Ladibree. Photo: Lolya Rose

Ladibree is a budding 25-year-old emcee from Staten Island. Despite her lyrical prowess and innate ability to blend different flows together seamlessly, she refuses to allow herself to be stuck in a box musically. She’s committed to fostering the growth of Hip Hop as a genre and strives to be a leader for women Hip Hop artists of her generation.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Ladibree to discuss all things Hip Hop – her introduction to the genre, her desire to see Hip Hop keep evolving, her favorite artists and much more.

This interview has edited and condensed for clarity

Epicenter: What was your introduction to Hip Hop?

Ladibree: I was introduced to Hip Hop by my parents. My mom liked Tupac and my dad liked Biggie. So when we were riding in their respective cars, I would pay close attention to the music they played. But I’d say my real introduction was just hearing it on the radio. A lot of it was old-school rap. My mom would listen to 98.7 KISS FM and they would play this song called “The Show” by Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh and that was my favorite song. It was very much just through my family and people who loved Hip Hop and loved music. 

Epicenter: Can you speak to the moment you fell in love with Hip Hop?

Ladibree: I can’t really say that I can pinpoint the moment that I fell in love with Hip Hop. I think it was more a collection of experiences with Hip Hop music that allowed me to recognize and realize how important to me it was – and how important it was to other people. As someone who actually writes music and makes Hip Hop, I think the thing that makes me love it can be summarized in two ways:

I think the first is recognizing the impact that Hip Hop music had on me individually in regard to the different songs that I like and how it makes me feel. My favorite Hip Hop songs and artists help me know I’m not the only one who’s feeling what I’m feeling – like I’m not the only one going through what I’m going through. 

The second part is really watching how Hip Hop affects others; how Hip Hop can bring joy, how Hip Hop can bring people together and how people can connect with music and connect with one another through Hip Hop songs and Hip Hop culture. That’s when I realized I loved it… just realizing it’s bigger than just putting on headphones and playing a song.

Epicenter: When you hear the term “Hip Hop,” what does that mean to you?

Ladibree: It really means freedom. It means storytelling. It means the ability to tell urban stories from marginalized people and make it fun. I think about truth. I think about changing lives. I think about culture and history. I think about Black people. I think about Latino people. The term “Hip Hop” makes me think of New York and the birthplace of it, and how it not only spread to the rest of the country but influenced the rest of the country. I think of the people who’ve taken it and made it their own and evolved it into different genres and subgenres across the world. To me, “Hip Hop” means evolution. It means the ability to say, ‘this is my story, this is my truth and this is how I feel right now… and it doesn’t necessarily have to be presented to you in a way that you like, understand or approve of. But this is what you’re gonna get, because there’s somebody who will understand it and love it.’

Photo: Tia Daubas

Epicenter: As Hip Hop approaches 50, what do you think about how far it’s come and where you would like to see it go?

Ladibree: Thinking about how far it’s come is wild because I’m only 25. I’m just half the age of Hip Hop. But knowing the history of Hip Hop and how big it is as a genre relative to how it was when it initially started in the 70s, is just wild to me. People didn’t even think it would last past the 70s and now it’s considered one of the most important genres in the world. It says something about its growth, impact, realness and importance to the world.

As far as where it’s going, I love to see Hip Hop make its way into other genres. I love the fact that artists are becoming more fearless in bringing their own influences into the Hip Hop space. There are a lot of Hip Hop artists that aren’t inspired solely by Hip Hop. I love to see artists push the envelope and not get caught up in just making what they think people want to hear but make something they can be a fan of themselves.

Top 5:

What are your top five favorite Hip Hop albums of all time?

“Ready to Die” by The Notorious B.I.G., “4 Your Eyez Only” by J. Cole, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” by Lauryn Hill, “Nothing was the Same” by Drake and “Reasonable Doubt” by Jay-Z.

Who are your top five favorite Hip Hop artists of all time?

Lauryn Hill, The Notorious B.I.G., Drake, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z.

What are your top five favorite Hip Hop songs of all time?

“Sky’s the Limit” by The Notorious B.I.G., “One Mic” by Nas, “How’s it Goin’ Down” by DMX, “Shook Ones Pt. II” by Mobb Deep and “C.R.E.A.M” by Wu-Tang Clan.

Ladibree is preparing for the release of an upcoming single, “What I Need,” slated to be available on August 18. It’s her first dive into what she calls “hip house” or “house rap,” noting how influential house music has been on her. Aside from her single, Ladibree says she is currently working on a group of songs that she hopes to release before the year is over. She hopes these songs will prove her willingness to try and implement different genres. “I want to solidify my sound and versatility, and find the audience that wants more of that and pour into them,” she says. 

Ladiebree will be performing at Pianos on the Lower East Side on Sept. 7. In the meantime, you can find all of her music on all the DSPs like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, etc.

Curtis Rowser III is a Brooklyn-based writer and digital media creator. He recently earned a master’s degree in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown University and is currently completing his master’s...

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