Rapper / Androgynous / Fierce
We here at Next Magazine love a rapper who rhymes “Louboutin” with “Evian,” as young and out New York rapper/producer Le1f does in the lyrics of “Wut”, the hit song from his debut mixtape Dark York. He goes on to proclaim “I make a neo-Nazi kamikaze wanna firebomb,” which the website Rap Genius succinctly interprets to mean “Le1f, as a gay, black, androgynous rapper, literally embodies each of the worst fears of any bigot.” And Le1f does just that, in an unapologetically fierce way, casually sitting on the lap of a half-naked, oiled-up muscle dude wearing a Pokemon Pikachu mask in the controversial video for the song.
Le1f (pronounced “leaf”; his birth name is Khalif Diouf) knows he does not fit the typical profile of a rapper, and he has no qualms about it. “I don’t care what those basic bitches think,” he tells us when we ask him about the negative response some people in the rap community have shown him for being so openly queer. Fortunately, for as many haters as he has in the rap community, he also has big-name fans that respect him for his openness.
Though he’s quickly stepping into a life of fame, he’s still struck by the rap stars that have shown him love (listing some of them during our interview), and recently tweeted about a celeb run-in, “Tell me why i have to share this elevator with Kelly Rowland as i leave my managers office??? how imma not giggle???” Soon, we imagine, he’ll be used to living life in the limelight.
Le1f’s personal style, like his music, is modern, dramatic and experimental. He seems to transcend labels and takes pride in that, recognizing that he raps about “gay stuff,” but quickly points out that he doesn’t want to be limited to that subject or labeled solely as a gay rapper. Soft spoken, yet completely self confident, Le1f knows he has nothing to apologize for, and has successfully grown his career by being honest about who he is and rapping about his perspective on life. He describes his ever-growing fan base as “gay guys and girls: basically, people who have sex with men are the people who like my music.” And they are a devoted set that gag for his fast-flowing, gangsta-style raps and hip-hop beats—perfect for twerking in the club or working the runway at a vogue ball. These fans will be happy to know that in 2013 Le1f will continue to work on new music (he is currently collaborating with 20 new producers) and has tours planned across the U.S. and Europe. And we are not sorry about that.