Leikeli47 may rap about having money, smoking "girl blunts," and having an attitude, but behind her signature mask — a sartorial choice that "keeps the focus on the art" while creating a character — is a woman hustling and grinding to make her dreams come true.
The musician has had a busy year following the November release of her album Acrylic and embarking on a tour of the same name. The LP is an ode to black-owned nail salons that often serve as safe spaces for people of color, and that's precisely what Leikeli47's tour was all about: connecting with her fans to create a fun and inclusive environment. "What stuck with me during the tour, honestly, was the people," she told POPSUGAR over the phone on Aug. 8. "Just seeing different people, seeing a sold-out crowd — it was a great experience."
"I'm just grateful to go and live out my dream and work to be the greatest version of myself."
While Leikeli47 took her show on the road, she was also dubbed Skullcandy's artist of the month in June. In partnership with the audio electronic company, she took part in a beauty salon-inspired photo session for their 12 Moods campaign and spoke with the brand about her evolving career. As a fashion enthusiast — a passion that's evident in her vibrant music videos — Leikeli47 especially loved working on the shoot and modeling cotton candy pink ensembles against a rosy background. "It was dope how they matched up the artist with colors and things of that nature. We just had a lot of fun on set," she added.
Although going on tour and collaborating with a big-name brand are impressive accomplishments of their own, Leikeli47's year of opportunity and growth is far from over. On Aug. 24, she's set to take the stage at Afropunk in Brooklyn, NY, which holds an extra special meaning to her. Not only did she grow up in Brooklyn, but the festival falls right in line with the her mission to support and embrace the beauty of blackness. And even though she already performed at Afropunk in 2017, the excitement this time around hasn't faded a single bit.
"It means everything to get out there and perform," she said, reflecting on Afropunk's cultural significance. "It's such a beautiful crowd. When I got to do it the first time, I was kind of in shock. But it's fun to be a part of that experience. This year, I'm looking forward to all of the fashion, I'm looking forward to seeing the other artists — I'm actually looking forward to what I'm going to do because I often surprise myself. I'm just grateful to go and live out my dream and work to be the greatest version of myself."
Even with all of the moving parts in Leikeli47's life, there's one thing she's most excited about: her next album (because the grind really never stops for her). The next collection of bops is titled Shape Up. "It's going to be the end of my beauty series," she said, referring to her trilogy of albums that currently consists of 2017's Wash & Set and 2018's Acrylic. There's no official release date for the upcoming LP, but she's focused on perfecting the album before it drops, because mediocrity isn't a part of her DNA. That's why she also encourages other artists to put their all into mastering a craft.
"Do what you have to do to free yourself and get whatever inspires you out of your heart and into the world," she advises. "You also have to work extremely hard. There's a certain work ethic that should come with being yourself and being free. And outwork yourself; don't think about outworking another person. Be the best person you can be, and keep pushing and striving. And just have fun."