The Break Presents: Lakeyah – XXL
Written by DJ AquaTrunk on December 16, 2020
Milwaukee rapper Lakeyah had a goal to be signed to Quality Control Music, and that moment came to fruition this year, but she’s been putting in plenty of work on the road to get there.
Introducing herself to the arts by writing and competing on a poetry slam team in high school, a then-15-year-old Lakeyah had the foundation to become a rapper. Urged by her friends in her hometown of Milwaukee to try out rapping, she submitted a song for Monica’s #SoGoneChallenge in 2016 (Lakeyah’s freshman year of high school), and quickly went viral on Facebook. Lakeyah accepted this as a sign to continue moving forward with rapping and started dropping freestyles on Facebook and Instagram. By 2017, Lakeyah was a social media force, racking up tens of thousands of followers due to her sharp bars.
Once she turned 18 in 2019, a birthday trip to Atlanta changed her career trajectory after she saw Quality Control Music’s exhibit at T.I.’s Trap Museum. Deciding that she would one day be a QC artist, Lakeyah told her mom she wanted to go to the Art Institute of Atlanta, only to drop out after attending for two months even though her mother already covered six months of rent. Now an Atlanta resident, the aspiring rhymer continued to drop new music and tag Quality Control Music cofounder Pierre “P” Thomas on her social media posts, remixing QC songs in hopes of getting onto his radar.
Her strategy paid off in late 2019, when she went viral for her swing at the #FirstDayOutChallenge, in celebration of JT of the City Girls being let out of jail last October. P called Lakeyah in January of 2020, trying to get a read on her, then didn’t reach back out until this past July, when she smoked another freestyle. This time, she delivered rhymes over Lil Baby and 42 Dugg’s “We Paid.” Lil Baby retweeted her on Twitter and gave her props; P signed her a week later.
Now, Lakeyah has her official debut, 10-track project, Time’s Up, out (released last week), and she’s ready to continue excelling at her craft to keep her momentum going. With Time’s Up released, she speaks to XXL via phone for this week’s edition of The Break.
I grew up listening to: “Nicki Minaj, Drake, more of like old R&B artist, like Musiq Soulchild, Lyfe Jennings. Nicki is a favorite, Drake, too. R&B, it was Pandora, coming up, hearing the music. When I listened to different radios on Pandora, I just started liking them, not gon’ lie.”
My style’s been compared to: “Detroit artists. They tell me I sound like Molly Brazy. Some people say Saweetie—I don’t think I sound like Saweetie. I think its pretty normal because they do that to people that’s fresh in the game, especially girls. I was trending on YouTube because Milwaukee was arguing with Detroit, and my song started trending. I’m glad that we were fighting with y’all. [Quality Control Music cofounder] P was so proud that I was trending. I didn’t even tell him it’s because we arguing on Twitter. They like, ‘She wanna be from Detroit so bad!’ But I love Detroit. My song is in rotation in Detroit. The bigger artists in Detroit, they hit me up all the time, like, ‘I need you on this. I need you on that.”
I’m going to blow up because: “I just started getting into angel numbers, and I keep seeing 444 everywhere. Second, all the love and support I been getting, I thought it was gonna be hard, going into a label, everyone pretty much very long into their career. But they super welcoming, everybody treat me like they lil sister. I’m getting all this support from big celebrities. P shows me off. He’ll be like, ‘Come to the studio,’ and when I’m there, he like, ‘Show ’em why I signed you!’ And I’m just playing music the whole night. It’s a dream come true. This is the only label that I wanted to be signed to.”
What’s your most slept-on song, and why?: “I feel like that about a lot of my songs. I have a following that really likes my R&B side. But I wanna rap hard, all the time, so, it’s kinda hard to keep that balance. I gotta throw in R&B songs on my tapes or projects because my hard shit, it gets overlooked sometimes. So, I feel like that about a lot of songs.”
My standout records to date have been: “‘Windows’ did really good for it to just be me on the song. I thought that ‘Big FlexHer’ moved so fast, because I had a feature. It’s nice to see that. I think ‘Big FlexHer’ is getting a lot of response because it was my debut single. I got a lot of support from my city, which is very rare. I was really slept-on in my city. It’s catchy, the hook on ‘Big FlexHer.’ ‘[Windows],’ I just know what my people like, and they love to cry.”
My standout moments to date have been: “Trending on YouTube. And meeting Lil Baby and just being on the same label as him. He’s like the biggest artist in the world right now. I’m joking with my girlfriend in the car—because P told me to come to the studio, the day after he signed me—I’m joking with my girlfriend like, ‘You know you finna meet Lil Baby right?’ This like our favorite artist. We been messing with Lil Baby when he was coming up. ‘My Dawg.’ I pull up to the studio and [Lil] Yachty and Lil Baby sitting on the car. I’m like, ‘See, I just be speaking shit into existence!’ I told him, ‘I’m the girl who you shared [on social media] and said I was hard.’ He was like, ‘Oh yeah, I woulda signed you, but I don’t know what to do with girls!'”
Most people don’t know: “I’m allergic to nuts. All of ’em. I [found out when] my sister fed me a cookie with almonds in it, and that was just crazy.”
I’m going to be the next: “Pop star.”
“Big FlexHer” featuring 42 Dugg
“Female Goat” featuring City Girls
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