Art&Seek is highlighting new music from North Texas every Thursday. Click above to hear me talk with North Texas singer, songwriter, and rapper La Bell for our Music Minute, which airs on KERA FM and KXT 91.7. For more local music, tune in to the KXT Local Show at 7 p.m. on Thursdays. And tell us what you’ve been listening to on Facebook, Instagram or @artandseek on Twitter.
La Bell grew up with a love of singing, but struggled with the anxiety of performing at an early age. When she discovered rap at 19, she knew she had found her way to do what she loved while still being able to express herself.
“When you sing, you have to worry about pitch and tone and hitting the right note, but when you rap you don’t have to do any of that unless you want to,” she said. “To me that was a comfort, to not be judged by how I sound, but what I say.”
La Bell found that she had a talent for writing lyrical verses and raps and started performing open mics after graduating high school, building both her craft and her confidence. Now, she touts singing as one of her main talents and it is heavily featured in her music, which she describes as Hip-Hop and Soul that is mixed with an acoustic, R&B, and Pop flair. Ten years ago, she added to her arsenal of expertise- she bought herself a guitar from eBay and taught herself how to play.
“I thought it would really help me as a songwriter to have an instrument that I could use.” She said.
While La Bell worked on songwriting, Covid 19 gave her an unexpected opportunity when it came to her technique. She ended up writing four songs during quarantine.
“Since Covid, I’ve had a lot of time to adapt to a new writing style… I really need the opportunity to let the song breathe. I write until it feels good. And when it stops feeling good, I put the pen down, walk away and come back when I know I’ve got something genuine to say,” La Bell said.
This is evident on the track “Floyd’s Song”, which features vocalist KnowShame. The song is La Bell’s tribute to George Floyd and commentary on the state of the world today. “Floyd’s Song” was released in July and has received much-deserved attention. The video has 34k views on Facebook, but La Bell doesn’t want the message of the song to get lost.
“It is named ‘Floyd’s Song’ for a reason… For me, it has nothing to do with the song, and everything to do with the person,” she says.
La Bell’s latest single, “Go Time (Ready for It)” was also one of the four songs she wrote during Covid lockdown. While “Floyd’s Song” is a tribute and serious commentary, “Go Time” takes things in a different, more lighthearted, direction. The beat is bouncy and fun and features La Bell both rapping and singing.
Lyrics, like “Everytime I see you/It’s go time. Anytime I want to be with you/You’re on time,” only contribute to the excitement of the flirty song which brings with it the feeling of new love.
“In a time of so much turmoil and uncertainty, the fact that something as bouncy and lightweight as ‘Go Time’ came to me was a shock!” La Bell said.
She recorded the song in one night and says that it was a good reprieve from what was going on in current events.
“It made me feel like I was on a beach somewhere, and I think that if it made me feel that way, then I would hope that it would do the same for other people,” she said. (Warning: the song below contains explicit language.)
La Bell is excited about 2021 and is looking forward to the future. She hopes to perform more shows and release an EP. La Bell also hopes to strengthen her relationship with Girls Rock Dallas, a nonprofit organization whose mission is dedicated to empowering girls, trans, and gender-expansive youth through the use of music education. She was a featured performer for the non-profit’s virtual camp last summer.
La Bell has some actual live shows coming up. You can see her at On the Levee in Dallas Saturday, Oct 17th, and at Landmark Bar and Kitchen in Ft. Worth on Oct 18th. Keep up with her new music releases and upcoming shows on her website as well as Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.