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Lord Apex Sofia Cremaschi The Good Fight
Lord ApexPhotography Sofia Cremaschi

Lord Apex is the radical rapper with an ear to the underground

As his debut album The Good Fight hits shelves, we chat to the west London rapper about working with Madlib, his organic, all-natural rider, and building a fashion empire to rival the greats

Like his name would suggest, Lord Apex is only just reaching the peak of his success. But since his teenage years, the west London rapper has dedicated himself to the craft, producing an impressive catalogue of tapes and EPs vaster than most artists could imagine, especially for one who’s only just dropping his debut studio album now. Projects like Interplanetary Funk introduced us to Apex’s tricked-out, experimental vibrations, while the Smoke Sessions series put us on to the rapper’s more mellow, introspective side. With a melodic flow and influences on both sides of the Atlantic, Apex’s music is often described as straddling the genres of rap, but how would he describe his own music? “I’m a Gemini moon,” he says, an atypical start for a question about sound. “I’m not a full Gemini, but I have Gemini traits, so I’m not on one thing forever. I’ve got to keep evolving and changing. I never like to do the same thing for too long – my music just goes along more with my personality. I like to keep expanding and seeing new things.”

On The Good Fight, this new vision is at its sharpest yet. On lead single “Smokers Lounge”, the rapper knows exactly where he is and who he wants to be (“Fuck with you if you ain’t independent rapping/Underground stepping”), his taught flow expanding vividly across its sparse instrumentation. Graceful strings on the Greentea Peng-assisted “In Your Heart” provide a backdrop for R&B crooner Apex, while the chorus on the Madlib-produced title track shows the rapper isn’t just an astute lyricist, but has an ear for a killer hook too. But to deliver output of this quality, Apex isn’t afraid to mine the depths of his experience. “My music revolves around an experiment – and I’m not afraid to fail, like you do with an experiment,” he explains. “I’m never afraid to take chances. It’s about pushing music forward and creating new sounds”.

Below, we catch up with the rapper about what inspired his new project, the Datpiff mixtape era of the 2010s, and why he’d rather be a “tree” than a “branch”.

Hey Apex, congrats on the new album. What was the inspiration behind the name The Good Fight?

Lord Apex: Life at the time. I felt like I was fighting a good fight. Have you ever come across a phrase and you resonate with it so much that it feels like you’re supposed to have always known that phrase, and it just becomes a big part of your vocabulary? That was the feeling when I came across ‘the good fight’. It just fell into place. It described where life was at, where the world was at, where the music was at.

Even though this is your debut album, you have a big back catalogue of tapes. What drives your work ethic for you to keep producing at that rate?

Lord Apex: Man, I came up listening to music in the Datpiff era. A lot of the artists I listened to were just heavy on the output. It inspired me to be one of them artists when I eventually did start making music.

Who were some of those artists that influenced?

Lord Apex: People like Lil’ Wayne, Mac Miller, Wiz Khalifa, Gucci Mane, Soulja Boy, even Lil B. How many projects they were putting out was insane, but it didn’t really feel like they were flooding the market because everything they were putting out had a certain level of quality to it. I always felt like there’s a realm of artists whose output is quality plus quantity. I always wanted to strive to be one of those artists.

The artists that you just mentioned are mostly from the US. Do you feel like you’re influenced more by that side of the Atlantic? 

Lord Apex: No, it’s just that Datpiff was an American mixtape website. There were a couple UK guys, but you have to live in reality, and there were not that many UK mixtapes. I was on SpiffTV for the UK shit.

On the album, the title track is produced by Madlib – how did that come about?

Lord Apex: We’ve had a few in the stash that didn't make it on the previous album because of internal shit like beats being swooped up by other people. Then with a big help from Max [manager Maxim Robin] and his homies Krondon and Phil Da Agony – OG legends from LA – they put in a word for me in person with Madlib, which I really appreciate. From them giving him this stamp, he was down to go and I felt like it just worked out. Even that works itself as a metaphor for the good fight, because he did it off the strength of the word literally. So again it’s another testament to that shit.

How did the other collab with Freddie Gibbs come about?

Lord Apex: It was just a mutual love, man. We’ve done a tour together and I think we built up a  repertoire when we were working together. There was a lot of mutual respect between us and outside of that he fucked with my music, he fucked with my performance and I’ve been a big fan of his music for a while. It was inevitable that it was going to happen. I like to keep it organic so it was just about waiting for the song to present itself and when it did, it was a-go. It wasn’t even a song I intended for him to be on, which is why I know it was something organic that was meant to happen how it did.

Have you got anyone on your bucket list like dream collaborations that you really want? 

Lord Apex: Charlie Wilson and Busta Rhymes. 

“You can look at an artist’s clothes and tell how good their music is by how they dress” – Lord Apex

You have a strong sense of style, whether that’s online or in your visuals. Can you speak a bit about your fashion influences?

Lord Apex: A lot of it came from the culture I grew up in. A lot of it is primarily Jamaican influence for me personally, especially British Caribbean. Then outside of that, there are people like Bogle from Jamaica. He’s a famous dancer that died, but he’s one of the most stylish guys I ever knew. Then people like Kanye, Pharrell, Nigo.

I grew up in that era of streetwear, seeing it on MTV and all the videos and aspiring to be in that bag. I always respected artists who essentially made their own clothes because I felt like if you were really into clothes and you finally got to a place where you got the bread to make clothes,  why wouldn’t you? There are a few other people but I would say those were the primary people. And definitely Snoop as well.

Do you see fashion as an extension of your artistry?

Lord Apex: Yeah, because you can look at an artist’s clothes and tell how good their music is by how they dress [laughs]. There are certain fashion influencers that are like the tree, and there are other people that are influenced by the tree, and end up being more like branches. The shit they wear  just looks like uniformed versions of another person. It’s not bad, and we’re all inspired by someone else, but I’d rather be the tastemaker – I’d rather be the tree – and then have a whole bunch of people branching off of the shit I do. The same way most trees come from another tree. It’s just a revolving effect. I love fashion. I love it just as much as music, so it’s always interesting for me to speak about it.

Would you launch your own brand at some point?

Lord Apex: I’ve got my first samples coming in tomorrow! So that’s kind of the zone I’m in right now. I just got to 10 designs in this brand new sketchbook I’ve done, so I’m trying to challenge myself to get to 30 by the end of this month hopefully. I really do enjoy doing that outside of music.

What song could you not stop playing growing up?

Lord Apex: For some reason, I used to love “Thong Song” as a kid. That was my shit. I couldn’t stop playing it.

What was the most recent note from your notes app?

Lord Apex: I’ll give you guys the honest truth, nothing but the truth. It was me and MAVI’s track that we’ve got on the album. We were shooting a video so I needed to play it off my phone, so it was just there.

What's your star sign and are you a  typical one of that star sign?

Lord Apex: I’m a Cancer born in July, and we know what the crab season is like – we expanded to millions and it’s just a madting. I fuck with Cancers man. We get a bad rap for being emotional, but we’re not, we know what we want. You can’t fuck us over because then we can forgive but we don’t forget – you’ve got to cross yourself off the list. You just don’t want to be on the bad side of Cancer, but the good side is like heaven. I’m emotional as fuck, but you know that’s why the music comes out so good because I just wear it on my sleeve.

What's the last meme you saved?

Lord Apex: It’s so stupid. There’s no context, I just thought it was funny as hell.

Do you have any weird internet obsessions at the moment? 

Lord Apex: Nah, I’ve just been making music and trying to get inspired again. I had a phase where I was watching my bullshit online but now I'm just back in the zone. Outside of that I’m a big cartoon and anime watcher but that's not really weird. No weird shit right now but I’ve definitely had phases where I might be searching shit like the weirdest album of all time.

Do you have any recurring dreams?

Lord Apex: I haven’t had it for a while now, but I used to have this recurring dream where I’d always end up back in my high school and I’m like ‘what the fuck am I doing here?’ But I think I’ve blocked that out now. I haven’t had it for a while.

Who would you say your nemesis is?

Lord Apex: Myself. I can never have any enemies. I love everybody and anybody who considers me an enemy is just blind, and I forgive them for being blind. 

What’s on your for you page right now?

Lord Apex: I don’t use TikTok. I’m scared of TikTok. There’s something about it I don’t vibe with. Also, it may just be because I have a bit of an addictive personality and I know if I go on there, then I’m going to be doing videos like every fucking day and I don’t want to be that guy.

What do you put on your rider? 

Lord Apex: We’ve got lightly salted Doritos with hummus and guac. We’ve got Asahi beers. We’ve got ginger shots, organic wine, lots of fruits on there. We’ve got grapes, strawberries, and apples. We’re trying to keep it healthy and organic; Manuka honey, some lemon and ginger tea. Just keep it natural, man.

The Good Fight is out now on E/M Worldwide.

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