Amber London is not new to Houston’s hip-hop scene. As a teenager who came of age in the late aughts, she recorded her first demo at Elsik High School’s Ninth Grade Center. From there, London continued to hone her lyrical craft while promoting her nostalgic underground image, and cutthroat sound throughout the streets of Southwest Houston.
She went on to become the first and only official female rapper in Raider Klan, former hip-hop collective of independent artists mainly from the South, and has received co-signs from Three 6 Mafia’s legendary Gangsta Boo, among others.
London’s unique sound travels through hip-hop and empowers Black women to stay true to themselves. In a city where there is a much-needed lane for sex-positive female rappers, it’s refreshing to witness a woman capture the essence of Houston through edgy lyricism and raw visual imagery.
We caught up with the 29-year-old "Undaground Queen," to talk about her inspirations and her journey as an independent Houston rap artist.
When did you start creating music and why?
I remember I started writing music around 12 years old. I never considered rapping until I heard my best friend, she did a freestyle on the bus and it went hard! So, I ain’t never thought of rapping until I saw that on the bus, and saw everybody's reaction. I was like, ‘I wanna do that shit, that was live!’ After that, I started writing for real. We got into dissing people we didn’t like at school and started recording it on a tape recorder.
Who were your musical inspirations growing up?
I really listened to whatever my mama had before I got to the age where I could pick the music for myself. She listened to Missy Elliott, Lil Kim, and any Southern club songs. My Uncle listened to a lot of S.U.C. (Screwed Up Click). He used to make me memorize S.U.C. freestyles and they were like 10 minutes long, one of them was DJ Screw’s The Final Chapter. Once I got to the age of looking for music myself I gained interest in B Gizzle (B.G.) and New York and Philly rappers.
What are your thoughts on Houston’s current hip-hop scene?
On a mainstream level, I’m glad to see Megan (Thee Stallion) doing her thing. It gives light to female rappers, which was needed in Texas. I would argue that Texas has some great female rappers just in general. I actually like the way it’s going, and I think it’s still more to be explored. I’m waiting for something different and new to emerge that’s kind of on its own entire wave in the future.
How has the pandemic affected you musically and creatively?
In 2020, it was distracting tryna figure out what the hell was going on. I can’t write music around people, so being isolated is when I get the best content out. If anything, the pandemic gave me a feeling of a renaissance, and an opportunity to make something out of it and get creative.
What's next for you?
Right now, I’m currently working on my brand. As I am getting older I want to have my platform to not just solely be about my music, but other things that I’m passionate about as well. I see myself as being someone who’s bringing light and giving advice, almost becoming a teacher to the game, since I was a student.
I want to give people new ways to think and feel about things that they see around them, including the music industry. I want to spark and plant seeds in people’s heads to stay independent, and don’t sign major labels, and trust yourself, and trust the process. And, be patient.
Stream Amber London’s Greatest Hits Vol.1 & Vol.2 on all music streaming platforms. Also, check out her website.