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’.