Rapper Lex Lafoy on Unifying South Africa's Hip Hop Scene

Ep 5: Sassy Souls with Cyd Eva and Lex Lafoy



South African rapper Lex Lafoy is using her skills as a writer and creative project manager to shake up the Durban hip-hop scene. Having entered the industry in her late teens, Lex has spent her adult life moving between cities connecting with new artists, and spreading her creative message.



Using her voice to encourage connectivity, joy, and unity, Lex Lafoy embodies the very essence of hopefulness. What we hear sweeping through her music is a wave of powerful lyricism, turning these ideas into beats to dance to, energising her audience. In this way, Lex is setting a magical example for younger generations to look up to. Alongside her music, she is currently writing her second children's book, as well as hosting her weekly show 'Wealth and Wellness' on Durban Youth Radio.


Tune into this special conversation as Lex unwraps the realities of South African life. We hear her talk with Sassy Souls host Cyd Eva about the essential role education plays in racial and gender equality. Accompanied by five tracks Lex Lafoy introduces us to from her latest album 'New World Daughter'.


 


Throughout her childhood, Lex Lafoy spent time creating songs, poetry, and short stories, continually finding new ways to engage her love of writing. It was in her early teens that she started to become inspired by music from artists like Lauryn Hill, Little Kim, and Foxy Brown. Falling in love with hip-hop culture became a solitary passion until Lex was 17 years old and learned about the wider hip-hop scene in Durban."Before then I felt so alone, I would listen to the music and have little dance rehearsals in my room. But when I discovered the scene...it was so fulfilling meeting people who loved creating like I loved creating." Inspired by the montage of music, art, and dance, it has been a 16-year journey of Lex incorporating her writing skills and passion to create a career that she loves. Today, she uses her multitude of skills to organise events and manage creative projects with a host of people and brands; reflecting her passion and drive to never give up.


Writing is my gift...and when people often search for their purpose or gift, the answer I give to them is 'It's the thing you do most naturally, the thing you love doing'


When discussing the challenges she has faced, Lex explains how "Noone outside of yourself can see your vision so there are definitely times where your loved ones or family tell you to get a normal job'!" But Lex explains how her idea of a career is far more than simply finding a 9-5 job."It's this incremental lifelong growing journey where every year you get better, you master your skill". This approach continually allows Lex to prosper in her career, never limiting herself from expanding in her craft and dreaming bigger.



Lex's dedication to improving and practicing her art is carefully echoed in her role as a mother. "As we grow, I realise it's not just about me, I want to contribute towards society positively in the form of developing a healthy family". This focus on nurturing younger generations contextualises Lex's recent project of writing children's books, expanding her creativity in multiple ways. Having published her first book 'Queen Shalabeama and the Star Children', Lex is currently working on her second story, inspiring youngsters through stories of creative encouragement. Reflecting the abundance of avenues Lex is joyfully moving through to spread her creative magic.


It's important for me to be part of female collaborations that create safe spaces for us as women. To be part of projects that focus on our unity rather than our difference and how we can really strengthen the scene rather than shoot each other down


Having been based in Johannesburg, Lex moved back to Durban to be close to her loved ones and daughter. This move came with a whole wave of new opportunities, beginning with the release of 'Aybo', a track Lex featured on with two other female rappers from the East Coast in Durban. When discussing this project, Lex expresses her passion for working with other women in the arts. She explains how "we have a mutual understanding about our vulnerabilities as women. It's important for me to be part of female collaborations that create safe spaces for us as women. To be part of projects that focus on our unity rather than our difference and how we can really strengthen the scene rather than shoot each other down." This sense of unity continually features in Lex's approach to work, as well as her philosophy on life.



When asking Lex about the inspiration behind her outlook on life, she credits her mixed heritage of being Black, Caucasian, and Asian, for giving her a very well-rounded perspective. This is something that shines through in all areas of her career, explaining how "I'm just reminding people that we're all human. This whole racial division thing - it's boring. It doesn't serve us.... we are so many things beyond the colour of our skin, we are intelligent, innovative, creative minds and I want to bring more focus to that." Having seen many of her cousins emigrate to other countries, Lex reflects on how staying in the country has made her stronger and more resilient. "I don't think I'd have the heart for development and growth and positive social change if I hadn't grown up in South Africa. Seeing people struggle, experiencing struggle oneself just develops my empathy and human relation more." There is no doubt how much compassion Lex radiates, forever driving forward positive change and raising awareness for equal opportunities.


We are so many things beyond the colour of our skin, we are intelligent, innovative, creative minds and I want to bring more focus to that.


This is something that shines through when hearing Lex discuss her relationship to the movement of feminism. "I was very passionate about feminism in its purest ideal. Right now, I choose not to ascribe to it because of the hate I've seen taint the beautiful purity of what feminism stood for". Lex dissects this by explaining how the man-hating approach she has witnessed coming from the West is something that divides people. Causing pain and hatred rather than support and unity. This philosophy is deeply embedded in the majority of Lex's work, continually using her music to touch on such topics and relay more peaceful messages.


Her latest album, 'New World Daughter', is a beautiful example of how Lex is spreading these ideas. She explains how it's a reference to the pandemic resulting in a new world order.; "how there are all these challenges we are facing but on the other hand, there are also positive things that are happening to us. We, as human beings through collective struggle, are developing more empathy and connectivity". Talking to the new human being, Lex is encouraging people to identify with their family, their creativity, the creator to become more whole and stable. As she puts it, "moving away from what we can't control and, instead, holding onto our joy and peace... and adaptability". Offering us an insight into the calm resilience Lex appears to manifest.


Coming from a political history where at one stage it was illegal to love someone of a different skin colour - I'm just out here trying to be all of me.


This makes us aware of Lex's authentic approach to using creativity as a form of liberated livelihood. It is from this place of freely expressing herself that Lex discusses the role sensuality and sexuality play in her life and music. "I was raised with a very liberal mum, I've always felt the freedom to dress how I wanted to dress, to love who I want to love, to be who I want to be and it's not been easy as a South African young woman because... a large part of our society is still very conservative. Whether it be through cultural or religious norms." Lex explains how it isn't always possible to walk safely through a city in South Africa dressed in shorts and a crop top. "For me, the mere act of being oneself and expressing oneself becomes a political action, a revolutionary action. In a context where people want and praise conformity." There are still many forms of oppression that Lex is fighting and advocating for the bettering of education.