Leikeli47 Is Hip-Hop's most stylish rebellion Skip to main content

Leikeli47 Is Hip-Hop's most stylish rebellion

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Leikeli47. (photograph via Setor Tsikudo)

if you go through the mask on my own, you'd feel the big apple rapper Leikeli47 keeps her guard up. but that's not really real. unlike MF Doom, whose supervillain masks denotes a new id altogether, Leikeli47 isn't hiding behind an alter ego. Her masks, as she's stated in interviews, allows her id to improved shine via. "I made sure i used to be clear in the music," she noted in an interview with radio host Justin Credible on energy 106 in l. a.. Donning a masks, for Leikeli47, is an act of transparency—one performed on her personal terms.
In Acrylic, her sophomore studio album, she's franker than ever about who she is. Animated with a superfan's blazing zeal for her cherished musical forebears, Acrylic finds Leikeli47 expressing her wit, inspiration, and gratitude with unflinching sincerity—a solid means of making an album with so many wild, style-hopping curveballs work. She recalls Cardi B in the sluggish-rolling "No Reload," then switches registers to fuse sickly-candy piano crescendos with the sun-drenched mellow bass strains of Corrinne Bailey Rae on "Hoyt and Schermerhorn." The latter music is a sentimental high-wire act that miraculously turns into whatever thing springy and hopeful as a substitute of schmaltzy. That this candy, made-for-radio love track can fit effectively between a neo-soul ballad ("good Down") and a blast of adrenaline-spiked braggadocio ("Iron Mike") is a testament to Leikeli47's voice, which doesn't just morph to go well with her wants; it seizes and savors each and every new sound. Propelled by means of her stressed power and her cultural omnivore's mental Rolodex, Acrylic conjures up the jubilance of a musical whiz child effectively going via her paces.
but Leikeli47 doesn't simply have an ear for mimicry; her musical instincts are stronger than that. She works in dancehall, gospel, radio-pleasant pop, and gangsta rap with such a clear love for each and every genre that it winds up being much less an pastime in flashing her skills and extra an act of paying homage—and that Leikeli47 stans with such style is a part of what makes Acrylic so much fun to hearken to. That feel of pleasure is clearest in her devotion to ballroom lifestyle—a nearly century-old queer- and black-led underground social network, aggressive dance scene, and musical vernacular. On the album highlight, "put up That," Leikeli47 captures the spirit and energy of a ball—a competition the place contributors are judged as a lot by using the athleticism of their stream as they are by using the more ambient (and elusive) experience of style and drama. Channeling a latest of ballroom's electronic grace, her staccato commands—"examine your ang les / submit that shit"—crack like a whip alongside the plush, metronomic kick drums layered over a beat made for voguing. Later, she'll hand off the mic to her predecessors on "Full Set," reducing up a pattern of the sizzling diss that ballroom icon MC Debra lobbed at fellow big name Kelly Mizrahi's weave, far and wide a pulsing snare. Ceding many of the song's house to Debra, the grand dame's words develop into an anthem of renewal and defiant self-love.
Tying all this collectively is what Leikeli47 has described as her goal: introducing listeners to the community she has an immense love for—Brooklyn nail salons, ny's balls, even the certain intimacy of a subway-automobile romance. but this hometown love expands past the city limits and reaches into the South: Richmond, Virginia, is the unnamed place of the radio station in the skit "youngster Chocolate Radio," and traditionally black colleges like Florida's Bethune Cookman and Louisiana's Southern tuition are laid out like jewels. Leikeli47 talks about running a twine throughout the hall for electrical energy when she became starting to be up, and in regards to the single-mother or father buildings on her Brooklyn block; however she additionally rejoices in stomp dances and drum traces, imagining younger black kids on the HBCUs donning their Greek colorings and raising center fingers to the police. This isn't anyone certain vicinity or time; it's blackness in all its richness. "For me, Acrylic is an extra creative invitation into my world," Leikeli47 instructed The Fader. "It's about walking our campuses and down our streets, coming into our neighborhoods and basically realizing…why we circulation the manner we circulation, why we tick the way we tick, why we birthday celebration the way we celebration, why we love the style we like, why we're resilient…. Of course, you got to be invited through us."
What comes through most in Leikeli47's work is that she's competent, gleeful even, to subvert energy. specializing in black spaces as centers of pleasure so you might handiest wish you had been invited into is only one approach; the mask she wears when she performs is a different. every now and then a knit balaclava, every so often a customized design, extra frequently a bandanna with torn eye holes, the mask actively snubs the convention that a lady's cost extends outward from her face. Leikeli47 uses guys as a springboard—she instructed an interviewer that she simplest really felt launched after Jay-Z selected her 2015 hit "F**okay the summer time Up" as his Tidal playlist's title track—then rejects their gaze altogether. It's also interesting: How can a mask not inveigle?
in this way, Leikeli47 has skilled firsthand how an invitation belies vigor, and how bestowing one is an art all its own. In Acrylic, the hand that she extends to you is shellacked and bejeweled, patterned and airbrushed with microscopic precision; you, although, are here simplest to humbly admire.

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