Leikeli47 Breaks Down The Secret To Her Success
Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

When your talent is as bold as your aspiration to become a star, but you’re equally as shy, what do you?

For Brooklyn rapper, producer and songwriter Leikeli47, perhaps the solution is to rock a face mask that coordinates with her clothes and call it fashion.

Her left-of-center flyness perfectly complements her genre-bending music, which sounds like the love child of Missy Elliott and MF Doom and is rife with empowerment anthems such as “Girl Blunt” and “Attitude.” Both were featured on Insecure and “Attitude” is on her breakout debut album, Wash & Set.

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Last November Leikeli47 released Acrylic, and its single “Tic Boom” has already found its way onto the playlist of another TV show, Freeform’s Grown-ish.

On the eve of going on tour, the artist gives us a peek into her mind and shows why we’re awestruck.

On being a masked maven: “My mask sets it all off. I work with certain stylists [on an as-needed basis], but for the most part, everything [that] comes from my closet [is] dramatically comfortable. I love [it] when people are drawn to my personal style. I fight for it and I win.”

On MF DOOM getting props: “A lot of people fail to acknowledge [rapper] MF Doom as a forefather of just what I do [as a performer] and this whole mystery lane of just being real incognito in your art. MF Doom deserves so much more credit.”

On fighting the good fight: “I don’t believe in no. It just means ‘hold on’ to me—like ‘not right now’ or ‘give me a second’ or ‘come back later.’ I don’t see boxes. I don’t see trials. I know they’re there, and it annoys me that we’re so often reminded of hurdles. We’re always faced with the barriers, but for someone like me, I’ll walk right through them like they’re invisible. I guess that’s what makes me a game changer.”

This story originally appeared in Essence magazine, on newsstands now.