Left At London and how today’s creatives can’t be boxed in

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Left At London Twitter
(@LeftAtLondon, Twitter)

I’m late to the party.

A video captioned “How to make a Tyler, the Creator song” freckled my TL last week, the last instance of it being Tyler himself RTing the damn video. Had to watch it.

The young lady who made the video—Nat Puff, stage name Left At London stylized as /@/—didn’t just tastefully clown Tyler. She didn’t just identify common chords in his instrumentals. Or the drum patterns. Or the vocals. Or the lyrics. She did all of that, spot on, in two minutes. Enough to earn a chuckle and an RT from a casual scroller, belly laughs from Tyler fans, and gratitude from music fans and artists of all levels for such a simple, friendly breakdown of the music-making process.

The fact that Left At London has two EPs, albeit exciting, isn’t even the most surprising post-viral fame reveal of hers. Along with her surprisingly extensive history as an online comedian, she’s also self-published a two-part (and counting?) series of poetry zines that are a) brilliantly minimalist, like her musical comedy and b) waaay heavier than anything she’s put out on Vine or Twitter—which isn’t saying a lot, but bear with me.

London’s knack for the quick impression clearly goes beyond Twitter-friendly jokes. Without reading a single line in it, CRY LIKE A MAN says a lot between the title and its cover art.

She packs an absurd amount of stuff in these 21 pages, including the start of a mini-series within the zine series titled “haikus for the people who deserve them pt. 1.” Feels like a setup for an interlude series that serious followers will fall in love with throughout her career (e.g. Drake’s “Paris Morton Music” installments and “(insert woman’s name) Interlude” series).

Anyway.

CRY LIKE A MAN dives into, among other topics: body image, intimate transwoman experiences, mental health, unreality (love this word), and a subtle yet strong disdain for cops. (The disdain for police is less subtle in volume two titled Lie To The Police.)

While London herself concedes that “pseudo-edgy or teen-angsty” is a fair criticism of some of her writing, there’s no denying her on-camera wit and precision translates into her writing, even when it’s about something as jarring as her gender reassignment procedure.

Some fav lines:

“i was sick to the point that even my handwriting was hoarse,” (“That’s Not Good Enough”)

“three friends visited me. in between, i order a sandwich and talk to police. i enjoy doing exactly one of those things,” (“That’s Not Good Enough”)

(“Shrink,” screenshot to preserve format)

Jokes, tunes, written words, it doesn’t matter what you get from London. You still get London. That is special, and I think her success is a great example of what professional creatives can be today and in the near-future thanks to the Internet: multitalented folks who create however they can until something resonates. Whichever product achieves the breakthrough (e.g. “How to make a Tyler, the Creator song”) then becomes a door into the artist’s greater creative world.

As a multimedia creative, my discovery of Left At London’s work gives me hope that someone will have a similar experience with my work one day. As a pop culture consumer, I’m excited by London’s success because it goes a long way in solving problems we have with celebrity culture, specifically our collective need to force famous people into boxes. Even if most people only know Left At London for her comedy, challenges to her image/persona would fall flat if, say, her EP Transgender Street Legend, Vol. 1 blew up and charted on the Billboard 200. The people who really consume her work support her presence in every space she’s in.

Left At London has built a foundation that will allow her to be human while being a celebrity. Huge since, well, celebs aren’t really people to us.

Unlike celebrities of the recent past looking to expand into other creative careers (e.g. Dwayne “The Rock,” Drake, NBA players who have released rap records), budding creatives today don’t need to reach any career milestones in order to open the door into other lanes. Someone can start as rapper/comedian/filmmaker, blow up in one of those fields, and see the other two hustles benefit as well.

Thanks, Nat. Cheers and more success to you.

Stray Things

  • Go to Left At London’s testimonials (left side of homepage) for a great laugh and demonstration of humility.
  • HER FAVORITE KANYE SONG IS “GORGEOUS” OMGEEEE
  • “I Split My Ribs Open” off of Transgender Street Legend, Vol. 1. Yuh.

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