The Break Presents: Leikeli47
Buzzing MC Leikeli47 (pronounced Leh-Kay-Lee) revels in anonymity. She’s from New York but won’t officially claim a borough, doesn’t give out her gov’t name or age and fans have no idea what she looks like. Why you ask? Because whenever she’s in public—and maybe sometimes behind closed doors—the RCA signee wears a ski mask. Wearing a ski mask usually has negative connotations behind it. However, Leikeli47 doesn’t wear one to commit acts of thievery. Instead, she wears one to transform into a superhero. “The mask gives me magical powers. I’m able to open up, I’m able to curse—I don’t curse, I barely curse—but I’m able to express myself just the way I want,” she said. “This mask is just a big fuck you to a lot of people at times. That’s just what it is.” After exploding onto the scene with her hit single “F**k The Summer Up,” which Jay Z loves, dropping a self-titled EP and gearing up for her debut LP, it’s time for the world to get to know Leikeli47.—Emmanuel C.M.
Age: I don’t believe in age
Hometown: New York
I grew up listening to: Everything, from Herbie Hancock to Queen to Mary J. Blige, Sam Cooke, everything, I don’t class music. I grew up in a very musical household, so everything was playing from gospel to whatever. Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters is one of my favorite albums. It definitely made me say; yea this is what I want to do. I consider myself a communicator; I like having conversation to people now, before I was very shy. It’s crazy, being an artist helped me overcome my shyness. So once I got into all that it was just like talking to people. People talk to me about their issues; I paint the picture and just have fun with it.
It was always a mask even when there wasn’t a mask. In the beginning you have to pay your dues, hence it just like wearing a mask ‘cause it’s really not you. I went through that and it taught me a lot. Putting on the mask, it’s weird, it helps me so much. I’m very shy. I’m very quiet, but with the mask, it just makes me feel like a superhero; it’s like a cape.
Most people don’t know: I’m nice. People see the mask and think I want to stick them up. [Laughs]. The only things I want to do are create and have fun. That’s what the mask represents, it’s genderless, it’s faceless and it’s race-less. This mask represent freedom, you put it on and you escape.
My style has been compared to: If I had to compare [my style] to anything, I would go to food and go with Gumbo. Gumbo because it has a bunch of things in there. That’s how I would like to describe my music. Little splash of soul, little splash of pop, sill splash of hip-hop; it’s everything in one and I credit that to my upbringing just listening to all kinds of music.
Standout records and/or moments to date: Standout record for me is definitely “F**k The Summer Up.” Standout moment would be when I saw Jay Z put my song on his Tidal playlist and titled his Tidal Playlist after my song. That was a cool moment for me. It was cool to just be like, “Wow I’m on his radar.” And then to be listed with the other artists, because it was such a cool playlist.
Making “F**k The Summer Up,” I was in a place where a lot of people and myself were just discouraged. It was either people telling them what they couldn’t do or telling me what I can’t do. The definition of the song is to be great because that’s how I wake up, thinking I’m great. I’m not going to say it’s my summer but I’m going to fuck the summer up. That’s pretty much my attitude and it just hit me. Did the beat, did the verse and there you go.
My goal in hip-hop is: To be great, to continue working and to continue learning. I never want to be one of those artists that get to a certain point and it’s just like…I want to give back to the kids. I want to reach out to the youth. But not just youth and my community in New York City but in L.A., Wisconsin, wherever. I want to go and show people whatever you want, you can do it your way. Forget what anyone has to say. I’m a black girl from New York City and I wear a damn mask.
I’m going to be the next: Rockstar because that’s just my attitude. Wherever I am, I sail out to the moon in the booth or on stage. I just blank out. I’m a rockstar in training.
Standout: “F**k The Summer Up”
“Heard Em Say”