Hip-Hop legend L-FRESH The LION discusses Storytelling, Representation and Respect in Music
Abbey Road Institute Sydney welcomed Australian hip-hop legend L-FRESH The LION to our campus for an exclusive masterclass. Every second Friday, we bring a pioneer from the music industry to chat with our students about their career, their philosophy as an artist, producer or engineer, and their advice for those looking to break through. Gracious with his time and knowledge, L-FRESH The LION delivered an inspiring masterclass filled with all of the above and more.
Born and raised in South West Sydney, L-FRESH The LION is one of Australia’s most important hip-hop artists. From live music venues, stadiums and arenas, to the United Nations Headquarters in New York, his music is a powerful statement which speaks of purpose. It was this energy that inspired basketball side Sydney Kings to choose L-FRESH to write and perform their team song, “WE THE KINGS”, and perform the anthem for the first time in 2019 in front of a record-breaking 17,500+ crowd at Qudos Bank Arena.
THe importance of storytelling
The honesty and authenticity found in L-FRESH’s storytelling is a trademark of his artistry, and something that he harnesses when promoting his brand. He explains,
“Just as much energy as I put into the music, I also put into thinking about giving the music life. And the thing that excites me about that part is it’s storytelling too. If I’m chatting [with someone] and I’m like, ‘I got this song’ and I just give it to you, what are the chances of you actually listening to it? [But] if I have a conversation with you and we connect on a meaningful level, then you’re going to be like, ‘I need to listen to that now.’”
turning Criticism into motivation
Earlier in the masterclass, L-FRESH spoke about “always being a student,” learning something new from every conversation and every experience he’s had in all walks of life. Not every experience can be a positive one, with L-FRESH speaking on the criticism he got early in his career. However, turning what can seem like harsh criticism into a positive is what kept him improving as a writer and performer.
“Super early on when I had a lot to learn, I would get harsh criticism from those who were around me who had been there. The thing I recognised was they wanted to see me succeed and see me do well, so I always just took it in stride. If I took that criticism like, ‘nah, you don’t know what you’re talking about,’ then I never would have improved.”
What do you stand for?
L-FRESH touched on the importance of your brand and what you represent as an artist, citing many of the opportunities he has been given, including writing the Sydney Kings’ team song, coming as a result of what he stands for. “That’s what helps you build communities and build sustainable careers, because people want to be a part of that,” he said.
The journey to figuring out what you stand for as an artist is a long one, full of soul-searching and perseverance. Having an obsessive nature towards music is essential for that reason, something that was instilled in L-FRESH from early on.
“If you’re going to do something, do it with your whole heart, and do it in an unrelenting kind of way, because you’re going to be in it a lot. You have to love it obsessively to the point where it doesn’t feel like work.”
Relationships and respect
Retaining relationships is essential in the music industry because you never know where an opportunity is going to come from. Campus Manager Ron Haryanto touched on a few opportunities he came by simply because he gave people respect and nurtured relationships over a period of time. Similarly, L-FRESH is a big believer in acknowledging and respecting everyone you come across on your journey as the basis of building your network in the industry.
“Everyone you meet has a story and everyone you meet is just as valuable and equal to the greater world as you are, so I think treating everybody with respect – whether they’re the person opening the door at the venue or the person who’s running the event – is really important.”
At the end of the day…
After 2 hours of inspirational stories and advice on building communities, using storytelling in your strategy, navigating social media, and more, L-FRESH ended the masterclass with the most important piece of wisdom.
“One thing to end on that I assume is a given but sometimes isn’t, [is] your music’s got to be excellent. At the end of the day, this whole conversation that we’ve had means nothing if you’re not making the best music possible.”