Hip-hop artist Lex Leosis excited to be back on stage

Hip-hop artist Lex Leosis excited to be back on stage
Lex Leosis performs with Snotty Nose Rez Kids and DJ Kookum at the Capital Ballroom in Victoria on Friday. (Photo submitted)

Toronto hip-hop artist Lex Leosis is thrilled to be back performing on stage in Victoria once again.

“I am stoked and I’ve got all this energy inside,” she says.

On Friday (March 25), Leosis will be performing with DJ Kookum and award-winning Indigenous hip-hop group Snotty Nose Rez Kids at the Capital Ballroom in Victoria.

It’s the first stop of the Snotty Nose Rez Kids’ After Life Tour, which will see Leosis and the Juno-nominated hip-hop duo travel across North America. The show was also originally supposed to take place in late November was cancelled, along with a planned show in Vancouver, due to coronavirus restrictions.

“When we toured together in November, I wasn’t sure if there was going to be another part of the tour or what was going to happen. So, I am really stoked that we get to be in front of a live audience again,” she says. “I really do have this built-up energy from the last few months.”

Leosis’ set will feature a mixture of her older work along with songs from Terracotta, a six-track EP that was released in 2021 which she calls a merge between Toronto energy and California-inspired production.

“I worked with different producers to kind of create something that you can jam along too and bob your head too and makes you want to dance,” she says. “That top-down car ride vibe but still bringing that lyricism and high energy.”

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Leosis has been involved in music for more than a decade, either as a solo artist or briefly as a member of The Sorority. She originally started off doing spoken word poetry in her late teens and transitioned into hip-hop, which she had long been interested in.

“My older cousin had introduced me to A Tribe Called Quest when I was very young, about seven, and I just became obsessed. Then, later in my teen years, when the internet was taking off with Limewire and YouTube, I was able to dig into so many different scenes all across North America and beyond, and I just became really obsessed with hip-hop.”

After becoming emersed in the Toronto hip-hop scene, Leosis moved to California to further her career.

“I really loved the supportive energy that California brought, just in all different cities. I remember playing for like 200 people in Auburn … and there was just such a big sense of a hip-hop community that just wasn’t being shown in Toronto at that time,” she says. “I feel very differently about now, but there just wasn’t a lot of avenues for me to tap into when I was a young emcee in Toronto and California really just showed me that love and support.”

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Eventually, Leosis made her way back to Toronto and in 2016 she, along with Keysha Freshh, Haviah Mighty, and pHoenix Pagliacci formed a female hip-hop group called The Sorority. The group formed shortly after they collaborated on a cypher for International Women’s Day, which went viral.

“We didn’t actually know each other the day we filmed that cypher and everyone thought we were a group and then we kind of became a group,” Leosis says. “We were all solo artists at that time and we kind of put our solo careers on hold.”

Over the course of three years, the group managed to release an album along with four singles and tour across North America, which included a stop in Victoria. In 2018, they won the Stingray Rising Stars award and were included on CBC Music’s “10 new Canadian artists who ruled 2018” list.

“It was just this sisterhood that developed through a passion that we all shared through hip-hop and we really pushed ourselves to be better live performers, better MCs,” says Leosis.

However, in 2019, the group decided to disband and focus strictly on their solo careers. Leosis says it was an amicable breakup that was in everyone’s best interest.

“It just got to the point where we were just working so hard on both things that it was really hard to contribute something to both our solo careers and the group and we didn’t want the group to suffer because of that,” she says. “We just decided it would be better to have a great ending rather than have it fall off because we couldn’t give it the time that we wanted.”

Leosis says she remains close with all of the former The Sorority members. She also says being a part of the group was extremely beneficial for her career.

“Sharing that space with other women was so powerful and really empowered me to take my career to the next level,” she says.

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When she’s not working on her own music or touring, Leosis spends works as lead facilitator for youth programs in Toronto and Hamilton, teaching kids how to rhyme, rap and write.

“I just think it is really important for the community to lift other emcees up,” she says. “This goes for all careers, but when you’re starting off, it is very daunting and you don’t have the experience that other people have, so just being able to share that and give that knowledge to younger emcees is so important to me.”

Lex Leosis performs with Snotty Nose Rez Kids and DJ Kookum at the Capital Ballroom in Victoria on Friday (March 25).

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Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

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