Words by:
Photography: Ciesay
Director and Creative Producer: TJ Sawyerr
Stylist: Connor Gaffe
Styling Assistant: Austin Dillon
Grooming: Karla Q Leon
Barber: @celebraidsuk
Hair and Makeup Assistant: Catherine Sarria
Production Assistant: Masaiya
All Clothing: Sourced via Cloakroom Archive

My journey to meet Jim Legxacy is interrupted by a WhatsApp message from his manager. “This is going to be us,” the transmission reads.

What appears on screen is raw footage from a forthcoming video for the song Block Hug, from Legxacy’s latest album Homeless N**** Pop Music (HNPM). The clip sees the rapper slash producer and his crew tearing through Lewisham on Lime bikes, captured on the day of the video shoot by the tried and tested method of holding up a phone and hitting record. Turns out, the same app-accessible cycles are to be our mode of transport today.

JIM LEGXACY wears Jacket: Stone Island

If Nas’ Illmatic sketched a picture of his native Queensbridge in the mid-90s, and David Bowie’s Heroes was like an eyedropper tool atmosphere-matching Berlin in 1977, then Legxacy’s third full-length, HNPM, delivers a similarly vivid snapshot of modern-day Lewisham. Laid down by a kid born in the local hospital and raised in a household of Nigerian descent, the tape plays like an anthology of stories from southeast London’s streets, with a cover featuring spliced images of the community for extra home pride. Legxacy’s soulful psalms meld together various strands of rap, emo, pop, glitch, lo-fi and the melodic spirit of Drake. He sometimes raps, but more often sings in a spider-web-soft style, spinning his narratives with vocal runs that feel as though they could evaporate at any moment. Yet the undeniable prettiness of HNPM belies the fact that it was recorded as Legxacy endured a period of homelessness, relying on friends in the area to give him a roof over his head to sleep and record.

Charioting me to the meet-up is the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), a train that conjures strange recollections. Almost a decade ago, I was part of a small group of journalists invited to London to bear witness to the regeneration of sections of the city that the 2012 Summer Olympics had stimulated. The UK government was determined not to repeat the mistakes of previous host cities, where glimmering new infrastructure was left to decay once the last medal was hung around its recipient’s neck. “Legacy” was a word you heard a lot.

It was stressed that critical to London’s future was both the DLR and an under-construction train service then-called Crossrail, and since renamed the Elizabeth Line. From its inauguration in 1987, the DLR expanded to offer access to the city’s financial districts. The line slices through new-fashioned Canary Wharf, gliding over water on high viaducts, under the shade of tall glass and steel buildings that house the world’s largest financial conglomerates. The train’s windows are large and spacious, as though designed to allow the best possible view of these monuments to capitalism. The final stop is Lewisham station.

JIM LEGXACY wears Jacket: Stone Island, Trousers: Polo Sport Ralph Lauren

Legxacy’s manager appears at my stop and we trek to the nearby Lewisham Shopping Centre. He points out the largest police station in Europe located nearby, expressing relief that the cops never come out to stop them shooting their videos. As for Legxacy, he’s nowhere to be seen. He doesn’t live in the area any more, having (temporarily) relocated south to West Wickham. But in the time it takes to drink a cup of tea, the rising star manifests in black Nike sportswear, some of it from the Jordan x PSG line, and a hat designed by friends who run the brand Peak Television.

Exiting the centre, we seize three Lime bikes and take off down Lewisham High Street, pulling through the roads that yielded Ginger Baker, Kate Bush and Duval Timothy. This could have been a Zoom interview, but Legxacy wants me to touch the pavement for a sense of what has inspired HNPM. After discovering I was Irish, my guides had wanted to introduce me to another local treasure – fast food chain Morley’s. I’m already familiar. Is it true that a food YouTuber’s popularity has contributed to the prices being pushed up? Legxacy believes so. Some things should exist outside the rules of market mechanics.

We leave the bikes behind and proceed on foot to the Catford Centre, a retail quarter in a district notable for having a sign adorned with a giant cat. This real architectural throwback is where Legxacy shot the video for Candy Reign (!), displaying his affinity for the streets we are now strolling. “I think Lewisham right now is going through a huge metamorphosis; there are just bare new-builds getting put in and they’re huge,” says Legxacy. “I feel like it’s going to take a while to hit Catford properly, but it’s definitely starting. It’s started in Peckham and it’s going to make it here.”

He continues, “Stratford is the one that caught the brunt.”

“Because of the Olympics,” surmises the manager, correctly.

“But, you see, places like Lewisham and Peckham, I think they’re always going to fundamentally be Lewisham and Peckham,” says Legxacy, resolutely.

Legxacy used HNPM to capture all that we have just surveyed, and his experience as a young man moving through it. At the album’s core is his assertion that present-day Lewisham doesn’t just have to inspire gritty music like drill. “I wanted it to feel like what it felt like growing up here,” he explains, sitting outside a café now. “I wanted to paint the picture in a different way.”

JIM LEGXACY wears Jacket: PRADA, T-shirt: PRADA, Trousers: NIKE, Durag: JIM’S OWN

He points towards the distance. “My ex-girlfriend, I used to walk her home and pass by here everyday. That’s normal stuff. There are big stories that happen here and I know it. There are big, dark stories that happen here, but there are also the human stories, man. And it’s just balancing the two and showing those stories exist at the same time.”

His light touch is summarised by a song like DJ, the opening cut from HNPM. Over the kind of languid guitar sample he frequently favours, Legxacy charts the dissolution of a relationship by wistfully reminiscing over the sweet moments the couple shared behind the decks. Not everyone will have dated a DJ, but most can relate to the small details missed when relationships fracture. I wonder if this is one of Legxacy’s more autobiographical numbers.

“Yeah, it was about someone, but, you know, she’s calm,” he says with a wry smile. “I kind of want to leave it so open that people can make their own interpretation. For example [the song] Old Place is about my dad – it’s not about a girl.”

Scan the lyrics to Old Place and the tension between father and son is clear to see: “We used to feel rest in each other’s presence/ But now we wait on karma to strike each other.” Legxacy, understandably, prefers to talk about the song out of its original context. “It’s just like, guys, make your own story with it,” he says as a direct message to fans. “Music is like an RPG. You can just take your own story and put yourself in there, you know?”


For someone so candid on record, in person Legxacy is guarded when it comes to speaking about his personal life and recent hardships. But he does offer some flashes of what he’s gone through. “There was a lot of stuff going on a year and a half ago. I remember being forced out of my house and just having to figure it out, and that being quite tough. I think, ‘Yo, life will never give you something you can’t handle.’ So I knew that I would get my peoples together and figure something out.”

Our meeting also takes place the day before Legxacy’s 23rd birthday, perhaps adding to this sense of reflection. “Do I say my real age?” he asks his manager. Why wouldn’t he? “I get scared sometimes. I’m scared of telling people how old I am. I don’t know. Sometimes people expect you to do more at a certain age.”

Most would agree that Legxacy seems to be doing fine for just 23. His youth is laid bare by the fact that the first song he remembers rapping along to as a small boy was 50 Cent’s Candy Shop – release year, 2005. But a full appreciation for the artistic form didn’t occur until much later. Instead, he indulged in other interests that would later seep into his sound and aesthetic. “I found rap in sixth form. I wasn’t big on rap when I was younger – I liked Michael Jackson, emo and punk-rap bands. Anime intros were often my favourite songs. Then when I found rap, I started rapping. But I didn’t like any of the beats, so I started producing. You produce things that would sound better if you sang on them, so I started singing. Now, I just do all three.”

JIM LEGXACY wears T-shirt: PRADA

Though Legxacy’s intention had been to primarily sing on HNPM, the record does have very significant rap flourishes. Block Hug, for example, switches from a mellow number about circumstances of the heart to a barbed rap song, with Legxacy confidently comparing himself to both Bobby Brown and Jeff Hardy (he’s big on pro wrestling).

“Because I did rap on the last tape, I kept thinking of what other people would say if I rapped. Sometimes, if you show you can do too many things, people can get scared. They feel you don’t do any one of them well.”

Suddenly, a cyclist flashes past the café, their small speaker blasting Sprinter, the latest hit from Dave and Central Cee. Immediately, Legxacy reacts. “That song is going to haunt you forever!” shouts his manager. Legxacy starts to rap along with a masterful command. “That’s a song I produced,” he beams, a toothy grin forming on his face.


A few weeks before our ride around Lewisham, Dave reached out to Legxacy seeking help on a song he was cooking. The Streatham rapper sent on what he had and asked Legxacy if he could reinterpret the beat. Dave took Legxacy’s creation, made a few of his own alterations, and a hit single was born. Though it had only dropped a few days prior, the information they were getting suggested this was going to shoot to No. 1, and so it came to pass. In fact, Sprinter achieved the biggest streaming week ever for a rap song in the UK, beating Stormzy’s 2019 tune Vossi Bop.

“I like it, but it’s not something that I want to be my main thing,” Legxacy says on producing for other artists. “I’m going to do it here and there with artists that I think are important for me to work with. I think it’s important for me to work with Dave and Central Cee – they’re the leaders of their generation. And obviously, I’ll be the next generation.”

I wonder if the allure of hits would convince Legxacy to try to record a pop crossover – after all, it’s a trajectory that many UK rappers have set upon in recent years. “One day, I expect the Ed Sheeran-type song. I want to do that one day. You know what’s crazy, though? I could do that stuff now. But where’s the fun in that? I know that I could make the quintessential pop song right now and do that so easily, but where’s the fun in that?”

“Where’s the storytelling?” interrupts the manager.

“I love stories, they’re my favourite thing,” responds Legxacy. “That’s why I like wrestling and Star Wars, because it’s all just storytelling. I see my life play out like a story and I want to make sure I tell it – I want people invested. Human beings, the only thing that separates us from every other creature on this Earth is the fact we tell stories.”

JIM LEGXACY wears Jacket: ARMANI, Trousers: PRADA, Trainers: NIKE x SUPREME

Despite his current aversion to the big pop machine, Legxacy’s ambitions are towering – he claims he wants to be one of the biggest British artists of all time, and believes he holds that potential. If that’s his destiny, then HNPM will remain a testament to a previous life, a different existence. The album is his origin story, a deftly spun saga that captures his beloved home and the people who have meant the most to him, before the success he envisions for himself sets in and alters his world.

“I don’t know where I’ll end up going; it could go wherever really, but the story is there and it’s told,” he says, referring to HNPM. “Whenever anyone references any high point I achieve, they know where it started, and that they were part of that. And that’s what’s beautiful about this all at the end of the day.”


Homeless N**** Pop Music  is out now via (!)