The Break Presents: Leaf
There’s always a different feeling when a new artists is breaking out from New York. Bobby Shmurda, Desiigner, A Boogie With the Hoodie, once the ball gets rolling, the momentum that comes with it is immense. Now a new artists from the city that never sleeps is starting to gain a following and the future appears to be bright. Leaf, a budding rapper and singer from Brooklyn and Lower Eastside, is a new New Yorker who’s catching people’s attention. The RPM MSC/Fool’s Gold signee has been putting in work over the years and with A-Trak and crew behind her, she’s taking her sound to the next level.
“Basically A-Trak hit me up one day, which was so random and exciting,” she said to XXL. “I actually didn’t even think he was serious. He told me he liked my song and I was like, ‘That’s really dope.’ I didn’t think anything was going to come out of it. He was like, ‘Would you come to this Chromeo concert’ and I found out at the concert that his brother, Dave, told him about my music. It was one of those moments where all of my hard work came to fruition. We kicked it at the concert then the next day, he said, ‘I want to talk to you about being apart of Fool’s Gold.’ I said I was down. I’ve been going to their festivals since I was 14 years old. He even found photo of me when I was younger at their festival. I was so mad ‘cause I looked hit. [Laughs] I knew that I was special; it’s great to have someone that noticed it too.”
Hometown: Brooklyn and Lower Eastside, New York
I grew up listening to: “I grew up listening to everything. I grew up in a house full of music. My grandfather used to play me jazz, my father used to play me hip-hop; my mom would play me Prince, Michael Jackson and Sade, stuff like that. I would listen to rap music; I always listened to rap music growing up. I loved people like Jimi Hendrix, Earth, Wind & Fire. I always loved blues and guitar that’s big for me.
“I started singing basically from birth but started lessons at eight years old. My mom made me take piano lessons and I got to take piano and singing lessons after school. I hated it but I loved singing so much so I just continued singing for the rest of my life.
“I have videos of me on camera saying to my mom that I’m going to be a superstar. I always wanted to be a musician. Its not even really about the fame to me, I don’t want fame, I want influence. I just don’t want just fans, I want a family. I want lifelong fans, people who really love me for being myself. I think that’s the most important.
“I started rapping when I was 17. I started freestylin’ with my cousins before that but as far as actual rapping, sitting down, taking the time and putting it on a track, that happened when I was 17.”
Most people don’t know: “I’m like really into a lot of house. I’m like a house fanatic and a conspiracy theorist. Like you can’t talk to me about anything, you know what I mean? [Laughs]”
My style’s been compared to: “[My sound] I would say is dark, airy vocals. My rap style I would say is, the only way I can explain it is boss bitch. That’s like the only genre I put my raps in. Stylistically, you can tell from my voice that I’m constantly changing my flow. You have to adapt your flow. Especially as a female, there are a bunch of girls who are killing it; there are a bunch of girls who are great rappers out there. But the only girl who’s on top is Nicki Minaj and she is constantly changing her flow and evolving her music and I feel like that is something I learned from her. I’m constantly trying to evolve as a rapper and an artist.”
My standout records or moments to date have been: “I think that one song that was really important for me because it’s how Fool’s Gold found me is ‘Lost.’ I think at the time it was one of the most vulnerable songs I put out. I think vulnerable music is what speaks to people. I’m just trying to get to a more vulnerable state as an artist”
My goal in hip-hop is: “I watched this KRS-One video about being hip-hop; my goal in hip-hop is to say I am hip-hop. Everyday I am hip-hop and that’s what I’m trying to get closer to, to people believing that with me”
I’m gonna be the next: “I’m going to be the next Leaf. But if I had to do a comparison, people say I sound like Janet Jackson and I look like Aaliyah but my message is completely different from both of them. As far as rapping, I’ve been compared to Iggy Azalea, I’ve been compared to Nicki, but that’s because they are the only two girls in the game to connect me to. I don’t think I sound like anybody. I think I’m creating my own sound or at least that’s what I’m trying to do. So I wouldn’t compare myself to anybody but myself.”
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