The first half of 2022 has seen rap star Coi Leray continue her arrival as one of the brightest young stars in Hip-Hop. After having dominated the airwaves throughout last year with a string of hit singles, including the Lil Durk-assisted Billboard smash “No More Parties,” “Big Purr (Prrdd)” featuring Pooh Shiesty, and “Twinnem,” the Massachusetts native and New Jersey rep has further capitalized on that moment with new releases like “Anxiety” and her Nicki Minaj collaboration “Blick Blick.”
Add in a guest appearance on Fivio Foreign’s B.I.B.L.E. cut “What’s My Name” to keep her voice in rotation and an iHeartRadio Music Awards nomination for Best New Hip Hop Artist, the timing couldn’t have been better. Packaging her aforementioned singles with over a dozen new tracks, Leray’s debut album, Trendsetter finds the raptress showcasing the breadth of her artistry alongside a star-studded lineup of costars, including Yung Bleu, Young M.A, G Herbo, H.E.R., Nav, Wallo267, King Gillie, Polo G, Lil Tecca, and A Boogie wit da Hoodie.
Debuting on the Billboard 200 chart, Trendsetter‘s success and surrounding buzz have led to additional opportunities for Leray, such as her recent partnership with Sprite as an ambassador for Limelight, the brand’s new global music program. Created with the goal of “bringing very different artists from around the world together around one musical expression based on a shared life experience,” Limelight includes contributions from a handful of artists from various genres, including Grammy-winning super-producer James Blake, Nigerian singer Omah Lay, and Chinese singer Hua Chenyu. Leray, who reimagined a hook created by Blake for her own exclusive Limelight track, “The One,” also participated in the program’s documentary-style segment “Heat Happens,” in which she touches on the pressures that come with life as a public figure. Her documented career journey has made her one of the more relatable rap artists in the genre today.
VIBE spoke with Coi Leray about her debut album, helping launch Sprite Limelight, her forthcoming new single and recent collaborations, and more.
VIBE: You released your debut album, Trendsetter, earlier this year. How did it feel to get that project out to the world?
Coi Leray: It feels great, you know. It feels like I’ve been working for so long. And I’m so versatile and I would say I’m unpredictable and people never know what’s next. So, it just feels good to finally reach that path of the music side. Basically showing people what I’m really capable of outside of all the bullsh*t and the gossip and the hate and whatever. The music is really what I strive for and I love, so it just feels good to be able to give that to the world after so long.
Is there someone [famous] that you discovered is a fan of the album and yourself and it took you by surprise?
I mean, no, only because I’ve been having those conversations [with celebrities and artists] since “No More Parties and after ever since. Every song I get and release, I’ve been getting a lot of feedback just from the industry, when it comes to the rappers and singers and stuff. They’ve been giving me feedback since before the album, you know. I say I’ve been doing this for about three years now so I didn’t really need a second opinion ’cause everybody always told me that I was a star, every single person. They’d see me and be like, ‘Yo, you’re fucking out here, you’re a superstar.’ And they all heard the album before the album even came, I’ve been recording for three years. “Paranoid” with Polo G, I recorded a year and some change ago.
You haven’t let off the gas as you recently worked with Bronx rapper B-Lovee on the new single “Demon.” How did that collaboration come about and how would you describe the chemistry between the two of you?
Well, we did two songs together and “New York Demon”… I don’t know, I f**k with B-Lovee. Like his sound is super fire and I saw his sh*t on TikTok that started going crazy, do I thought that would be super dope to collab. They had reached out for an open verse and hell yeah, we just went crazy we ended up recording both of those songs.
Are there any other artists you’ve worked with recently for collaborations fans can look forward to?
Hell yeah. I look forward to [my] Calvin Harris collab. I have a song with Chloe Bailey and Stefflon Don on his upcoming project, so I cannot wait until that drops.
You’ve partnered with Sprite in conjunction with its new global music platform, LIMELIGHT. How did that opportunity come about and how has it been working with the brand?
Well, Sprite reached out and it’s just a blessing. It’s been going so great and the song actually dropped tonight at midnight. It’s so funny, I saw Rap Caviar post new releases and they just put my name on there. I’m like, I didn’t know I was dropping a song. I thought it was so weird for like Rap Caviar to post it and I’m like, ‘Oh sh*t, Sprite got me on Rap Caviar, too?’ Like yo, this is for real, like this isn’t no regular thing. Like this is supposed to be global. I don’t know. I thought that was super dope, a drink being on that caviar. I’ve never seen it before.
LIMELIGHT recently launched ‘Heat Confessionals,’ a series profiling artists sharing personal experiences where they’ve had to keep their cool during heated moments. What are some instances where you had to keep calm while under pressure?
Um… I’d say every day you gotta keep calm. It’s pressure every day. You’ve got a lot of people depending on you. A lot of kids, a lot of adults, a lot of teenagers. It’s everybody around the world that’s watching. You know, waiting for your next move. But I’m surrounded by great people and I have a great relationship with God, so that always helps me go about these times in those days.
You’re also curating a Sprite Limelight playlist of your personal favorite songs? How are you gonna go about choosing which artists or songs go on your personal playlist?
Um…I don’t know, I may need Sprite to help me [laughs].
Well, what are some songs that are in your rotation? What are some other songs that you’re currently listening to?
So right now, I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been listening to straight trap music, drill music. I’m inspired by the whole Chicago wave. Shout out Durk, Chief Keef, everybody in Chicago, for real. Dreezy, G Herbo, and there’s so many more. But I had to realize like I gotta listen to some fucking Dua Lipa or something for it ’cause I be feeling like I gotta get inspired in a different way! Like I love this drill shit so much that I’ve been forgetting like, ‘Yo, I’ve gotta turn into a popstar soon.’ It’s time for me to start taking in some other music and stuff because I can’t just live my life trying to keep up with the guys. I feel like that’s the only thing about female rap is trying to keep up with the guys and do what the guys do or whatever. And it just gets old a little bit. You just want to kind of gravitate to everything that everyone can relate to more. So that’s what I’m doing now.
Sprite has a storied relationship with Hip-Hop as a whole, when did you first realize that Sprite was for and a part of the culture?
I was born in ’97 so I don’t know when the first Sprite bottle was made, but I do know that Drake and I know LeBron James kind of made a nice collab with them as well, which was super dope. I don’t know, I feel like it’s so many sodas in the world and it’s not about how many people they’ve worked with, it’s just about what they’ve done compared to every other soda, I would say. They are the culture because they’re probably the only soda drink to actually do it.
What’s next for Coi Leray moving forward?
I’m going on tour at the end of this month. I cannot wait, it’s gonna be my first headlining tour. I’m going crazy. So much festivals coming up this year, and I’m also dropping music this month, before the tour. So, I’m just excited, man.
Can you speak on the music that you’re about to drop?
Hell yeah. I said, “The least you would do is pull up on me, ni**a / And give me head until I cum / Give me head until I come / ‘Cause I know that I saw the problem / It’s hard to deal with a bi**h like me / I’m trying to be difficult, I’m different, baby.” Yeah.
Yeah. So that’s like the hook to it? What’s the title?
That’s the intro, “Involved” (laughs).
That’s a solo cut?
Yeah, it’s my sh*t.
Definitely. So what was the inspiration? How did that come to life?
Yo, you know what, I just got in the studio and I’m like, “Yo, I gotta start elevating my music.” And I automatically thought of Aaliyah when I heard the beat, so I said, “How can I get this Aaliyah vibe, this Aaliyah feeling?” And now that we shooting the video coming up, I got an Aaliyah inspiration on the mood board, which I think is super dope, you know.