You hear Leikeli47 before you see her. Mostly because it's really hard to actually see her, since she wears a ski mask when out in public, usually with her braids propped atop her head and her eyes peeking through a slit. The mask is her cape, she’s said in the past, and makes her easy to miss (her petite size is also a factor). She wears it to keep the focus on her art and her music. “It’s a genderless, faceless, colorless, sexless way to get out there and say, ‘Have fun, dance, don’t look at me,’” she told Kitty Cash in our June/July 2016 issue. “In this mask I’m whoever the hell I want to be and talk about what I want to talk about.”
She does a lot of talking, rapping, and even some singing (some really good singing!) on her debut album, Wash & Set. It’s a cohesive project that showcases Leikeli47’s range and exceptional ability to make a really solid going-out-with-friends track—or, like, 14. Makes sense, friendship is a big theme on the project. So is hair—specifically black women’s hair—as evidenced in the title. “It's about letting your hair down, literally,” she tells us about the record. “A celebration of new growth. A story of letting go and completely owning just who you are with no apologies. A tribute to black Americans who pursue their dreams.”
Ahead, we have Leikeli47 walk us through every track off of Wash & Set. But before you read her words, listen to the album that is bound to soundtrack every single one of your nighttime ventures from here on out. TGIF, ladies.
This song was created for those who understand the importance of sacrifice and all that comes with it. It's a call to greatness, reminding you to never play second fiddle to anything.
"Miss Me" is pretty self-explanatory. It's about no longer putting up with other people's nonsense and protecting your peace. One of the many things I've learned along my journey is that my peace is important and in order for me to be at my best, I must protect it at all costs. I have no room for dismissive or cynical vibes. Therefore, you can miss me.
I very much had an attitude while creating this song. It was just one of those days, man, and I had to air out my irritation. I was inspired by Issa Rae's classic mirror freestyles—that she absolutely kills, by the way—and decided to turn my annoyance into something I can dance and have fun to.
This is another fun one. Performance during the recording process is very important to me because I never ever want to cheat the people. I love the sassiness that's portrayed on this record. It was all about the attitude for me, so I had to channel that girl in the booth.
It is what it is.
This song isn't all about currency, but more about the work. Real money don't complain, we make it happen.
"M I L K"
My obvious muse for this record is none other than my incredible Milk beauty family. They inspire on every level there is.
"Don't Do It"
I remember being in the studio and just having a lot of fun with this one. It was inspired by MC Debra, the doll.
I was having a conversation with my OG Angela Hunte, and she just simply pushed me to go there and have fun.
This song was inspired by both the ballroom and runway culture. Kimora Lee Simmons was my muse.
I fully respect the girl code, so that's the space this song was created in. I can only speak on how I roll, so, if you have a girl, keep it moving sir. If you ever kicked it with any of the homies in the past, and you now think you're gonna come and try it over this way? It's an absolute no, sir. Bye, ho. Ha.
Elian is a character that most people can relate to. Relationships can be a little trying for some and, in this case, she decides to take her power back by simply switching her number up.
"Braids tuh'da Flo(w)"
This is an ode to all the beautiful, astute, hardworking women who go out there and kill it every day. This one is for my girl DJ Lindsey who completely turned it out at Afropunk, all while breastfeeding her newborn in between sets. From the DJ booth to the boardroom, we get it done. One love to all the mothers out there who handle their handle with zero excuses.
"Wash & Set"
This is a tribute to black women who unapologetically chase after their dreams and the hair that journeys with us. It's sassy and fun, just like most of the girls I looked up to coming up in my neighborhood. From finger waves to floor-length braids, it's a celebration of new growth.