Rhyme Report

Published on July 5th, 2020 | by MuzikScribe


Leaf: Living The Dream

Photo Credit: Lanscine Janneh

Tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it actually all begin for Leaf?

My rapping evolved from poetry, which I began writing at the age of eight. I was like, “I’m just gonna take my poems and I’m gonna learn how to flow.” I started free-styling with my cousin in Baruch (Houses) projects (Lower East Side) when I was 12, and by 14 was recording tracks in my friend’s closet in Chinatown. I went to New York’s famed Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, where I trained in classical music and opera, but the rigid system wasn’t for me. My great-grandfather is the famed alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, my grandfather was a jazz musician, and my parents both work in the music industry. So I was born and raised in a musical family, and of course loved it, but when I started to experience music on my terms— finding songs that spoke to me, lyrics that made me feel a way, artists that weren’t afraid to speak their minds…that’s when love turned to respect.

Now since you’re a native New Yorker, growing up in the “Big Apple,” who all did / do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?

I’m nostalgic for the ’90’s, when female role models like Lil’ Kim and Missy Elliott populated the scene. I’m also heavily influenced by those who have created an untouchable legacy– Janet Jackson, Aaliyah, and as an instrumentalist, Jimi Hendrix.

With that being said, how do you classify your overall sound and / or style?

New York gritty rap, soft vocals, heavy bass-lines…I like playing with contrasts, tones, textures…genre-fluid for sure.

In having said that, when you sit down to pen your lyrics where do you draw your inspiration(s) from?

From my life…the streets of New York, fashion, runways, subway trains, street art, underground clubs, my friends, their stories…

Where does your moniker originally derive from?

It’s my government middle name.

Let’s hop into this single / video “Is It You” — Tell me about this particular track; how did it even come to fruition? And, rapper Dave East also has a cameo in the clip — How did this high profile appearance even come about?

This video was all about New York City — we shot in the Bronx, the birth place of Hip Hop, and I wanted a real New York guy, someone you could “do some ‘hood shit” with. That’s Dave East! We work with the same people, so it wasn’t a reach, and he’s always down to support N.Y.C. rappers. Appreciate him for that.

“Is It You” comes courtesy of your now eagerly awaited, still forthcoming, next solo outing — What all specific details; i.e. title, favorite track(s), producer(s) credit(s), cameo appearance(s), etcetera, can you reveal and / or divulge about upcoming premiere set at this particular point in time?

Stay tuned!

Switching gears here, what exactly do you want people to get from your music?

I want them to be inspired and empowered, and to feel like after they listen to my music they can do whatever they want. And just not give a fuck…Badittude!

If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Biggie— I’m from Brooklyn.

If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?

Madison Square Garden…because *haha* it’s home.

In terms of longevity, what do you feel it is that will continue to sustain you in this grueling industry?

My innovation and true love and passion for music…and my messaging is always aligned with what I’m going through, and I think a lot of girls are dealing with the same issues. We’ll grow together…and my music will reflect this over time.

Do you have any other outside / additional future aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?

Fashion and acting…we’ll see!

On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop?

Yeah, I think it’s better than it’s ever been, especially for female rappers. Hip Hop lyrics are now, and always have been, a true reflection of the times. Music has the power to spark a revolution.

To date, what has been your biggest career moment(s), at least thus far anyway?

Going on tour with Alessia Cara, performing at Khloe Kardashian’s Good American brand launch party, and creating the album I’m about to release— my music, my team, my way…it’s been a dream…and I’m really proud of it.

As for the immediate, what’s next for you, Leaf?

‘Fashion Bitch’ EP is set to release July 10th, and I’m planning on getting in the studio and collaborating a lot more.


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