L30 Robinson is a young Northampton-based tongue-in-cheek rapper who began releasing music in 2014, regularly collaborating with long-term friend and DJ Charlie Borthwick [aka CB]. In 2017 he released his first studio album Wish U Were Here. He’s just dropped another of his masterful efforts, ‘3’7 – Size Don’t Matter’. New Boots chose the occasion to have a few words.
When did you start rapping, and when did you first take it out of your bedroom into the world?
Attending Weston Favell and having supply teachers was a regular occurrence, and one of the supplies used to play songs in his classes to get the kids on board and make him seem cool. I always tried to freestyle over the instrumental sections of the songs. Then when Charlie moved to my school in about 2011 he heard me in one of those lessons and said “yo I’ve just started making beats you should make a song with one” so I did and it all began there. I used his beat for a YouTube video shot in my bedroom then started making and uploading like 2-3 vids a week.
What were those crucial early influences that made you think, “this is for me”?
As a beginner I always struggled with flow, but I compared myself to rappers my level and I didn’t sound like any of them lyrically. I was always more mature with my lyrics and then people who watched me generally had the same feeling. I remember after a year or so I was shooting a freestyle for a media channel called SoSoBlessed and the cameraman Tera D said “Leo your flow needs work but your lyrics are crazy” and that’s really stuck with me to this day.
How would you describe your sound?
Straight to the point, lyrical storytelling.
What was the reaction like to last year’s Wish U Were Here album?
The feedback was really positive, but I think I came across way too dense. There’s one feature in the first song so it’s all me and it’s got like 18 tracks. I would’ve been better off staggering it into four EPs or something, but you live and you learn and it just means I’ve got 20 sick songs on Spotify.
Tell us everything about this new song, “3’7 – Size Don’t Matter”.
The song follows no direct story, it’s just one liners. The beat was made by Bak Beats [check him out on YouTube] and when I heard it I was just drawn into being aggressive with the lyrics but in a playful way as to not come across too harsh. For instance “Mistaken identity/Are you p*****?/That guy’s white and 6’6” is actually a true story about how Charlie got beat up in a nightclub in Kettering and the bouncers walked straight past the guy who did it, threw me out, then the police arrested me – only to release me later on. Chaos.
How do you approach your live performances? Faithful recreations your thing, or do you improvise?
We rehearse our sets. I always change the song order and try to add something different to each show. At NMF 2016 me and Charlie finished our set with a screeching flat line sound playing and walked down the road for a beer leaving everyone confused about what was going on.
Do you feel part of a wider scene in Northampton? Any favourite acts or venues?
I feel more connected with the local bands that any rap scene, although Lay it down is changing that. Shout out to Leon Denton he’s working hard to form a rap scene. I don’t wanna start naming acts then forget someone but I’ll give you this: when me and Charlie won Northampton’s Best Young Musical act in 2016 at the Roadmender that was special, not just to win it but I’m the only rapper to ever win it. As a rapper I was already at a disadvantage because people would put me in a box and say “it’s not hard”, as I wasn’t playing an instrument, yet some of the bands they were supporting played a couple covers standing still with no stage presence whatsoever – not exactly difficult.
You were recently on ITV2 show ‘Don’t Hate The Playaz’. Tell us about that.
That was hooked up by Leon from Lay It Down. He was contacted by ITV and he passed on some details to me. They liked my material and it all went from there. It’s an amazing thing to see of course, but normal people are on TV everyday. I’m just glad I took my opportunity, but I’m hungry for more.
What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Jay Rock – Redemption. Awesome album, literally complete. It’s got hits, deep songs; it makes you want him to win. Jay Rock is so underrated.
What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have for 2019?
I need to perform more out of town. I’m thinking if I can bag like two shows a month then I’ll be happy with that. The music I’ve got stored will take care of me online, so I now want to make a more physical reach out.