Like the best of M.I.A, Cardi B and Kamaiyah rolled into one, Brooklyn rapper Leikeli47 alternates between the introspective and thrilling braggadocio. It’s seldom that a new artist emerges to help shift the landscape of what’s happening in music; one that not only has the ability to embrace current sounds but take those sounds to a place that others haven’t yet dared.
The Bed Stuy-bred MC Leikeli47’ keeps her facial appearance under lock-and-key, many aspects of her personal life are also left to the imagination, leaving her words and performance as the centre of the audience attention.
On her latest release, Acrylic, Leikeli47 beckons us into her patchwork world with a current of ferocious pride, inspired in part by a recent moment of violence in her community. As she was working out the album’s final details this past August, disturbing footage emerged online of employees at the 888 Happy Red Apple Nails salon in East Flatbush throwing acetone on and beating two black women customers. Taking place in an Asian-owned and -staffed business catering to a majority-black clientele, the incident came during a summer chock-full of black people being harassed and abused on camera, highlighting historical animosities between Asian-owned beauty businesses in black neighborhoods.
The footage served as a rallying cry for black women in Flatbush to speak out against businesses that disrespect and abuse them, and for Leikeli47, it reinforced the reasons she makes music in the first place: to celebrate the places and people that give her strength, no matter how unappreciated by the mainstream they may be. That undiminishable pride in her black womanhood propels Acrylic and makes it forcefully and undeniably intimate. While zipping through New York City in a rideshare, Leikeli47 explained the inspirations, hopes, and process behind her new album — insistent as always that her music reveals the most important truths about herself.