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The X Factor

The X Factor’s Lyric Da Queen on Revolutionizing Radio, Sharing the Mic, and the Story Behind Her Signature Eye Patch — Exclusive

A little overshare to start things off: we at Wetpaint are obsessed with X Factor Season 2 contestant Lyric Da Queen. We have been since we first heard her name and, after talking with her about her group Lyric 145, we are likely to continue our musical crush on her forever. Here’s why:

Hey Lyric, how’s it going? Can you tell we’re obsessed with you (laughs)?
I’m excited. I see the website all the time. Even before the actual auditions, that was one of the sights that I’d seen that had actual positive things to say about what I could possibly bring to the competition and what I could do. I definitely remember that.

Good. Even the people who cover other shows ask about you, like “What’s the deal with the girl with the eyepatch?” We love the way you’ve made it a brand. Can you tell us the story behind it?
Yeah, the eyepatch was actually something I was really ashamed of when I found out I had to wear it. Now it’s just become this thing. In 2008 I went completely blind because of a condition called keratoconus. What happened was my eyes both turned gray and the cornea was inflated. So I had a cornea transplant then like three days before my first audition, an incident happened in LA and I ended up going into emergency surgery on my left eye. So now I don’t have my vision again in my left eye, and I don’t have my iris — which is the colored part. It’s black instead of brown — and I don’t have my lens. My cornea did get stitched and I’m going through a healing process right now. I pretty much wear the patch for protection and my eye’s extremely sensitive to light because I don’t have an iris.

I was actually supposed to be in the hospital for 2 ½ weeks, but I ended up discharging myself like three days after the incident because I had to audition for The X Factor. I was so discouraged, cuz at my first audition I had like a plastic patch over my eye with tape on it.

It looks baller. It’s a harrowing story, but it’s a good look. I bet there will be a few Lyric Da Queen kids out for Halloween.
Yeah, I’ve already got a few pictures (laughs). Eyepatches with skull and bones.

You’re a badass rapper and MC. Where’d that come from?
It started young. It was one of those things that kind of chose me. I was like eight and I wrote my mother like a book of songs — not just rap songs, but country songs, rock songs, R&B songs, every type of genre. It’s funny because I wrote this book and you can actually tell the difference between them. I think she still has it. So, like, ever since then, music has been my obsession. Whatever I was going through, I was writing music, like in elementary school. And since then, it’s been non-stop.

Do you play instruments, too, or is it mainly your voice? Do you sing?
No, I don’t play instruments but I write every single genre of music. I don’t sing it as far as recording it, but I can sing it for the artist so they’d know how it should be sung.

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Rad. Have you sold any of your songs?
Yeah, I have. Not to anyone you would probably know, but quite a few people I’ve been a ghostwriter for. It’s definitely something I’m looking into for the mainstream.

That’s good. If you listen to a lot of what’s on the radio, we could use some good songwriters (both laugh).
Yeah, hopefully I can change that.

What was the feeling when you didn’t make it through as an individual, but rather as a group with One4Five?
I mean, initially in the first ten seconds, I was like “I’m being put in a group? Nah, you can’t be serious.” I’ve been a solo artist all my life but I had to really take in what was going on. Ya feel me? I looked at who they were going to put me in a group with, and I thought “Oh, this might actually work.” The chemistry between me and the guys is so real it’s not even funny. Before we were even put in a group, we had mad chemistry. We come from the same background, we like the same music, our views on life are pretty much the same — it’s like pieces of a puzzle.

Yeah, your Judges’ House performance was incredibly tight. How did you choose the song “Party in the USA” and how did it all come together?
We wanted to do something unexpected, ya know what I’m sayin? You see three rappers, you pretty much know what to expect. So I wanted to be when that beat dropped in the beginning, I wanted it to be like “are they seriously doing this song?” I wanted to show how diverse we were when it comes to music.

Can you define your sound or what you want to sound like?
I think what we’re trying to do is create a hip pop sound, ya know what I’m saying? Cuz it’s always extremely pop or extremely hip hop. I think what we are going to do is get the pop audience, but we’re gonna get the hip hop respect. We’re still going to concentrate on the lyrical side of the music. It’s not just “cat, bat, hat”-type rap. There’ll be messages in what we talk about, but you’ll still be able to dance to it. Ya know what I’m saying? Have fun with it.

Totally. What kind of artists have influenced you and the guys?
Well, my favorite rappers are Jadakiss, Andre 3000, and Eminem. I’m influenced by Jadakiss because he created some of the different rhyme schemes some of the greatest artists use today — even though he doesn’t always get credit for it, he created some of those different structures and ways to rap.

Eminem made it okay to tell the truth. He say things and you know he’s not lying. He tells you the truth, whether you like it or not. Andre 3000 brought the creative side to rap — he made it fun and made it so you have to think about what he’s saying. For me, I’m incorporated with all of them.

The boys like them as well. And they’re from New York, so they’re big fans of, like, Naughty by Nature. We’re a correlation of all those artists into one.

What’s the feeling within the group in terms of who’s the main MC, or do you have defined roles?
Honestly, we try to keep it real. I don’t look at anybody as the main person. I don’t really know how the public views it, but when we do a song, he gets 8 bars, he gets 8 bars, I get 8 bars. It’s not like “you’re doing way more and you’re doing the background.” However the public views it is how they view it. We try to keep it so no one’s getting a shot more than another.

It’s tough because with X Factor, the editing makes it a little different. Do you think maybe you’ve gotten more screentime?
I think the eyepatch is making me stand out.

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Do you guys fight?
No, we really don’t. They brothers, so you know how brothers are. Between us, it’s all vibin’ and chillin’. We it. I think of them like my brothers. Like, if I walk by, I can punch em in the stomach and be like “get outta my face.” We’re like brothers and sisters. You know, maybe we will one day, but right now a couple weeks in, we’re good.

If you guys don’t make it, will you stay together?
Actually, I think so. At first I was thinking it was just an X Factor thing. But the more we’ve been together, the more I thought about it, I think so. It has the power to extend our career. We can stay together a couple years as a group — now we have time to evolve and become solo artists if we want to. It just adds a couple years to the game. I definitely wouldn’t mind staying together as a group for a few years after.

What’s your interaction with Simon been like?
Oh man, Simon is surprisingly really nice. Like, he is. I just respect him for having the vision that he has. Like, he just put together the biggest group in the world. Cuz it is hard being strangers and getting meshed together and expecting it to work. When you look at somebody with that type of resume, you kind of respect his judgement, and that’s what he stressed to us. That’s what I’m thinking about — I’m gonna respect his judgement and make it in my head that this is gonna work. It’s been cool working with him, cuz I know what he sees.

They don’t show a lot on the Judges’ Houses of the groups interacting with the judges. How much time had you spent with Simon then, and how much time have you spent since then?
Well, like on the group, we didn’t spend a whole whole lot of time with him. Cuz really, it’s not Simon that we needed to spend time with. It’s the voice coaches and choreographers and stuff like that, ya feel me? He kinda needs to oversee stuff and give us the wisdom. Simon isn’t a choreographer. He isn’t a voice coach. At this point, we’ll probably spend way more time with him than at Judges’ Houses. Now, it’s like we’re on his team. He’s going to oversee what we do for the world.

Who do you think is your fiercest competition on the show?
I don’t know, it’s hard for me to answer questions like that. Everybody’s competition because we’re rappers going against a bunch of singers. That can be an advantage or a disadvantage. We’ll go up there and give it our all for everyone to see, and hope they want to see rappers. Judges’ Houses are such a paeon compared to what we gonna do on live shows.

Do you have anything planned that you can tell us about?
I’ll tell you this. We about to hype up to the max. Expect the unexpected -- everything from the eyepatch to the clothes to the energy level. It’s bout to be through the roof. It’s going down.

One more question. Are you guys dating anyone?
No, no dating anyone. Just rehearsal. If we wanted to date anyone, I don’t think we could. It’s total focus going on right now.

Thanks so much for your time, Lyric, we’ll be rooting for you guys.
Thank you.

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