Lewis Southward bringing hip-hop to West Yorkshire

Lewis Southward

Lewis Southward - Credit: not Archant

A teenager from Pontefract is aiming for the big time with his slick rhymes, writes Paul Mackenzie

Lewis Southward

Lewis Southward - Credit: not Archant

Rap music isn’t everyone’s cup of Yorkshire Tea. It has a reputation for being loud, aggressive and not always pleasant about everyone. It is associated with misogyny, violence and intolerance and is most often performed by young men wearing over-large caps, baggy trousers and more gold than you’ll find in the Queen’s jewellery box.

But while there are few similarities between rap music’s spiritual home in the underground clubs of New York and the West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract, Lewis Southward is doing his bit to bridge the gap.

While Lewis looks the part, with his baseball cap, hoody and bling, he’s not your typical rap artist. He doesn’t cruise around town in a pimped up sports car for a start – at 16 he’s too young to drive and instead glides around on a swegway hoverboard. And although to untrained ears the songs he performs sound as though they follow the standard pattern, his Yorkshire twang breaks through and the lyrics reflect his teenage experiences.

‘I’m never fake with anything,’ he said. ‘I’m not trying to be something I’m not. My songs are about my experiences, I stay away from all that other stuff you hear in rap. It’s about story-telling from my point of view, not necessarily things that have happened directly to me but things seen from my perspective.’

Lewis began his music career as a promoter for under-18 club nights in Pontefract and went on to launch his own popular events at clubs in Castleford and Wakefield. The former Kings School pupil watched the DJs and learned from them and from watching videos online before he started on the decks himself at events he hosted which attracted hundreds of teenagers.

‘I just fell into rapping,’ he said. ‘I used to do it with my mates and at events and someone posted a video online which had thousands of views. I started posting videos on my Facebook page and through that I was approached by a manager. My manager is now in talks about all sorts of big things, including a tour with a big name artist in September.’

Lewis, whose businessman dad Carl used to be a Northern Soul DJ, added: ‘My parents are coming to terms with it now they are seeing how many people are watching my videos and what opportunities are coming my way. But I know that this industry can go up and down and that when chances come along I have to grasp them.’

Lewis started out in the music industry due to his involvement with The Big Music Project. The initiative provides young people with the skills and experience to forge a career in music and the creative industries. Established in 2014, The Big Music Project is a partnership between Global, the media & entertainment group, and UK Youth the largest national charity for the youth sector. Please find more information on The Big Music Project here.

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