The Grand Rapids rapper talks about her gang background, her current projects and performs several songs in-studio with DJ Dean Martian and J. Rob in this exclusive Local Spins session.
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When Lady Ace Boogie, aka Linda Tellis, breaks into that signature grin, it says everything about her music, her upbeat attitude, her philosophy, her undeniably charming take on hip hop.
Over the past year or two, this may be the Grand Rapids artist that’s made the biggest impression on West Michigan’s hip hop scene, partly because of her ultra-collaborative nature and partly because her undeniable talent as a wordsmith and rhyme merchant inspires audiences wherever she goes.
That wasn’t always the case for the Grand Rapids rapper and Hot Capicola Records recording artist.
Tellis readily concedes that for years before moving to West Michigan, she was fully immersed in the gang culture of Dayton, Ohio, with her music taking on a “totally different” gangsta rap vibe. Her family had moved to Ohio from West Virginia where Tellis grew up, and she found herself in a “totally different culture and total different environment. I started getting involved with gangs and street life and that kind of sucked me in for a while until about the time I was about 21 years old.”
But after a friend was beaten “to a pulp” by fellow gang members, she began to step away from that lifestyle, eventually meeting someone she calls “the love of my life” and moving to Grand Rapids about six years ago.
In Grand Rapids, she found a supportive hip hop scene – influenced by rappers such as Suport, J. Rob and others – and she began writing songs for her “Feel Good Music” debut album, released in early 2015.
“I was able to switch up my style and switch up my environment and put out good, positive hip hop,” she said during an interview as part of a recent HopCat Presents Local Spins Live at River City Studios session.
“I would have to say it’s really a balance between what people need to hear and what people want to hear.”
REVEALING AND INSPIRING SESSION AT RIVER CITY STUDIOS
Tellis revealed that and much more during a rollicking one-hour interview and performance session that featured DJ Dean Martian and special guest, J. Rob., recorded and filmed in front of a small studio audience at Grand Rapids’ River City Studios.
PODCAST: Local Spins Live @ River City Studios with Lady Ace Boogie
More than anything, this singularly motivated artist – who concedes she was inspired more by rock ‘n’ roll than rap while growing up – strives to be “completely honest” with her music, which means her next project will tackle the challenges she faced in getting to where she is today.
“It’s important for people to hear how I got here and be honest with it. I’m focusing more on telling that story when it wasn’t all good, but telling it in a way that gives people hope in the end – give people some light at the end of the tunnel.”
Before that, however, Lady Ace Boogie is moving ahead on a project with J.Robb under the moniker, The Great Ones, and reveling in Grand Rapids emerging hip hop scene.
“It’s definitely progressed since I’ve been here,” she says of the scene, which has inspired her to continue creating her inspirational songs. “In the meantime, I’m going to keep making music.”
She’ll do that in Grand Rapids on Saturday, when she joins psych-rock band Heaters in a show at Long Road Distillers. 537 Leonard St. NW. The show begins at 8 p.m.; admission is $7. Get details and tickets online here.
Audio produced by Roy Wallace
Video by Brennan Heldt and the River City Studios Video Team
VIDEO: Local Spins Live @ River City Studios with Lady Ace Boogie
PHOTO GALLERY: Lady Ace Boogie at River City Studios
Photos by Anna Sink