Lakeyah Gets Honest About Her Hopes For Hip-Hop's Future: "No Men, All Girls"

Getty | Bennett Raglin Prince Williams
Photo Illustration: Aly Lim
Getty | Bennett Raglin Prince Williams
Photo Illustration: Aly Lim

Milwaukee native Lakeyah burst onto the hip-hop scene in 2020 with her breakout hit, "Big Flexher," introducing the world to one of the newest rap girls out of the Midwest. At just 22 years old, Lakeyah has solidified her place as a prominent woman in hip-hop, emerging at a time when rising stars like Latto, GloRilla, Doechii, and others are also putting on for women in hip-hop.

To date, she's released a handful of full-length projects (2020's "Time's Up"; 2021's "In Due Time" and Gangsta Grillz mixtape "My Time"; and 2022's "No Pressure" Pts. 1 and 2) and hit singles, and has even more music on the way. She's also a star on BET+'s "The Impact: Atlanta" reality series, which looks at the lives of top influencers like herself. With that title to her name, Lakeyah has high hopes for her future in hip-hop, as she's still just getting started.

In honor of hip-hop's 50th anniversary, Lakeyah reflects on how she was formally introduced to the culture, the artists who've inspired her, and what more she hopes to see from hip-hop in the future. Hint: a femcee takeover. Read it all, in her own words, ahead.

How hip-hop first came into my life is because my mom did a lot of listening to music. Of course, I feel like everybody when they come across music — it's from their parents or people that they're around a lot. I was always in the house with my mom, and she listened to a lot of Wale and Rick Ross. I'm telling you, those are my top two male artists. And then, of course, I saw Nicki Minaj. I think the first song outside of "Itty Bitty Piggy" that I heard was "Right Thru Me." I was like, my girl can sing, too? I'm like, this is something I really want to do. I could see myself doing it. Singing and rapping are two things I'm talented at, so I can just take over this lane and I can get paid while doing it — this is what I'm gonna do. Nicki being authentic and really caring about the bars inspired me. I love somebody that cares about lyrics, because I started with poetry. So when it comes to that, I'm super serious about it, and she respects talent. Any hip-hop artist that's doing that, I'm like in love with it.

I just love the people that paved the way. They're super important for girls like me, because look at the industry right now: so many people, so many types of representation for each girl.

"The perfect world is female collaborations in the industry, for sure. More women taking over the spots that they deserve."

I remember last year I did an interview and somebody asked me, "What do you see hip-hop being like so many years from now?" I was like, "I can just see so many females taking over." We're seeing that every day — it's a new female artist coming out, whether it's rap or R&B, and she's really opening the lane for herself and conquering it. I just love that, because when I came in — I've been doing this in the industry for three years now — it wasn't as many people to look up to. When I was doing it when I was younger, like 15, I was finding so many underground artists, female artists, that couldn't break through. Now it's so easy, and labels aren't looking for female artists to break. I just love that.

Every time I meet a new girl, they're so supportive of me. They tell me how long they've been watching me, and they want to collab. It's so much love being shown, and I really, really f*ck with that. Because you never know. We already going through a lot of stuff, whether it be with labels or fans or comments you gotta deal with on the internet, people's opinions every day. So when you're with girls that are so supportive, it makes it so much easier to be doing this, and it feels fun. Like it's not a job every day.

In a perfect world, the future of hip-hop would be no men, all girls. Let's just get them out the door. The perfect world is female collaborations in the industry, for sure. More women taking over the spots that they deserve. More women CEOs having record labels. I would love to see that. All female tours, sh*t like that. My headliner would definitely be Nicki and Cardi B, and they would have to do their big one. I'd mix it up with Summer Walker and Tink, too, because I would need to balance that. And then add some new girls to space it out, like Latto, me, Maiya the Don, and just finish out the show. Rock out.

— As told to Njera Perkins