If the name doesn’t ring a bell, then maybe you’ll remember his music video for “Wut”, in which he gives a lap dance to a shirtless man wearing a Pokemon mask.
“CONTROVERSIAL!” you say? Or, maybe we just live in a society that is easily weirded out. Frankly it’s for the best, because all this publicity is eventually what got Le1f his big break.
As a matter of fact, with his flamboyant stage presence, smooth, impeccable flow, and sweet dance moves, this New York rapper has the talent to live up to the hype.
POP had a quick chat with the performer yesterday, while he was on his way to Montreal to perform at Peer Pressure’s 7-year anniversary.
POP: Were you expecting such a strong reaction from people after the release of “Wut”?
Le1f: I find it amusing to just like, develop a character. There’s a lot of footage where, it’s not that I’m not being myself per se, but doing other moves or something like that, and like just choosing one that’s like fun and funny and made sense for the song.
So I think, just choosing to make that kind of video and make that kind of a song, I knew would be provocative, and I was interested in doing that. But I didn’t realize it would be such a huge momentum thing for myself. I wanted it to be a great video but I didn’t foresee it having such a backlash. I really didn’t think people would even pay attention to it. I thought I was in my indie world, you know. I knew I wanted to make some rap and be into that world, but that it thought it would stay more local or underground.
So the fact that I got a bigger reception than that was really cool.
POP: The video for “Wut” seems to be saying something about consumer culture, what’s the statement or concept behind it?
Le1f: I’m interested in the 90’s. I mean, I was born in 89. So Pokemon and Digimon… I know them all. They’re things that are really fun, and the nostalgia of the song that I was doing was kind of in that mood. So it felt natural to incorporate those interests of mine.
POP: You just recently released your new EP Liquid. What are your upcoming plans?
Le1f: I’m in the studio right now. I’ve been recording songs all this past week, mostly vocal. I’m working on a lot of stuff. There are two sets of things that I’m working on. One is inspired by the idea of being in a treehouse, spring time-like music, lounge music, that whole world. That’s what I’ve been playing with. What does that mean all together? That’s kind of what I’m trying to figure out. I’m not sure which one is going to come out, but I’m calling the first one treehouse and then the second one, I’m calling right now cloudhouse. I’m not sure of the real title, this is a working title. [Cloudhouse] is all about the feeling of being on an airplane with the air pressure, or like being in a hot sauna. It’s a similar relaxing vibe. Like Eski-influenced. Kinda grimey, more UK music.
That’s what I’ve been playing with, vaguely. I’m exploring what I can do with my voice, within those kinds of moods, as opposed to that wobbling, purple mood.
POP: I interviewed Graham Bertie from former Thunderheist last year and he told me that he didn’t believe in instant hype because it doesn’t last. You’ve experience your big break, relatively fast, through the Internet. Is it something that you’re worried about? Being an Internet phenomenon?
Le1f: I don’t even think there is such thing anymore, as “Internet Phenomenon” anymore. I mean, what has happened because of people tweeting. People like M.I.A. and tons of bands that by definition would be considered Internet phenomenons.
I would never deny that I use Soundcloud or Twitter for my music, but I think the only people in the music industry that are making money at all right now, are Internet phenomenon and pop music. Otherwise, you’re just not making money. *Laughs*
POP: You have said before in an interview that you don’t like the term “Gay Rap” because you don’t believe it’s a genre. Yet when I was reading about you, a lot of people still use that term to refer to your style. Does it still bother you?
Le1f: Yes. It still bothers me.
POP: Now what can we expect from your show tomorrow?
Le1f: I’m putting on some platform shoes tomorrow. We’re driving, which means I could bring stuff in the car. So since I didn’t have to go through the airport, I decided to bring my platform shoes. It might get crazy tomorrow.
POP: That’s sick! What color are they?
Le1f: Black. Keep it classic. *Laughs*
Don’t miss Le1f tonight at Peer Pressure’s 7th Heaven Party at Underworld. Night starts at 10pm. $15 at the door. See full details here.