INTERVIEW: Listaa | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Listaa was quickly earmarked as one to watch in 2015 with his debut mixtape Illusive Living. With conscious lyricism over boom-bap production, the rapper later joined NNE, the most exciting crew the region had. Not long after, Listaa would be compared to North East icon Rick Fury, and has achieved everything a rapper can in the North East including performances at Hit The North, Evolution Emerging and Lindisfarne.

Yet, he’s spoken about how anxiety in particular can hinder his creativity. It amplified in 2017 after a break-up which “caused a whirlwind of emotions to come to the surface.” Listaa has also had a turbulent relationship with his peers. After NNE split, he worked with E-Mence and Claymore, but is now solo again. Before joining them officially, he found NNE “inspiring”, as he worked on Illusive Living with the crew’s producer Drew Rich. Towards the end Listaa admits they were “easily upset. Someone would do something little and we’d make a mountain of it.”

How much of this came through pressure? At the time everyone wanted to hear more from the Wearside collective. “I think that’s why I’ve taken time off, because it got the point where I’m not writing because I feel like it. Like the passion, it’s still there, but it’s not causing me to write in that moment, but what is causing me to write is because I know people want music and you feel obliged to get new music out. You shouldn’t think like that, it should be passion.”

I don’t want to be regarded as similar to anyone, I just wanna be like Listaa

Expectations rose following 2017 mixtape PiSC3S which lead to comparisons to Rick Fury. “That was mad”, Listaa remarks, “that was good to hear. Rick’s a big name from the North East. If not the biggest.”

He never felt like he had to live up to the expectations of following in Fury’s footsteps though, although he obviously appreciates the comparisons. “I don’t want to be regarded as similar to anyone, I just wanna be like Listaa. That’s Listaa. That’s Listaa’s sound. I want to be focusing on my own style.”

It’s his own style that led to Listaa breaking away from E-Mence and Claymore. “I just found that they had a better vibe together than what I did with them. I remember doing a set at Lindisfarne and I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb.” He admits his mental health might have also played a part, saying “there’s a lot of time I don’t want to meet up just through being anxious.”

For now though, Listaa is back to writing music and he credits Claymore in particular for inspiring him. “I’ll go and see Claymore and he’ll spit his new bars, and I’ll get jealous ‘cause he’s really sick. Hats off to him though, I’ve seen a lot of people come into the scene and how they progress, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone progress so much in such a short time as him.”

Supporting Devlin at Newcastle University Students Union on Saturday 18th May also plays a part in Listaa’s motivation to make more music. He beams: “It’s mad because I’ve been quiet for a while, and then out the blue I get a FaceTime like…Devlin gig. I was like ‘damn right. Put me name on that. Get me name on that now’.”


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