Lanz Pierce's New 'Los City' Record is Finna be Lit
Lanz Pierce is a self-proclaimed young veteran; at the age of 27, she’s already been in the game for a decade (arguably even longer, if you count her lifelong love of sound). Having had her start as a battle rapper in the grit and grime of NYC‘s underground open-mic clubs, the one time scrappy high school dropout is now poised to drop a second album to follow 2015’s Editor’s Eye: Los City. The record, which also shares a name with her clothing line, is Pierce’s effort to combine all that she loves—Golden Age hip hop, R&B, trap, and rap all included—into one fully authentic record, that’s rugged, hard-hitting, and as real as they come.
Pierce has already given us a peek at what’s to come, with four brand-new singles released off the upcoming record: “Win”, “Piano”, Cinematic”, and “Ghost”. And if these four are any prediction of what’s next, one thing’s for sure: we’re in for a fucking treat.
I know that you have four new singles that you just dropped in the past month or so. Can you talk about what the reception has been like so far?
It’s been really good. I think, for me, the most important thing is that I always want to have a unique voice and I really want to say something. Visually, everything that I do has to come to life and feel really cinematic. So, what I was doing was creating these little mini videos for Instagram and just releasing the singles like that, doing it as teasers, and then going through my distribution—I have my own label—and dropping it full after that through Spotify. But yeah, I think people have been loving them. I’ve been performing these records for a minute, and they haven’t been out, and people have been like, “Yo, where do I find them?” So it’s cool to finally let them go.
Do you perform them live and then take the temperature of how people are receiving them and then drop?
I do, but if I’m passionate about it, sometimes I feel like you have to just drop things even if the world isn’t ready for it and the world would play catch up. So, as much as I take the temperature—and also, records resonate live differently—so, certain records are the best for driving, like, you soul search while you drive and those are just not the records I might necessarily perform, but they’re so important. Like, somebody asked me yesterday, do I think that the album is antiquated, because we live in a singles-driven climate.
I was just talking about this with someone, too.
Yeah, and I was like, “No I don’t!” and he was like, “Well, why? The biggest artists really aren’t selling albums.” And I was like “Yeah, but for me—” see I’m not in this just for quick come-up, or quick-fame or money. To me, it’s about being a curator, and it’s really about the whole picture—is the album! It’s a mood, it’s a ride, it’s a story. I’m a storyteller. That’s, essentially, what I do—I’m a storyteller.
Yeah. I mean I think—I was talking to this guy the other day about how people want instant gratification, like as soon as you drop a single, on Twitter they’re like, “Where’s the new music?” the next day.
But then at the same time a lot of people are too lazy to listen through a full album, especially all at once.
But I also feel like the packaging of an album was so epic when I was growing up, that I feel like you could still do that, it’s just a different role.
You can, and last year people like Solange and Chance really cemented that the album isn’t going away even if people are too fucking lazy to listen. But yeah, that’s cool.
Exactly. Yeah and like, through clothes—I have my own clothing line, it’s called Los City.
And that’s the name of the EP, too, right?
Yes! Exactly. So I actually almost brought you one, but it’s so hot—it’s a hoodie. They’re thin, but I was like, “I can’t even carry it” so I’ll definitely get you one, they’re really really dope.
[Laughs] Alright, dope yeah!
We shot a lookbook just the other day, and for me they go hand-in-hand. It’s not separated ventures; my music is also a representation of how I dress. My videos—I direct my own videos—same thing. It’s all part of that expression.
So, speaking of the EP, do you know when you’re gonna release it?
Yeah, definitely this summer, I don’t know the exact date, but between now and the end of July we’ll have something out.
And can you talk about the headspace you were in when you were creating it? What was your state of mind mentally and emotionally?
Yeah. I wanted to create a version of Kendrick’s Good Kid MAAD City, with the skits, and putting you in a place in time. I wanted to do it with my experiences as a New York kid, but also with having such an LA influence. That’s why it’s called Los City. There was a lot of challenges when I was recording this project. First of all, financially, just being an independent artist and having to find the studios to do it, really wanting to expand sonically on sound. Like, I’m always gonna love the Golden Ages of hip hop in the ’90s. I love that hip hop and R&B rich feel. But then again, I love the wave of some trap music, and I love the arrogance and the ruggedness of it, you know? But, at the same time, I love house music! So it’s like, I kind of sat there and was like, “How do I put all these things together and make it authentic?” I got to work with some dope producers and some really great up and comers, too. On personal side there was a lot of struggles I was going through; the breakup of the century. So like, all that pain got poured into it.
Always good fodder for new music.
Yeah, yeah. You know, and just changing and really owning—because I’ve been in this industry for a minute, people call me a young veteran. I started when I was 17. I think a great artist can always reinvent themselves, so I’ve gone through my phases. Like, I started as a battle rapper. Everything kind of came into one and it’s crystalizing in this project.
Wow. So, I know that you’re an independent artist and you direct all your own visuals. But what is it like having complete creative control over all your projects? Would you ever change that?
Spoiled, man! Spoiled! Like, last night I went to an album listening party for Vince Staples—and by the way his album is really dope—but it was funny because it was done in Midtown and as a New Yorker I was like, “Dude, I would never have my album chill in Midtown! I would never like—you know that there’s no vibe up here! Like why are you—” And then I was like, “Ohhh I get it, DefJam is right next door.” Just even that, like I really respect and admire guys like Kanye who, even though they’re on a major label platform, they’ve micromanaged their whole vision. So yeah, I would love to do a label partnership with Innovators and Aviators, my company, but I would definitely need to be able to maintain the engine and the control that I’ve had thus far, because that’s what people have paid attention to. So it’s like, why fix it? It’s not broken, you know what I mean? But yeah, I started this and I was like, “Look, how do I make great content and how do I do it in a way where I can deliver it to the people directly?” And I was like “I need an investor.” So that was a process, I went and found a great investor and you know, got the company funded. And when we got the company funded we were like, “Okay, how do we then make sure that the content is consistent?” I think visuals, for me, have been everything. My numbers are the strongest on VEVO, because I think we live in that climate today where people want to see you.
They want the full package, they want every part of you and your creative process.
So you’re a born and raised New Yorker?
So, I was born in Jersey. My mom and my dad split when I was like, four or five, and I lived in Queens with my father for the majority of my growing up—back and forth between Jersey to see my mom at times. But by the time I was a freshman in high school I had dropped out.
So, I really was raised by New York. My first job was as an intern at Cloud Recording Studios.
Oh, that’s dope!
Yeah! So like, it’s funny ’cause now I’ll go out and I’ll be around so many of my friends who are steeped in the fashion world and it’s transcended to me and fashion is such a big part of my life, and I think about the polish that’s come with being surrounded by that. But like, I never forget my roots. Like, I was literally a little scrappy kid in these underground open-mic clubs, only female, out here just earning and taking respect.
How do you feel like that shaped you as the artist you are today? That feels like a really unique way to raise yourself as an artist, you know?
Yeah. I think it’s just made me fearless. Like, I get the moments where I’m like, “Are people going to recognize what I’m doing? Are they going to be responsive?” And then when I start to question all of that, I realize that the one, unique thread that connects everybody is that people just respect when you go for it. Whatever is it. Even when you see on TV shows, like on reality shows—like the nerd or the one who’s maybe the awkward moment—people just respect you owning you.
Well it’s like, if you’re not your biggest fan, how do you expect other people to get behind you?
Yeah, like my music is really geared for everybody in the sense that there’s a piece of truth that I put into my music that people can connect to. So it’s like, if you’re not about the hipster life and knowing about brands and what’s happening in that world, as much as that’s referenced, at the same point in time there’s the story of the human dynamic of just being able to say, “I’m owning who I am.”
Yeah. I think there’s those foundational human experiences that no matter who you are, you can empathize with that feeling of whatever it is—like, jealousy or love, or just those intensities.
Yeah, like everybody has had their heart broken, or everybody’s wanted somebody that they had to figure out how to—like, how do we make that come to life? Or like, people have looked at their dreams and been like, “Alright I’m in a job I fucking hate like, how do I get out of that?” Those threads and needs are so real for everybody, you know?
Right. So, obviously Los City is coming out, but what have you got in the pipeline for the rest of the year?
So, the album is coming out, I’ve dropped the singles that I have, and now I’m going to put out some EP’s—I would love to do a classic ’90s, like maybe four records from the ’90s that I love and just do some remixes. I think remixes are really cool, so I’m gonna throw out some remixes, the Los City lookbook is gonna come out, and I’m really excited about that. It’s taking on its own movement and l’m really pushing that. And then shows-wise, I’m on the road. I’ve got a couple of New York shows, Europe is definitely a platform that—I was just there two months ago, I did a couple of shows and I’m gonna go back. So, between the project coming up, the lookbook coming out, shooting a new video—directing a new video for the next single—and then hitting the road.
Stay tuned to Milk for more from NYC natives.