Lily Mercer 26 London. For now.
Categories: DJ, Journalist, Music

Posted: 6th December 2014

Appropriately enough we first got chatting to our latest BabyFace girl in a jeep, in a strip club booth, whilst Skepta took the stage and A$AP Rocky wondered in. To her friends she’s known as ‘Rap Queen’ or ‘Hip Hop Encyclopedia’ but we know her as Lily Mercer, founder and editor of cult music publication Viper. We’d out put our last rolo on the fact that the mermaid-haired Lily knows more about Hip Hop than you and at just 26 she’s interviewed some of the biggest icons on the rap map: Mary J Blige, Nas and Wu Tang Clan get a name check.

Lily began her career as a music journalist contributing to titles such as iD, Wonderland, RWD and Noisey, and, had a key role in the launch of London brand WAH, acting as their first editor on the WAH magazine and working closely with Sharmadean Reid on early launches. Lily subsequently worked as online editor for the groundbreaking youth-sub-culture brand, SB:TV. That might sound like enough output for one grown person’s career, but Lily’s CV doesn’t stop here.

For Lily ‘youth-culture’ ‘independent’ ‘emerging’ and ‘niche’ have become watchwords in her vocabulary that have come to shape her trajectory thus far. On feeling that hip hop publications weren’t paying full lip service to the authentic and independent artists breaking through into the scene, by supporting, major labels and already established commercial cover stars (and so perpetrating misconceptions about rap being all about the dollar bill) Lily did something absurd- she launched her print magazine- Viper, in 2013 (gutsy doesn’t cover it). A now fully recognised music chronicle with the likes of School Boy Q and Darq E Freaker having taking turns on the cover, it deserves its ‘collectable’ status (there are only 500 prints per issue, so get yours, like, now). You can’t read Viper in one siting (fact). Take this month’s ice-cool Dej Loaf issue; From super-smooth Champion tracksuit laden editorials to iconoclastic illustrations and think pieces discussing how rap music has changed fashion or why we’re all gelling our baby hair again, it’s a magazine that holds up and uniquely explores the best of Hip Hop culture, documenting it’s visual and sonic impact here in the UK and across the pond from the inside.

The highlight of her career? When she sat down with the doyenne of break-up-jams Mary J Blige and asked what her go-to break up song is. The unflaggingly composed Mary, creased and started chatting away. Real girl talk right there- can’t picture it? Then you need to tune into Lily’s radio show. Yeah- Did we mention that Lily also hosts her own radio show on Rinse FM? You can catch her show between 1am and 3am on a Sunday and it won’t come as any surprise that Lily’s show is often filled with ‘artists who are maybe 18 and from Chicago, and are suddenly hearing themselves on a UK radio station for the first time’.

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU DO:I'm a music journalist, Rinse FM DJ and I edit my own magazine called Viper. My articles have been published by Dazed, i-D, Wonderland and Clash Magazine. I've interviewed Nas, Mary J Blige, Ashanti and more. Previously I've worked for SB.TV and WAH Nails. HOW WOULD YOUR FRIENDS DESCRIBE YOU IN A SENTENCE?Some call me the Hip Hop Encyclopaedia or Rap Queen. I'd say my friends would describe me as passionate, driven and hardworking. Entertaining at times.WHEN ARE YOU HAPPIEST?High with my boyfriend watching a sunset. Or reading a book. WHAT’S YOUR BEST ADVICE?The best bit of advice I've been given was by my mum via Jay Z. She was trying to explain to me the importance of being focused on your own path instead of watching others in your field. She's a horse-lover and is always telling me "blinkers on" meaning don't watch what others do. One day her message got through to me when she put it into a Jay Z quote, "I ain't looking at you fools, I'm looking past you." Though I burst out laughing at hearing that lyric said by my mum, it was the tipping point and I finally stopped comparing myself to others that were where I wanted to be. Since then, I've risen beyond the point I originally wanted to be at. The only reason for that is because I was no longer distracted and envying others.WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?Be nice to everyone regardless of position or power. Colin McDowell did a talk at my uni once and said be nice on the way up, because if you fall, those are the people that will catch you. I think it always pays to use manners, but that's the English in me. My motto goes out the window with mean people though. If they're rude to you, then there's no need to be polite. But always be nice first.SONG TO BE PLAYING AS YOU ENTER THE CLUB?Superthug by Noreaga. When it came out I was about 12 but it's the best song to party to. If it's playing when I enter a club, I'll head straight to the dance floor with my coat on. It's best heard as part of a Pharrell mix.WHAT'S NEXT?My 100th show for Rinse FM is coming up in the next few months. Plus taking Viper Magazine to the next level. It started as a 50 page magazine in October 2013 and our Autumn/Winter 2014 issue is almost 200 pages. Now it's time for our online content to be as unique as the magazine. Hopefully I'll be ticking some more artists off my interview bucket list too! AND FINALLY...WHO IS YOUR NEXT BABYFACE GIRL SUGGESTION?Who: My 100th show for Rinse FM is coming up in the next few months. Plus taking Viper Magazine to the next level. It started as a 50 page magazine in October 2013 and our Autumn/Winter 2014 issue is almost 200 pages. Now it's time for our online content to be as unique as the magazine. Hopefully I'll be ticking some more artists off my interview bucket list too!
Why: She's shot for everyone from Rolling Stone to the New York Times.
Contact Lily Mercer