Lava La Rue – Letra

In West London lurks a young artist who’s grabbing life by the horns and running with it. Lava La Rue, formally known as Ava Laurel, is a 20-year-old rapper making art out of nothing. Having an industry connection is an asset many upcoming creatives thrive on, but the lack of the latter wasn’t integral to her journey. The beauty behind creativity is that you can create something by making the most out of anything. A large bag of cash isn’t something inherent amongst most artist at the start of their journey. So a lot of music videos are shot on a small budget, Octavian’s Party Here was particularly shot for £50. Nowadays, all you need is a vision and a do-it-yourself ethos to make viral video. And with her new EP titled Letra, Lava La Rue brings her homespun sound to life.

The five track offering opens with a distorted vocal sample cut from a vintage Angela Davis interview, circa 1972. It’s laid over a droopy, chopped up and skewed arrangement which organically transitions into a short verse from Lava La Rue. DES_K_TOP is a lengthy intro and Lava La Rue seizes the opportunity to offload on a series of topics. Oozing a stream of consciousness with a delivery reminiscent of Erykah Badu as she weaves in and out of dense prose. It’s an experimental concoction that lets you hear the ambience of London streets at dusk, but only if you pay close attention. The second half of the song is where the magic happens, at the mid-point, where Lava croons over the Tony Baker assisted self-made composition.

Lava La Rue is one of the many artists representing NiNE8. A quirky collective of artists, songwriters and producers, most of whom are bound together by their birth year – 1998. On Touch (My Mind), Lava partners up with her comrade Lorenzorsv for a gentle, immersive head-bopper. A mystical energy brews between the duo who echo a similar sentiment thanks to cautionary but enlightening lyrics. They warn you about the dangers of society, one which soughts to control you; however, it’s all fine because they cannot touch your mind. Lava’s verbose writing style sometimes results in longwinded verses on Letra, and the latter track has one of those instances. Her approach is more than justified when you take into account a background in spoken word poetry and proficiency in straight ahead spitting. But it makes it harder to cut through the thick slew of words, many of which contain important messages.

When asked in a Noisey interview, Lava La Rue explained that the EP takes its title from the Basque region in Spain, and that she “was really fascinated with their words, and Letra literally means words or lyrics in the Basque language.” It shows the ample thought process of a young rapper who aims to share something meaningful through her art. My mind races back to a time where Hip-Hop was extremely conscious under the scope of artists like KRS-One or the political Public Enemy tangent.

Lava La Rue makes it her mission to create songs you can vibe to on Letra, but don’t sleep on the message. On “Fucked Up (memory mattress)”, the West London rapper puts herself directly under the spotlight, questioning herself over the Boss Nass production. It’s another mellow cut which runs with the essence of 90s era R&B, haunting vocals floating over stretched-out keys. You can’t dwell on what you’ve lost, but that doesn’t bother Lava who continues to lament. “You left your print like a memory mattress, she sings, and rightfully for someone who can intertwine empathetic rhymes in a creative manner.

Letra picks up again with “WIDDIT” one of the earliest releases from the project. It’s a sobering track which shifts the experimental sounds down a more brazen Hip-Hop route. The single which snaps you out of the trance Lava La Rue entangles you in throughout the project. The production comes courtesy of Disk Nagataki, and it reminds me of an easy Sunday morning, with each hit of the snare she hammers in a righteous message. It’s another good effort from the young rapper who doesn’t shy away from the responsibility she shoulders. She understands the onus is her to use the music to unshackle the mental chains that bind the masses.

The last track is a joint effort where Lava La Rue enlists Tariq Disu, who assumes both hook and production duty. It’s an exciting partnership between the two, bolstered by a heavenly touch of high scale keys, and I find my head swaying back and forth to the pair’s sublime hook. The harmonious vocals are uplifting, and Lava La Rue manoeuvres through the euphoric sonics with extreme grace. Letra is an uphill journey to nirvana. It’s a release which is increasingly positive, but it doesn’t dull away from the dark side of life. However, Lava La Rue has seemed to have found the winning formula and it’s bundled in this intricate body of work.

Written by /
Published /
July 2
Category /
Album Review