Those who can get past the Miley Cyrus memes and N Sync nostalgia will notice another artist that had a pretty good night. Macklemore, whose catchy hits “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us” practically dominated radio waves, walked away with a handful of VMA’s on Sunday. While most were excited for the indie darling to get mainstream gratification, it was gay rapper Le1f who couldn’t help but suggest the Seattle native copied his catchy “Wut” for “Thrift Shop” glory.
Truth is, the number one hit does sound a lot like Le1f’s tune and his Twitter vent shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s met the New York City native. During last weekend’s Afropunk Music Festival, we ran into the stylish rapper watching friend Rye Rye tear down the stage. “The way she dances…I need to get my cardio up! Big fan of her and Mykki Blanco; they’re the homies,” he says as friends come and go with warm greetings.
“My problem is, I’ll take the mic and go on stage and feel like I’m in my own space. I have a dance background. I’m capable of going on the stage and, based on the vibe I get, it can go anywhere. I might lay down and look away. I may jump into the ground, start voguing and hit somebody in the face. It can go so many directions.”
Besides his outrageous style and in your face attitude, Le1f’s entire brand screams New York flavor. He’s part rock star, part hard hitting spitter and probably the industry’s most famous gay rapper. His lyrics are equally entertaining, delving into topics as diverse as literary classic Grapes of Wrath and taboo subjects like cyber sex.
“I really feel like I was the first one to rap about it (laughs),” he ponders. “And I always catch myself, like that is so embarrassing. Basically, I use Grindr or Ok Cupid or some shit (laughs). The song is about having sex over Skype, so I just put myself out there. Niggas can catch me on the street and call me out like, ‘you’re the faggot that’s rapping about cyber sex.’”
If he’s not being called out for treading the line between inappropriate and fabulous, it’s what he’s wearing that gets a double take. If it’s not “ugly shit that matches some cute shit,” it’s a mix of thrift store finds and friends’ hand me downs. In fact, the art of being “eclectic and weird” is embraced more than ever in 2013. Shortly after leaving Le1f to his shenanigans, old friend and former co-performer Rye Rye cosigned his same sentiments, naming vintage items as her favorite finds.
“I like prints and patterns. I like a lot of vintage stuff and designers of course. I like people like Jeremy Scot and a lot of underground designers,” she dished. “I want to go into fashion design, but I feel like it’s so much. I kind of wanted to do a baby line because I have a daughter.”
The pint-sized Baltimore native fit right in with the alternative Afropunk crowd. Dressed in lime green parachute pants and an oversized t-shirt, the N.E.E.T. signee reflected on life with her daughter and whether she would let her join the industry at a young age.
“I let her do what she want honestly. I’ve never been influenced to do anything that I didn’t want to do. I would totally let her to certain points, but my daughter is more of a tomboy so I want to see her in the Olympics or something like that (laughs).”
When she’s not prepping for a second mixtape, the M.I.A. collaborator is looking for her next acting role. “I’d probably be a hood girl doing some ratchet stuff. With me, I just go with the flow.”
Order Rye Rye’s Go! Pop! Bang! LP here and stay tuned for Le1f’s Treehouse mixtape set for a September 10 release.