it’s time to move past praising le1f for being a “gay rapper” and just praise him for being on some next-level shit. #soundcheck

July 31, 2013

Hip-hop has a (deserved) reputation for being homophobic, but contrary to what many op-eds on the subject would have you believe, it’s not exactly more homophobic than the rest of American culture. It’s at best louder (though Adam Sandler’s late period and unjustifiably popular gay panic “comedies” are certainly nothing if not loud). But we live in a society that loves to point fingers without examining our own flaws, so those op-eds aren’t likely to stop any time soon. Since LE1F broke a year ago, the press has been about “OMG! He’s a gay rapper.” Which is about as deserving of a punch to the face as if you were to say “meet LE1F, he’s my gay friend!” As he spits on “Airbending,” “I am whatever you say I am / Stop worrying about how gay I am / Or how gay I’m not / Does my shit not knock?”

The fact is, LE1F’s shit knocks hard. LE1f is one of the most compelling, mind-bending, and genre-expanding artists in the game right now. Since being introduced to the world as the beatsmith behind Das Racist’s “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” LE1F has made a point of pushing hip-hop in new and exciting directions. His debut mixtape Dark York was the hip-hop equivalent of a Tumblr blog filled with animated gifs. Bright, flashy, and disorienting, while also drawing you in to its preposterous level of detail and complexity.

LE1F’s music trolls the listener. Provoking with a preemptive eye roll. If you’re pissed off, then you’re thinking about it, which means LE1F is winning. His latest mixtape Fly Zone brings in more outside producers for a hit of Ritalin, but all of them are working within LE1F’s wheelhouse of hyper-dense electronica. Like Aphex Twin’s so called “intelligent dance music” from the early 90’s, tracks like “Spa Day” are designed to move the body without neglecting the mind. It may be a hot second before we’re seeing LE1F break into the mainstream, but in the meantime stop worrying about how gay LE1F is, and just fucking get down.

– Words by Nathan Leigh

* LE1F will play AFROPUNK Festival 2013. To RSVP or Make a Donation to AFROPUNK Fest 2013, click HERE.