From Lexicon to Lex Lafoy: How the Queenbird Took Flight

Lex Lafoy talks learning and unlearning, confidence and self-love, and making the shift from Lexicon the Poet to the Queen Bee of Honey Bass with Leah Jasmine.


Photo by Llwellyn ‘Juice’ Makhanya


As I step into Lex Lafoy’s house in Morningside I feel like I’m being hosted by someone who is wearing themselves like a jacket. Her gold hoop earrings and tight black dress give the impression of a lady who has shit to do, but her smiling eyes welcome me as though she has all the time in the world. Her voice is sweet but substantial when she speaks and we talk for over an hour, because I simply can’t stop listening to the words dripping from her mouth.


DIY: What is Honey Bass and why is it so different from Lexicon?

Lex: I am Honey Bass. It’s is my sound, my genre, it’s the sweet vocals over bassy tracks, it’s the name of my album, it’s my skin. [As Lexicon] I was saturated with the idea of consciousness and I thought to myself, enough with the theory. I was bouncing between hip hop and poetry as Lexicon, and there was a whole lot going on while I was trying to be Ash-Leigh at home and I needed to explore each part of myself in order for the integration to take place. I felt that I got to the peak of what Lexicon stood for. I was hungry for newness and I wanted to enjoy my art again because I felt I had liberated myself by leaving a system only to join a new system, no matter how “underground” and “conscious” I thought it was. When I discovered Ewe [by iFani] it epitomised an energy that I longed for but couldn’t place until then. Before then I only knew boombap, but I wanted a merging; I wanted content but I wanted it to be fun. I wanted something rich but audible, and all those things came together in Honey Bass.


DIY: And how did that influence the shoot you did for the album – that must have been quite a process getting covered in honey?

Lex: I originally wanted the artwork to look like I was climbing out of a giant honey jar, but when I priced bottles… [she laughs] and I thought no it’s fine let me just work with what I have. I’ve worked with Juice a few times, he’s seen me on stage, he’s seen me vulnerable, he’s seen me as a mom and there’s little space for pretense with us, we’re comfortable and I don’t hold back. So we’re really comfortable with one another, he captures me in my truest form. I got completely covered in real honey for the shoot.




DIY: You speak a lot about focusing on your own shit in this album, specifically in W.I.T.O.T.W.S when you say “He asked me where I hangout, I said I don’t,” how do you stay motivated to do that?

Lex: I mean that question, I was in Joburg and I had just moved back home to finish the album. Somebody’s manager, some A-lister asked me where I hangout and I said I actually don’t. I’m working all the time, because I keep experiencing these conscious awakenings that make me go, wait, where do these ideas that I carry come from? And I have to explore them. In the beginning I expected my family to fully support me but there are certain realities that are new to them. I have to drive my own dreams, I can’t expect my family to push me forward.


DIY: You shoutout to a few local ladies like Moonchild, Busiswa, Otarel and Toya Delazy in Queenbird. Which other women inspire you locally and internationally?

Lex: I love Yolandi Vi$$er. I love her so bad.

And then there’s Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged, who is known as the Mother of Objectivism and I found resonance with her thoughts in terms of the basis of understanding of self. If you ascribe evil and condemn your very existence it’s hard to believe in the power of your creations thereafter because if you start from a place of condemnation and judgement on your own self, body and ideas, then you’re saying what good can come of this? You have to build your identity and sense of self from your own feeling of goodness and wholeness, and everything thereafter follows that tone.


DIY: You come across as really sex-positive in your album and public life. Where does that come from and what’s the message you’re trying to convey?

Lex: I do a lot of NGO work, and the focus is HIV prevention in sports and arts and culture. I think a lot of people start from a standpoint of “I am born with a sin, my body is evil, sex is evil” then everything from there is tainted but if you scratch that out and say “I am amazing, I am made out of love, I am a product of love, my body is divine” surely anything that I do in that pure mindset is pure and not evil? I’ve been on both ends of the spectrum, my late Xhosa grandmother said to me at a time where I was covering a lot of my body, “If you have a beautiful body, show it.” It’s helped me feel closer to the African side of my culture. As I started opening up to broader perspectives about the self, about nudity, about sexuality, I realised there was a certain pride about one’s body as a woman that I was free to explore without the guilt that’s often prescribed to it. I do this in celebration of myself.



DIY: In SMYN (show me your number) you mention being raised by a single mom. You’re a parent, how is the way you’re raising your kid different to how you were raised?

Lex: I try to affirm her positively, but she has to experience the dark in order to know the light. I’m only learning myself more now because of what I went through. She wants to feel that “normal” experience and I fully support her in whatever she wants to do. She’s shy, and I used to be shy, I’m still a little shy, but every time I get on stage I overcome it. I’m teaching her that each time I am courageous I overcome fear. That’s the example I’m setting for her.


DIY: What does it mean for you to support the women around you?

Lex: I love women. I just love them so much. We are like works of art, we don’t need to be compared to justify our beauty but we compare ourselves so quickly. I started Sister Sundays in Joburg out of a familial need in my own life. I was away from home and I found a lot of people to be full of layers, so when I met someone real I wanted to hold onto them and Sister Sundays became a way to make that happen especially for people who were away from their families too. Durban was different though, so that’s why I started Good Vibes and Music [every Friday at Distillery 031’s rooftop where women have a platform to learn to DJ and practice]. Eventually I want to have an annual get-together that’s somewhere in the middle, but I don’t want to share too much about it yet.


DIY: How has the transition from Lexicon to Lex Lafoy been received?

Lex: I wanted to go back to high energy and my performances started to get really fun again, and people who had come to expect so much of Lexicon where like “Ayi Lexicon whatchu doing whatchu doing” and I had to be like “No, fuck that, this is my growth, my mission, and y’all are not going to hold me back.” I’m not going to live up to your expectations of me, you’re putting Lexicon in a box. So that led to letting go of the name Lexicon; that was one chapter and now it’s a different chapter.  


Lex Lafoy’s album Honey Bass is available for download on all major streaming platforms.

All images by Llwellyn ‘Juice’ Makhanya. Follow him on Instagram.

One Response to “From Lexicon to Lex Lafoy: How the Queenbird Took Flight”
  1. Dj Q1 says:

    Always been a fan of Lex, much love la familia. Dope interview!

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