“I make a neo-nazi kamikaze wanna firebomb.”
It’s official: Wesleyan’s own Le1f is da bomb diggity and he’s got ya moms feelin’ him.
New York’s pioneering queer-rap personality went by Khalif Diouf ’11 at Wesleyan and drew heated acclaim last spring for his Dark York mixtape, which FADER called “one of the most provocative rap releases so far this year.” This week, Le1f dropped his debut video, and it’s probably the most outrageously booty-shaking YouTube spot this side of Big Freedia’s “Y’all Get Back Now.”
Highlights include shots of the bold rapper swinging from the ceiling like a bat, spitting speed rhymes from the lap of a Picachu-masked stranger, and shaking his scantily clad booty in many directions. (Not coincidentally, Le1f opened up for the Booty Queen herself in Eclectic last April.) Directed by Sam Jones ’10 and produced by Josh Koenig ’09 (and featuring a few other alums along the way), the video has clear viral potential, but the track’s no slacker on its own, offering up an infectious horn-honk of a groove that stutters lightly over Le1f’s grimy drum claps and deep-voiced chant of a hook.
Is this Le1f’s big break? In addition to the usual suspects, Gawker has taken notice, describing the rapper as “very good and very gay.” “That we live in a time that could give birth and positive attention to Le1f is a beautiful thing,” writes the blog, which apparently doesn’t realize Le1f is a graduate of the Most Annoying Liberal Arts College in the U.S. Meanwhile, The FADER just published a short feature on Le1f, in which the rapper rejects the “gay rap” label and reveals that he chose to omit politically charged tracks about queer rights from his mixtape. “I am gay,” says Le1f, “and I’m proud to be called a gay rapper, but it’s not gay rap”:
“Before I rapped explicitly about dick, they could still tell I was gay but they called my music campy instead. Now that I’m rapping about sleeping with dudes, I’m always a gay rapper. I prefer that, because there’s nothing campy about what I do. It’s all real.” He says he wrote political songs about gay rights, but left them off of the album. “I am gay, and I’m proud to be called a gay rapper, but it’s not gay rap. That’s not a genre. My goal is always to make songs that a gay dude or a straight dude can listen to and just think, This dude has swag. I get guys the way straight rappers get girls. I’m not preachy. The best thing a song can be called is good.”