The first time that we met Leaf, we were refreshed by her unapologetically feminist outlook on life. The millennial rapper’s journey into feminism began while she was a teenager in high school, struggling to make friends and dealing with unnecessary “girl hate” for being the odd one out. Other girls would hurl harsh words at Leaf, saying things like “derelict” and “ghetto,” because of her punk appearance. Despite the negative experience, Leaf was determined to rise above it.
“I’ve always been a strong-willed woman, someone who’s highly opinionated and not a pushover,” she says. “I’ve always loved to stand up for other people because I feel like if we don’t stand up for each other, then no one is going to stand up for you. No one ever stood up for me, so I always wanted that back.”
When Leaf initially conceptualized Magnet Bitch Movement (MBM), she wasn’t aware that it was built on the fundamentals of feminism. For her, it was created out of a necessity to fill a void in her life and establish a supportive community of girls “who were intelligent, who wanted to start their own businesses, and who weren’t so wrapped up in guys.” Around the age of 16, Leaf started immersing herself in feminist literature to further educate herself about self-empowerment.
Even though Leaf is all for using her platform to promote feminism, she says that it’s still an ongoing journey; she only recently learned about the concept of intersectional feminism and wants to continue to educate herself on the topic, but she says with a grin: “I’ll take the labels, I don’t care.”
As for music, the rapper points to Missy Elliott as one of her icons. “She’s such a goddess. She’s like, ‘Literally, there are no limits,’” says Leaf. “You put her in a box, she’s like, ‘Sorry, I’m a circle.’” And just like with her idol, the messages in Leaf’s songs speak to the importance of “self-love” and “self-freedom.”
Even though each track is delivered aggressively, Leaf is a sweet person who likes to playfully reveal her softer side. However, she’s quick to warn people not to mistake her kindness as weakness. We sat down with Leaf to learn more. Dive into the conversation, below.