Today’s interview is with the one and only Madison Stewart, otherwise known as Light Skin Trouble or LST. Folks, you should judge the book by its cover with this one cause all the awesomeness you see is what you’re gonna get. Though with him it’s more like the gift that keeps on giving: he raps, dances, produces, and does it all simultaneously with his unique flare and style. He’s not just dripping swagu, he’s mass producing it like the Steve Jobs of swag.
JF-Your sound is very unique. Hip hop is unlike any other genre. Was it difficult to know what genre you wanted to be involved with? Do you ever dabble in other genres?
MS-When I was fifteen, I got into Krump (Buck) dancing in L.A. and I naturally gravitated towards hip hop. I never had a CD player or iPod so I learned to beatbox instead. That way I could practice whenever I wanted to. At every dance session there were just as many rap battles as dance battles, and they always needed someone to beatbox. That was me, until one of my homeboys forced me to jump in and freestyle. The rush I got from it was crazy, and I’ve rapped ever since then. That’s when I chose hip hop, and though I do try to incorporate sound from other genres in the music that I’m working on now, I’ve never concretely worked in any other genre.
JF-What do you do to keep your ‘fro lookin’ so nice? What is your secret?
MS-Typically I let my ‘fro do its own thing. Sometimes I work with it to get some compromise between neatness and chaos, but more often than not, my fro preparation is one step long: wake up.
JF-Haha. Not fair. So what about under the ‘fro? The lyrics you come up with are deep and high impact. They flow nicely. So… what do you do when you get song-writer’s block? Or do you even get song-writer’s block? (Is that even possible for you?)
MS-Haha yes, I do get writer’s block sometimes. I usually get stuck when I’m still deciding where I think the verse should go and what exactly I’m trying to say. I tend to write a lot of different ideas down and then put them together and edit, but when I’m on, I’m on, and can really kill a verse straight through.
JF- Wish that happened to me. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re based in New York. How has the environment influenced your beats?
MS-Living in New York has brought me into contact with some serious diversity (of lifestyle, background, and sound, most importantly.) Being here, seeing and hearing the types of music that get different groups of people moving have definitely broadened my perspective on what sounds good and what’s exciting to listen to. It’s made me more open to what I can do with my music and what approaches to take when I’m writing lyrics or working on an instrumental.
JF-What is next for you? You’re performing a lot lately, right? Tell us what is going on with you!
MS-Right now I’m focused on further developing my sound when it comes to the type of beats I’m using, the way I approach the mic and also entertaining a crowd live. I’ve had some awesome performances the past two months at places like the Brooklyn Bowl, Cameo and Le Poisson Rouge Gallery. I have another coming up this Sunday back at Cameo in Williamsburg. For all New York readers interested in coming, here’s the event page!
JF-Awesome! I wish I was near the east coast! You still have fans on the west coast apparently, as well: “He is one of the most talented guys I know. He raps, produces, writes, dances…” I’m quoting a fan of yours. So you can do it all, but what do you enjoy the most? Is one more of a priority over the rest?
MS-The lyrics are my first priority because they are the message. Dancing comes second because it comes into play in everything I do. It’s the background that directs my choice of instrumentals, flow, style … everything. I’m newest to producing, but I think you can expect some heat in that area soon as well.
JF-Looking forward to it. Now… Light Skinned Trouble…? Can you elaborate on that title a bit?
MS-To make a long story short, one of my close friends and I were out one night, and I got into a precarious situation which I narrowly escaped, haha. After we left, my friend turned to me and said “Yoooo, you’re gonna get in LIGHT SKINNED TROUBLE!” I’d never heard that before, and I thought it was so hilarious–nothing had described my life so well. Growing up half black and white led to constant questions about my identity, especially when I was younger. For me nothing represented that experience more than the name LST. I adjusted it later to Light Skin Trouble because I think it better represents the trouble I’ve had and the trouble I am, Madison|LST.
JF-A lot of ladies swoon over you and your swag persona. What have you to say to the countless ladies who want to run their hair through your ‘fro? After performances, do you set up a kissing booth where the merchandise is set up or…? And if not, how can we get you to make that type of arrangement?
MS-Haha noooo, I’ve never done that but I’d be open to negotiations regarding Afro merchandise. Kissing booths, on the other hand, sound like more trouble than I’m ready for haha.
JF- Ha. Back to music, what kind of music do you listen to? What have your ears been turning to lately?
MS-I started DJing some around the city, and all the places I spin are interested in different sound so I’ve gotten into all kinds of music really. House, indie, disco, rock, everything. It’s hard for me to even pinpoint specific genres since at times it seems like all of them are melting together now. All I know is if my feet react, it’s on.
I’ve also been listening to a bunch of new hip hop artists like Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, Stalley, Kids These Days and Chance the Rapper. It’s really awesome to see new artists taking the scene and doing some really interesting work. They’re creating what hip hop will be in the future, and they’re production is redefining what hip hop’s sound means today.
JF-Where do you think your creative soul roots from? Who/What do you thank for such talents?
MS-My parents are definitely the source of my creativity. They’ve always been so open to differently styles of learning and allowing me to go out on my own with little restriction. They’re extremely creative people themselves. My mom is the definition of an artist, and she really made me believe in following my dreams. My dad is an incredible storyteller and public speaker, and I think my obsession with telling stories in my music and performing on stage is from him. All of my friends in LA as well. They’ve supported me in everything I’ve done whether it was dancing, rapping, or producing. It’s because of them and their support that I am who I am now.
JF- Parents. They influence us more than we will ever know. Do you have any projects going on right now?
MS- I do have this project I’ve been working on with some friends. It’s called Stache House. You’ll just have to check it out, because I can’t do it justice in explaining what it is exactly with words.
JF- Oh! I’m so curious. That will be next thing I do after this! Now, as an artist, what do you hope to ultimately achieve?
MS-I ultimately hope that people can hear something that they can feel. That they can believe in in my music. That they’ll hear my tracks on the radio and feel the beat and the attitude, but in the end, they’ll hear what I have to say. Not only that, but I hope to make a living making music that makes people feel better, get excited and be more able to do what they need and want to do in their lives. I want to make the anthems that help them believe in themselves.
Big plans, and we’ll see what happens soon enough.
JF-Wow, I’m already inspired. I’ll have to go tune into some of your beats now. Thank you so much for your time!
Check out Madison|LST’s music here: