instant love: leikeli47’s “hoyt and schermerhorn”

November 21, 2018
252 Picks

There are many reasons why Leikeli47‘s new album, Acrylic, is one of the year’s best — and not simply as a rap album either. It’s a concept work whose concept has layers upon layers upon layers, just like its surface subject, the nail salon. It’s a huge party record, but also deeply thoughtful in what it wants to talk about at the party, its beats pursuing a broad musical world without usurping the focus, which remains focused squarely on the story of the woman behind the mask. Its music is universal, claiming no single rap heritage; yet from its song-titles to its references, Lekeli47 has definitely produced a classic New York album, and, even more specifically, a Brooklyn album.

“Hoyt and Schemerhorn” is one of those songs that jumped out instantly at us, providing proof of all Acrylic‘s genius at once. Maybe its because the AFROPUNK office is four stops away on the “C” train from the Downtown Brooklyn subway station that gives the song its title — a title that never comes up in the song but is there to give a specific location to its “love train” narrative. Maybe its how the invocation of reggae DJ sing-song-ness works as both a lover’s-rock vibe for the couple in the song lyrics, and as a nod to how New York hip-hop and Brooklyn rap have always carried Jamaica in its DNA. And maybe its how the song flips classic Lauryn Hill and Wu-Tang feels (Leikeli47’s rap straight-channeling Meth’s classic declaration of love to Mary J on “All I Need”), yet also has a big-ass pop chorus that could have been created by classic songwriters at Motown or the Brill Building, any time in the last 50 years.

It is Leikeli47’s exceptional skill at being both specific and all-inclusive that jumps out on “Hoyt and Schermerhorn” and throughout Acrylic. Simply the best!