Lyric Michelle
Gig Seeker Pro

Lyric Michelle

Los Angeles, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF

Los Angeles, CA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2012
Solo Hip Hop R&B




"Past, present, and future: Hip-hop music continues its amazing odyssey"

On her own two feet: The journey of Lyric Michelle

“I’m African by blood and heritage, American by endurance and strength.”

—Lyric Michelle

It is an annual rite of passage for expatriates from around the globe to seek a better life within the fruited plain of America. For Nigerians, the last few decades have seen them prosper to the point where they are considered the most successful of any new comers to the United States. As with anything however, this path is dotted with trial and tribulation.

For up and coming rapper Lyric Michelle, her quest for fulfillment has been hampered by the well meaning concerns of her parents, and the natural resistance to foreigners in this, the land of “the free.” Born in Chicago to Nigerian immigrants, her family relocated, seeking sanctuary from that city’s historic legacy of violence, specifically to Houston, Texas.

Even then, the transition was rocky, in part by the expectations set by the grown ups in contrast to the artistic sensibilities of their daughter.

“They dreamed of doctors and lawyers as children-winding up with a rapper wasn’t the easiest pill to swallow,” she remembers.

“Across the world, the darkest of us have been the most looked down upon,” she says.

Compounding the fissure was the conflict between westernized concepts of attractiveness and her West African features. This was offset by a large and nurturing extended family.

“…though the world told me my Black wasn’t beautiful as a kid, I would leave school and go to a wedding or celebration and be in another world.

Like most kids their age regardless of nationality, she and her siblings were bombarded with hip hop culture. Though her siblings appeased the parental desire to confront to stability, Lyric marched to a different drummer. The urge to create drove her into poetry and on to spoken word with a kindred spirit in a writing partner who later moved to New York. In her absence, Lyric found her own voice rapping over music, and keeping late hours performing at poetry slams and in recording studios, to the displease of her mom and dad.

In time, the friction with her parents led to her being thrown out of the house. This led to a series of abusive boyfriends, sleeping on sofas, homelessness, brief incarceration, and the professional hurdle of being taken as a sex object instead of a relevant artist.

This week, Lyric, who was in L.A. for a photo shot with Nike, broke away from her busy schedule to reflect on her artistic path thus far.

“Across the world, the darkest of us have been the most looked down upon,” she says, “…but that connection of endurance and pride crosses man made boundaries for me.”

Today she bounces between Houston and Los Angeles in her pursuit of her dramatic/musical aspirations

In a nutshell, Lyric’s life-and her music-involves her search for autonomy. She believes these travails have given her music more depth.

Just as her pursuit of her art has been cathartic in addressing her personal issues, she hopes it can help others.

“I want to effect as many live as I can in a positive way.”

Lyric Michelle will perform a soundtrack over an art exhibition at the Red Bull sponsored "Sip and Drip" tonight at 7 p.m. at 3801 S. Main St. For more information, go to her website at: - Our Weekly Los Angeles

"Lyric Michelle Gets Some Things Off Her Chest In "Free Thoughts Freestyle" Video"

Earlier this month, Lyric Michelle dazzled at SXSW as part of HipHopDX’s Rap Rising showcase. Now, she’s giving listeners who weren’t in attendance the opportunity to discover her talents with the “Free Thoughts Freestyle” video.

Michelle posts up with her crew inside a garage, spitting about the various topics on her mind in this new visual. From love life drama to frustrations over being told her rapping prowess is “nice for a female,” she’s unafraid to broach any subject on this Chris Rockaway production.

Watch “Free Thoughts Freestyle” above. - HipHopDX

"Countdown To HipHopDX At SXSW: Lyric Michelle"

Houston’s Lyric Michelle has received plenty of critical acclaim in her hometown, being awarded “Best Lyrics” by the Houston Press and releasing the city’s best album — the Chris Rockaway-produced Miss Direction — in 2016 according to the Houston Chronicle. She got her start in poetry before eventually making her way to Hip Hop after releasing a cover of J. Cole’s “Light Please.” For Michelle, her career isn’t just about creating great music but also paving the way for more female rap voices.

As Michelle prepares to take the SXSW stage, HipHopDX was able to chat with her to see what she’s looking forward to at this year’s festival.

HipHopDX: Have you ever performed at SXSW before? If so, what makes this year different than previous ones?

Lyric Michelle: Yes! I’ve performed for the last few years, and it’s always an annual goal of mine. Being from Houston, it’s so close to home. This year, I’m coming from an extended stay in L.A. where I was able to spend time working on amazing new music, new styles and really perfecting my craft. My last project was named #1 by the Houston Chronicle, so I’m extremely excited to release the new EP. I want to share my truth and rock the hell out of that stage.

What are you most excited about performing at the festival?

I’m very excited about the HipHopDX show, such a talented group of artists. I can’t wait to rock the crowd at The Parish, such a very dope venue.

Do you plan on watching other performances? Which one are you most likely to see?

I plan on watching as many performances as I can, but I haven’t narrowed my list down. I’m focused on my performance and after, I’d like to see where the night takes me.

What’s been the best and/or worst part of preparing for the performances?

The worst part can be travel. I perform with a live band when I can and coordinating travel and accommodations can be tricky. But the best part of preparing for a performance is that moment when you know you have all the songs and technical parts down. That’s the point where you can start having fun, that’s when I know I’m ready.

There are thousands of artists performing at SXSW. Why should people come and see you perform?

Coming from a place of true honest artistic expression … and bars. [laughs] I honestly believe you’d be blown away. I think my music is really relatable.

What was your first show outside your hometown and what was the best memory of it?

I’m pretty sure my first performance outside of my hometown was in Austin, Texas. Such a wonderful experience that still kind of felt like home. I opened for Talib Kweli, and it was the biggest crowd I’d ever seen; really a great night.

What was your first paid gig?

My first paid gig was in Houston, Texas. I had been going to a weekly open mic/cypher called Kickback Sundays and that’s where I first started to get noticed. I think after I won that competition, I immediately was booked for like three shows in one week and I loved every second of that stress.

What was the best article you’ve ever read in HipHopDX? Did you agree or disagree with it?

I’ve been fortunate enough to have been posted on DX before, and I’ve been following a lot of your segments for a while now. I’m a huge fan, but the recent article on Diddy saying there are too many rappers really got me thinking. Do I agree? Naw, not at all. I feel like the more you have, the greater the chance is that you’ll find greatness. I think the problem lies with the people who are able to make a difference. To say everyone sounds the same is to admit you’re not looking hard enough. If you rely on likes and retweets from DJ Akademiks then yeah, I’m sure you think there are too many rappers that all sound the same. But the internet isn’t real. It shouldn’t be treated like the only metric available to discover talent. It’s dope to be able to have that type of reach, but it shouldn’t be the end all be all. I’ve been performing for years; I see greatness every day, and it inspires me to be better.

If you could let your fans know one unique fact about yourself, what would it be?

My middle name is Nigerian and is Orgadimma. I used to hate it when I was a kid and I was low-key ashamed. But now, I love it. Or-gah-ah-deem-mah means ‘it will all be well” in Igbo.

Check out Lyric Michelle at DX’s Rap Rising showcase at SXSW on March 16 at The Parish. - HipHopDX

"Lyric Michelle makes a big, brief impression at Super Bowl LIVE"

Lyric Michelle made the most of a brief set during Sunday's edition of Super Bowl LIVE at Discovery Green.

The hip-hop poet blazed through a 25-minute set of originals on the main stage. It was built on tracks from 2016's "Miss Direction," which topped an impressive year of local albums.

Among Lyric's many gifts is her delivery. She has a way of communicating larger messages -- on race, womanhood, survival -- in pointed, specific ways that resonate in very real ways.

There's a rasp in her voice that also gives every word added urgency.

She debuted a new song, "Woke," that hinted at the rousing sound of an upcoming album. She recently entered the song in NPR's Tiny Desk Contest.

It's only a matter of time before Lyric Michelle's songs become anthems that resonate far beyond the city limits. - Houston Chronicle

"12 of the year's best Houston albums"

1. "Miss Direction," Lyric Michelle: The year's best homegrown album was this tour-de-force from Michelle Umeh, who records as Lyric Michelle. It's a blazing reflection of every facet of her personality and the world at large: heartbreak and hope, anger and euphoria. She's a poet with a fierce flow. - Houston Chronicle

"Lyric Michelle Wants To See Paris in The Summer [VIDEO]"

Chicago born, Houston bred artist Lyric Michelle is back after a brief hiatus with a visual interpolation of Alessia Cara's "Here," a personal favorite of hers. In Lyric's version, she explains that although her heart belongs to her city, she needs to see other cities. Tag that relationship "complicated." Lyric lives to perform and as you watch "Wanderlust" unfold, it isn't hard to see that on stage is simply where she belongs. She owns it and the live experience transforms her. Having graced stages everywhere from SXSW to Pop Montreal, Lyric delivers an incredibly polished, live-band show that we highly recommend you catch if you have the chance. Until then, enjoy the video. - HipHopDX

"Rapper Michelle Umeh is choosing her own rules"

"MissDirection" is a jarring album, provocative and dense with its examination of self and culture. It also reflects Umeh's own development as a magician of sorts. The child of Nigerian immigrants, she spent her youth feeling like an outcast, eventually summoning up the nerve to take her poetry to public stages and, ultimately, finding an assertive stage voice in music that has made her a talent on the brink of a national breakout. Having just released "MissDirection," Lyric Michelle looks poised for a big breakout next month at the South By Southwest Music Conference and beyond. Hers is one of the most striking albums released thus far in the new year." - Houston Chronicle

"Lyric Michelle Lifts a Live Crowd at Walters"

By the time I got to Walters last night, most of the coolest, sharpest people in Houston’s underground hip-hop scene were already inside. Quite a few of them were scheduled to take the stage at some point, but plenty more just came to hang out, smoke a little and support one of their own best and brightest in particular. Lyric Michelle, the Nigerian-American MC who has made a home in Houston by way of Chicago, was releasing her most personal and polished album yet, and everybody was buzzing to hear her new tunes performed with a live band.

It certainly didn’t hurt that the release party’s lineup was pretty damn stacked. The first artist of the night was Corbin Dallas, who unleashed a very fine voice on a couple of dreamy R&B lullabies from outer space to start. He was backed by Avery Davis of –Us on the sequencer and drum pad, as well as a guitarist whose name I didn’t catch. They sounded great together, with just the right depth of reverb applied to Dallas’ sweet vocals. The house beats of “Red Hot” got the blood moving in the crowd, and then the singer brought out his Twenty Eleven group mates Brad Gilmore and Tre Yancy to deliver some slick rhymes. It was a terrific opener.

Kyle Hubbard was up next, and while the local rapper didn’t bring a band with him, he did bring a slew of guests through. Accompanied by the scratches of DJ Discipline, Hubbard was joined by the likes of Full Metal, Raymond A. and Chase Hamblin as he delivered the tracks from last year’s dope Majestic Hotel album. I still can’t quite tell if my favorite song from his new set is the jazzy, stylish “Rip the Page” or the bittersweet, psychedelic “Not Without a Scar.” Hamblin killed his choruses on the latter, audibly impressing the ladies in the crowd in particular. Hubbard kinda had to close with that one — it’s pretty hard to top.

“Make some noise, goddammit,” Hubbard ordered the crowd. “You don’t hear shit like this every day!” And people did, because they don’t.

While the stage was primed for Lyric, folks chatted up fellow scenesters outside on the loading dock, passing a blunt or two and networking furiously. It was a happy crowd, buoyed by the impressive turnout and performances so far. Once the band started tuning up, though, people put a pin in their conversations and headed indoors to get a good spot. This was Lyric Michelle’s night, and considering the creative energy crackling through the place, there was little doubt among us that she was about to bring it.

The guitars and drums lent a much-needed weight to Michelle’s MissDirection “Intro,” literally hammering home her poetic lyrics. The live band was an outstanding choice, but all eyes were on the headliner as she delivered heartfelt, personal rhymes. The pretty MC’s enormous hair and charming smile were lit almost solely by the colorful, staticky video projections that provided her backdrop for the evening. There was a dark, cozy and intimate feel inside Walters as Michelle started us on our journey through her pain and triumph.

MissDirection, her second LP, tells the story of Lyric Michelle’s struggle for purpose as a child of immigrants pursuing a passion that her family will never fully understand. An early highlight of the set was the jazzy, funky “Weekend (Ladi Dadi),” exploring Lyric’s search for love and truth in all the wrong places (and, one suspects, men). Ashley Toman sounded terrific on backing vocals all night, but Michelle brought up a couple of ringers to shine on my favorite jams of the night. Suffers singer Kam Franklin’s easy star power rubbed off on the rapper beautifully on “Berries,” and Suraiye’s soulful, vulnerable voice had couples swaying and nuzzling together in the dark on “Empathy.”

As righteous self-awareness flowed out of Lyric Michelle, the healing was evident in her words and body language. Though she’d dealt in some weighty subject matter in her rhymes, she was all smiles by the time set-closer “Missdirection” rolled around, dancing and rapping with plain joy. There would be an encore to come, even though she didn’t need one. Michelle had already proven her status as one of the H-Town underground’s brightest talents. But when it’s your night and you find yourself rocking a large percentage of the dopest cats in town, hell…who can stop you?

Personal Bias: Typically more well-versed in barely conscious rap.

The Crowd: Thick and sociable.

Overheard in the Crowd: “Yo, I’m a producer, too!”

Random Notebook Dump: I haven’t seen a lot of hip-hop shows at Walters, which is more frequently the home of Houston’s hardcore scene. But when one pops up, it’s always a really good one. Nice job as usual by soundman Terry Nunn. - Houston Press

"See it First: Lyric Michelle"

If Lyric Michelle were a chef, her specialty would be food for thought. The Chicago-born, Houston-raised poet, singer and MC makes a powerful statement about love in her latest song and video, "The Motive," - Rolling Stone

"Lyric Michelle Complains About Blah, Blah, Blah Raps on ‘This and That’"

Don’t let Lyric Michelle’s cute face and thin waist fool you. She’s not the type to dedicate all of her rhymes to Christian Louboutin shoes and Hermes bags. Her message is so important that she slams meaningless raps on her new single “This & That.”

On the song, the poet and MC complains about hip-hop’s current status quo that prioritizes a dope track and chorus over substance.

She raps, “Blah, blah, blah. This and that. Nobody gives a damn ‘less the hook it hot, and the beat gon’ drop, gon’ bob ya head. Didn’t hear any single word I said, but the hook is hot.”

The independent artist says that while she likes to party and have fun, she doesn’t understand why so many people accept being one-dimensional. “I feel like people don’t care, I could read you my grocery list, but if it’s popping. It’s gone make some bread,” she tells me after performing at a South by Southwest barbeque at the Frontier Bar in Austin.

In the song’s second verse, Lyric says that the storylines that do exist in mainstream rap glorify ignorance.

“Now, a rapper said you ain’t sh-t unless you push expensive whips. You put 22s on a Honda that is used. You got a lot of debt, you won’t sing the blues. You’d rather turn the radio up and listen to these tunes, that say, ‘Blah, blah, blah …,’” she rhymes.

But Lyric won’t just spend her time on the mic complaining. She’s offering a solution and promises to “feed us the truth.” She promises, “As you follow me. I will lead you to enlightenment.”

Lyric’s a smart woman. She knows her pretty face will help bring attention to her cause. But she also knows that she’s fighting a tough battle.

For emphasis, she repeated one particular line a few times during her impressive set at the Frontier Bar. “Only half of y’all are listening, the rest want to see me twerk,” she said with a lot of sarcasm.

Gotta love her honesty. - Rolling Stone


2016 - Miss Direction

2012 - As If I Was a Child (mixtape)



Chicago bred and Houston raised, the music of Lyric Michelle fuses southern charm, a touch of poetry, and a blast of ferocious lyricism to deliver a sound that is uniquely her own.  While initially getting her start in the poetry world, it would eventually be music that would steal her heart, as she smoothly transitioned from penning prose to spitting bars.

After bursting onto the Houston music scene in 2011 with a cover of J. Cole’s “Lights Please”, Lyric quickly gained momentum, as well as a cult following of sorts, after opening for or performing alongside artists including Travis Scott, Talib Kweli, Jay Electronica, Joe Budden, Casey Veggies, Jean Grae, and NAO to name a few.

Lyric has been selected as a Pop Montreal Festival Artist and has had repeated appearances as an official SXSW and A3C performer.  In 2016, Lyric released her first album “Miss Direction”.  She was voted Best Lyricist by the Houston Press, and her album was rated the city’s Best Album by the Houston Chronicle that year as well.

For Lyric it’s not just about the music; it’s about opening doors for a new crop of female emcees intent on proving that when it comes to lyrical skill that they can go toe to toe with any man.  Now based in Los Angeles, she continues to do just that while conquering new ground in the LA hip hop circuit, while working on a fresh dose of songs for her next upcoming album.

Band Members