News__ Laugh, Gag, Choke with Le1f

June 01, 2012 | By

Le1f will be performing tonight at hearty magazine presents: Summer in Training at Tribeca Grand Vol. 1

With some people, you can feel the connection they have to their music just by seeing them in their element for a few moments. NYC rapper, Le1f is a one of those people. Walking through a crowd, whether on the mic or not, he's striking, standing well over 6 feet tall, and there's a serenity in his face, which is offset by the way his whole body moves in measured, subtle waves. His particular movement may have something to do with the fact that he's a trained dancer, but Le1f is a multifaceted talent--he's also a producer, a DJ, and of course, there's his rap title--and we haven't been the only ones to notice. His debut mixtape Dark York dropped to big love from critics across the board, including Fader calling it one of "the most provocative rap releases of the year." It's now time for everyone to notice.

Gearing up for his performance as part of hearty presents: Summer In Training at Tribeca Grand Vol. 1, we caught up with Le1f to discuss why he loves to spit provocative words, the physicality of his music and his upcoming EP on Boys Noize Records. Read the Q+A below and come see him in action tonight.

Fader called Dark York one of "the most provocative rap releases of the year." Your wordplay can get pretty biting, what do you like about using provocative language to engage your audience?

If my lyrics are audible, I like them to be very visual and tell ridiculous stories. I like making jokes and wild statements that will make the audience laugh, gag, and choke on their own spit.

You're a multifaceted performer--MC, dancer, DJ, what medium did you get started with and how did you get to this point with rap?

Aw, thanks. I started with dance when I was four. My goal in music making is to activate a physical response and the suggest movement to one's body in some way, whether it be hip-hop dancing, voguing, clubbing, having sex, or choreographing contemporary work.

I've seen your DJ sets, you're bumping everything from deep gothic house and Chicago juke to Kendrick Lamar and Blondie. What's your strategy for building a DJ set or do you just play what you want to dance to?

When I DJ, I only play things I want to dance to at that moment. A lot of recent rap music, including your favorite Waka Flocka, Soulja Boy, or Kendrick Lamar songs, has had an average tempo of 70 bpm. Jersey Club and Bass tracks are usually around 140 bpm, exactly twice the tempo of most trap rap, so it's really easy to mix. That's the bulk of my DJ sets. Moments of Chicago juke and Harlem hip-hop get thrown in at random, depending on the party.

Your twitter feed is one of the most interesting I've seen, it almost seems like a therapeutic release at times. How important is social media for an artist today?

If it wasn't for the culture of MySpace and Twitter, no one would know who I am. Period.

You've had the opportunity to collaborate with some incredible artists--from Nguzu to CĀ„BERGIGA and Mess Kid. Anyone you'd love to work with?

Honestly, I have recently gotten opportunities and offers to work with so many great artists that I haven't thought much about dream collaborations. I doubt any of my favorite popular rappers would work with me as a gay rapper, but I really want to do a song with Waka or Danny Brown. I'd love to rap on something from Lex Luger or A$AP Ty Beats.

What's next?

Boody and I have an EP coming on on Boys Noize Records this summer, and I'm busy writing another mixtape already. It's going to be a totally sexy mixtape.

hearty magazine presents: Summer in Training at Tribeca Grand is a month long music series. Each Friday for the month of June will have new and interesting performances.

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