York City where I recorded my first poetry-rap album, The Unspoken Word.
How did your environment growing up influence you and your music?
Lyssen: Chicago influenced me because it created a sense of survival and the need of having to understand people. Learning people’s motives and understanding why they are the way they are. Growing up in Chicago also encouraged a strong sense of family, loyalty, and values. Even with the darkness of the city, there’s still a soulful spirit that runs through Chicago and I’ve learned that it stays with you no matter where you go. My family splitting and moving to California influenced opportunity during some of the lowest points of life. Because we didn’t have our Dad, it created a sense of strength and independence for me and my brothers. All of this has an impact on what I write and why I’m passionate about it being heard.
Tell me, your music reflects both hip hop and spoken word or poetry. What is the writing process for that like?
Lyssen: I’m usually coming up with song ideas in the middle of conversations. I love to talk, so conversation really gets me going. I’ll catch myself making a catchy statement (that might sometimes rhyme), on any type of topic and I’ll turn it into a hook. So we could be talking and all of a sudden i’ll start rapping my point across. *laughs*. Once I’m clear on the concept, I work with my producer, Travis Oscar to create music that fits. Then I baby talk my flow around the beat. I know its weird – I know – I know its weird *laughs* but seriously that’s how I figure out how my flow needs to wrap around the music. Once I got my concept and rhythm down, the words just come to me.
There is a unique perspective on the industry and hip hop that women, especially artist’s like you and I, have. Could you tell me what you have experienced as a woman in hip hop, and what you think of the industry currently?
Lyssen: I’ve experienced a lot of doubt around what my image should promote and what I’ve actually chosen to stand in the front of my brand. Based on how I look, many people assume that the only way for me to get ahead is to promote what’s on the outside instead of what I have to give from what’s inside. Some people don’t understand why I put my words in front of the exotic fantasy I could create, but when they get the opportunity to Lyssen they can’t help but truly love it because its not fantasy… its all real and I choose to represent that through being a graceful image. It matters because I care how I’m talked about based upon what I represent.
It’s crazy how much doubt of lyrics selling would exist in Hip Hop but I’m a faithful person, so I believe what is meant for me is already written. Doubt and hate only exist to push me closer to destiny. When it comes to the industry, although I feel like women are taking over in music and entertainment, better quality material from all artists is in high demand. The people are challenging artists and entertainers to make better use of our talent, so I feel pretty secure in my soulful movement.
What do you hope to do with your music?
Lyssen: I hope that my music inspires people to grow and have fun doing it, no matter what phase of life they are in. I also hope for my story to serve as proof that it can be done. I want the stories that I tell in music to expand to more songs, poetry, books, movies, and even generate conversations.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Lyssen: I would like my philosophy of self-awareness, self-growth, and self-happiness to be my legacy so that people understand that they along with spirituality have the power of making their life worth living. And that creativity through any channel helps supports the journey.
Who inspires you? Whether musically or just in life.
Lyssen: I have a few people that inspire me for different reasons. I’m really inspired by people’s testimonies. Whether good or bad, their journey and life experiences inspire me to tell a story that they can identify with. 2Pac inspires me with his poetic lyrics and his passion to exceed in the game of life. Queen Latifah for being the only female rapper to create a full brand that is in front and behind the scenes of entertainment. Maya Angelou for the wisdom she translates through words. I hope to be able to communicate that same wisdom through a younger generation. Hearing her speak gives me hope of how many people I can actually touch, even if their’s no music or a hook behind it. Michael Jackson, Prince, and Stevie Wonder inspire me to know that when music and words are put together, it can create magic! Even when the world is in some of it’s darkest places.
The rapper Lecrae for me is confirmation that God is ahead of everything! Lastly, my family inspires me to strive for whatever makes me happy, because they say it ensures their happiness. *smiles* This question is actually very inspiring!
This is your time! Anything you want to make sure that the people know? Maybe more about this upcoming album? Thanks so much for talking with me!
Lyssen: I would like to thank my new and loyal fans for believing in my seed that’s growing. I also want to thank the people that look away for various subconscious reasons because it only makes me want to be bigger so that I can’t be missed. I want to let people know that this album is my heart and my personality displayed through music. So if you’re ever curious to what I’m thinking during this journey and what I’m like day to day, just take time to Lyssen. And thank The XX Factor for your movement and being a positive light in this path!
This new release, No Name, not only shows Lyssen’s versatility and creativity to make standout records, but also gives a raw description of the mental difficulties of self-doubt and the need to push through and live out your dreams. A stylistically different melody of rock, rap, and poetry produced by Travis Oscar launches the return of Lyssen and sets high expectations for her second album.