Lakeyah Talks New Music For the Summer and Her Career
Lakeyah Is Making Power Moves This Summer
Image Source: Motown Records
When it comes to Lakeyah, everything she does is big. There are only big rollouts, big announcements, and big moves for the 21-year-old rapper repping Midwest hip-hop. Lakeyah — newly signed to Motown Records (in addition to Quality Control Music) — is gearing up to take over the summer airwaves. With the release of her single "I Look Good" and a new collaboration with Latto, the Milwaukee native is ready to show the world the tricks she has up her sleeve.
"I'm representing from Milwaukee all the way to Ohio, and I love that for my city . . ."
"It's so much growth in the music," she tells POPSUGAR of her upcoming summer project. "I stepped out of my comfort zone for sure, as everybody can see with my new single I dropped ["I Look Good"] . . . I wanted to work with a lot of different and big producers, creative people, and you can hear the confidence in my music."
Lakeyah's style of rap, best described as "sh*t-talking music," is boastful in every sense of the word. Confidence is exactly what she exudes on every track she records, and part of that is because she's one of very few representing a region of hip-hop that doesn't often get credit. "I'm representing from Milwaukee all the way to Ohio, and I love that for my city because we haven't had an artist come out since Coo Coo Cal," Lakeyah explains, also highlighting Detroit acts like Molly Brazy and Doughboyz Cashout. "I'm a female too, a young female out of Milwaukee, so I just feel like [this moment] is great and I wanted to shine some positive light on our [music] scene."
Image Source: Motown Records/Jaden Aikman
Lakeyah's rap style, self-described as "sh*t-talking music," is boastful in every sense. She displays her cocky swagger on every track she records, partly because she's one of few representing a region of hip-hop that doesn't often get credit. "I'm representing from Milwaukee all the way to Ohio, and I love that for my city because we haven't had an artist come out since Coo Coo Cal," Lakeyah explains. She also highlights Detroit acts like Molly Brazy and Doughboyz Cashout. "I'm a female, too, a young female out of Milwaukee, so I just feel like [this moment] is great, and I wanted to shine some positive light on our [music] scene."
"That's just how it started, and I was like, I really am good at this sh*t."
Lakeyah set her bar high after making a splash in 2020 with her "Time's Up" EP. Fans raved over standout tracks like "Worst Thing" and "Big FlexHer." The rapper followed up with even more bangers on her 2021 project "In Due Time" — which featured her hit song "Too Much." But despite all that success, Lakeyah is still hyperfocused on blowing her listeners away with something even better. "I got a lot of fans that don't think I can top 'Too Much' and 'Worst Thing,' but I got some good sh*t coming for them," she declares.
Breaking into the music industry is no easy feat for any artist, especially with a never-ending flood of talent. Singing was Lakeyah's gateway to music, but she soon realized she had a gift for rhyming when she discovered poetry. "I joined a poetry-slam team when I was in high school. It was around the time that my stepfather had passed away, and I did a rendition to 'I Miss You,' and it kind of went viral," she shares. "So, I just kept going after that. My poetry people were like, 'You sound like a rapper.' Then I went back and did another challenge — Monica's 'So Gone' [in 2016] — and that was my first real viral moment. It was everywhere. I posted it on Facebook, it made it to Instagram, and then I started accumulating a lot of followers and subscribers on Instagram and YouTube. That's just how it started, and I was like, I really am good at this sh*t."
Growing up, Lakeyah took much inspiration from artists her mother played while cleaning around the house. Artists from Wale and Rick Ross to Trina and Lauryn Hill gave her a love for "classic vibes." But Nicki Minaj was her biggest motivation for becoming an emcee. "I was just infatuated by how versatile she was," Lakeyah says. "She did everything, and that's what made me want to be in the industry."
"He chose me to be his next [star]."
Lakeyah's ambition has taken her to heights most artists don't reach in the early years of their careers, but that doesn't mean she didn't have challenges. With only $1,500 to her name, she moved to Atlanta in 2018. She went to college and worked a few odd jobs while she pushed her music; she sold everything from clothes to hair on Instagram. "I was a one-stop shop over here," she notes. As her following grew online, Lakeyah realized she had the power of social media on her side. Her hustle eventually helped her catch Quality Control's attention, and in 2020 she inked a deal with the label. And just like that, she became the latest up-and-comer to stand alongside superstars like City Girls, Lil Baby, and Migos.
Having the support of a well-established label, Lakeyah got the push she needed to enter her next phase, much of which she credits to CEO Pierre "P" Thomas. "When I first got signed, he put me right in the studio and we started recording," she shares. "I came with a couple songs, and he gave me a City Girls feature right out the gate . . . I think his whole formula with me is just consistency, and that kept me in the conversation a lot, besides my talent, of course . . . He chose me to be his next [star]. [He said], 'I want you to blow up. I want you to be the star, another star.' So, the whole label, but mainly P, really, really believes in me."
"Y'all are going to see my face everywhere."
In almost two years of being a signed recording artist, Lakeyah earned her spot in XXL's 2021 Freshman Class. She even showed off her rapping skills in BET's Digital Cypher last year. Now, ahead of her summer project's release, Lakeyah says she's focused on staying booked and busy. Her first order of business: her new single "Mind Yo Business," featuring Latto, which dropped on June 3. After that, the rapper says we can expect to see her everywhere.
"I was speaking to my team, and they just like, 'Get your vacations out the way [now] because you're going to be back-to-back-to-back booked outside,' which is what I like to hear," Lakeyah says. "I'd rather be busy than bored, you know? So, studio time and work for Lakeyah. Y'all are going to see my face everywhere. I'm going to be on all the carpets. Don't play with that girl."