It’s 11am in New York City and Mercury is about to light up her first spliff of the day. “I’ve been up for a couple of hours, just vibing,” she says over Zoom, wearing a blue sweatshirt with “Girls Always Riot” slapped across the front in neon letters.
The Atlanta-based musician is mellow in both her tone and demeanour – a stark contrast to the general mood of the thumping, party-ready rap anthems on her upcoming EP, fearMercury.
One of its stand-out songs is wyha – a high-energy, industrial mutation of Basement Jaxx’s legendary 2001 hit Where’s Your Head At. It turns out this project was a bit of a sampling exercise for Mercury, whose other single freddie rejigs Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody into a chopped-up rap tune.
“I didn’t really have a goal with this project,” the 21-year-old explains in-between tokes. “I was just having fun. I feel like I was being too serious with my music before – I wanted to be a little careless this time and make some shit people can move to.” Not to mention Mercury really loves Queen.
“In high school, I’d spam everyone with Bohemian Rhapsody,” she says. “I’d have it on repeat. It makes me feel a way no other song does, it’s so powerful and has so many layers to it, and they take you to a different level each time.”
Over the last couple of years, Mercury’s rise as a rapper has been quick, though not always straightforward. As a kid growing up in Memphis, she’d often sing at church, where her grandfather was a choir director. Then, when she was 12, Mercury got diagnosed with a debilitating colon condition called ulcerative colitis.
“I wasn’t able to go to school or really do anything, so I tapped into music all the time. That’s where my love for it came,” she says. At 17, after undergoing surgery to get her colon removed, Mercury started making popular mixes on SoundCloud of songs she liked, before realising she was a decent rapper, too.
She swiftly dropped out of college, released a string of singles followed by her debut project MERCTAPE in 2021, following it up with the tabula rasa mixtape this November. Now, Mercury feels comfortable enough to switch things up. “I want people to have a good time with fearMercury,” she says. “And I really want them to dance.”
10% Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?
I was born in Memphis, Tennessee. I was raised between Jackson, Mississippi and Atlanta, Georgia, and I’m currently based in Atlanta. I’ve moved all around the South, but I’ve been here in Atlanta for the longest, about two years. I fuck with it, it’s cool.
20% What’s your dream holiday destination?
I want to go to Madagascar, in the open fields to see all the big animals and shit, and the beaches. I’d love to be on an island across the world from everything I know.
30% What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?
I make my best music when I’m in a spiteful place. If someone did something to hurt me, that’s when I can tap in and be like, yeah, I’m going to get my shit off. When I’m mad or sad, it makes me rap better. I don’t even rap about my feelings – I just be rapping about bullshit. Hopefully I don’t get cancelled!
40% If you’re cooking food to impress someone, what will you make?
I would make them chilli. I’ve been making some badass chilli lately, with cornbread.
50% What’s the secret ingredient?
There is none. I really be using the packaged stuff – chilli powder and then whatever else would go good in there, like cinnamon, three different types of beans, corn, sweet potatoes. I’m drooling now!
60% What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?
It isn’t really advice, but this Kid Cudi rhyme has stuck with me: “Accept yourself, except yourself, exit yourself, access yourself”. That made me look at myself instead of everybody else, and realise what I had within myself.
70% You rule the world for a day. What went down?
The first thing I’m going to do is make sure that everybody can get free healthcare. I know how much of a struggle that shit is. I would ban guns. I would also tell everybody uplifting shit everyday through a worldwide intercom. Sometimes positivity can be negative, but I feel better when I move in delusion. I manifest shit. Be delusional, y’all. Dream big.
80% What’s a bad habit you wish you could kick?
Talking over people. My brain doesn’t rest.
90% How did you celebrate your last birthday?
I went to this cabin in north Georgia. We smoked weed, did shrooms, vibed. We watched movies, made TikToks and made food.
100% What can artists do to help save the world?
I feel like artists can give back to the communities they’ve come from, especially Black artists.
fearMercury is out 7th December via Honeymoon Records