When I’ve been following the queer hip-hop scene I’ve spent a lot of my energies following the exploits of the irascible Mykki Blanco on pretty much every form of social media to the point that I almost forgot about Le1f. Fortunately his debut album Riot Boi was more than worth the time I spent digesting it.
At times the release is apocalyptic in its musical audacity with trap, dubstep and IDM deployed to devastating audio effect
The album is a deceptive work of art. It swirls between the aggressive to the sensual and everything inbetween and that is indicated by the myriad of genres encompassed throughout the 12 tracks. The album leader ‘Koi’ is possibly the most chart friendly effort, which makes nods to Destiny Child’s ‘Say My Name’ in its refrain. It also features all the trademarks of PC Music’s SOPHIE who produced this track (autotuned vocals that sound like a teenage girl recorded them on a karaoke machine over a happy house backing track). As I said the album is deceptive, so don’t go away thinking the release is a juvenile effort. The album is incredibly dark throughout to the point that the sweetness of ‘Koi’ midway through the album is somewhat insidious.
At times the release is apocalyptic in its musical audacity with trap, dubstep and IDM deployed to devastating audio effect. Lyrically Leif pulls no punches either and his identity is firmly asserted in ‘Grace Alek Naomi’ when he proudly declares “Fuck you, n***a, I fuck boys”. His racial identity is heartbreaking explored in ‘Taxi’ when he compared being stood up by a partner to the pain he experiences when being stood up by a yellow cab driver on the streets of New York by racist taxi driver.
My personal highlight of the release has to be the closer and collaboration ‘Change’ that shares the angst and yearning that made Cupid Deluxe my favourite album of 2013