Amsterdam MC Spotlight: LEVI

1. Who are you and where are you from?

I am from Amsterdam, born and raised. Throughout my childhood I have lived in many places. But in the end, I always ended up in Amsterdam again. In many of my early years I was in youth care and when I turned seventeen I chose my own path. As a little boy I was very sporty and I played a lot of basketball, but when I started with music, that sporty thing disappeared. I fell in love with music and I’ve focused on it ever since.

2. When did you start making music?

I started making music around the age of sixteen. The mother of a friend of mine, who also made beats, had a job in which she did something with recordings for which she needed a microphone. So I started recording. This happened by coincidence because at that time, like many other young people, I was already writing texts on my phone. I heard from my friends that I had a talent for this, so we made a beat and I started rapping on it.

3. I can hear British influences in your beats, but how would you describe your style?

I feel like I have two sounds. And that’s the rapping and the singing. When singing I feel more like I really have my own sound. I get the inspiration for singing from the music of Lil ‘Durk. However, my music career started with rapping. Once drill came over from the UK to the Netherlands, many of my friends started making drillrap. But I was never attracted to this subgenre, because it is aggressive music with a negative connotation. I really appreciate the beats, and I really love the flow that results from that. Then I had the idea to start doing my own thing with drillbeats. So I use my flow on those beats, but with a more positive than negative charge.

4. Who or what has been your greatest inspiration and influence on the music you make now?

As a little boy I already imagined that I was on stage. I don’t know where this came from, but I had a certain fascination with the attention you get on stage and the audience that literally looks up to you. I used to jump stand on the table and pretended that I was performing. As I got older, I got the opportunity to make an interest into my hobby and job. I come from nothing and therefore I have an “all or nothing” mentality. When I do something, I want to fully go for it. Before I started with music, sport was an outlet through which I could distinguish and express myself, and as I got older this changed to music. Just like with sports, I wanted to be the best of the best with music. Music is a better outlet than I could ever imagine. Writing texts allows me to get rid of things that I have in a way that works for me.

5. What message do you want to convey in your songs?

If you look at my clips you really see Levi. I don’t like to pretend to be someone else. When the younger guys watch my music, I want them to see the real me. With my songs I want to give the listeners a peek inside my head, I don’t have a particular message that I want to convey every time. Every time I want to show and hear a reflection of my thought to the people around me.

6. Your most-streamed song on Spotify is “Wat Ik Moet Doen”. How did this single come about?

I was with my regular producer, prod. Choww, and with him I also started making and releasing music. You can see that too, because except for one song he produced all my songs. At the time I was also developing my own sound. I wanted to take my next step in the sound I had at the time. “Kom Van Niks” was a nice song, but in my opinion the production was pretty bad. I thought it was still too amateurish. And with “What I Have to Do”, I wanted to show what I had to offer.

Soon I’ll be dropping a new song that I feel is the best rap level I’ve reached so far. I think it is extremely important to keep growing and to keep developing yourself. I can’t say too much about what I’m going to do next. But I’m thinking about adding a little more variety to my discography, like new vocals. I have made many strides in this area, but this is not yet at the level I want it to be.

7. Your songs are quite different in content. You make emotional songs like “Kom Van Niks” and a real “bop” like “Lopen Als Mij” that also contains emotional elements. How do you find the right balance between these forms of music?

In the songs in which I sing, such as “Kom Van Niks”, I use the music as an emotional outlet for myself. This is my more sensitive side. The rap songs are also an outlet, but for different emotions. When I have to let off steam I start rapping, and when I feel like I start singing. It’s not that I want to show a certain feeling every time in the studio. Sometimes I’m in the studio and I want to rap, then I start rap. It has more to do with what I like or don’t like.

8. So far you have mainly released singles, is there an EP or album on the schedule?

I don’t really want to think about albums and EPs yet. I think I need more exposure before I can and will launch a large project. At the moment I don’t have the range that I would like. If I am going to launch such a large project, there must be enough attention for it, and at the moment I haven’t reached that level.

I have to keep building my fan base and myself before I can realize this, and my singles are helping in this aspect. Promotion and marketing also need increase. Behind the scenes I am also busy making connections. Lately this has been getting faster, which is nice. I hope that some nice features will come my way soon, because they can help in expanding my fanbase. 

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