By: Tanner Cole

In a genre infamous for its struggles with homophobia, Le1f is a breath of fresh air equipped with an arsenal of filthy beats and overtly sexual lyrics.

      Gay rappers are few and far between. In 2013 Eminem soared the charts for his single, “Rap God,” which featured homophobic slurs throughout. Arguably the biggest voice in hip-hop for LGBT rights is Macklemore, a straight, white male.

      With his latest EP, “Hey”, Le1f is launching a career that could truly champion gay voices in the rap game. Luckily, Le1f’s tracks do the pursuit justice.

      “Ukrainian cutie – he really want to cuddle,” Le1f raps in his hit single “Wut”. “The fever in his eyes – he want to suckle on my muscle.”

      Although “Wut” was released nearly two years ago now, the track serves as a centerpiece here. Its horns coupled with one of Le1f’s blistering flows has created what might be his most accessible song to date. If you have only heard one track by Le1f, it’s this one, and odds are you happily bounced along with it.

      Not to be defined by the past, Le1f also offers the catchy new single “Boom”. Complete with a provocative music video, this track demonstrates that Le1f is still producing easily consumed music today. Given the attention he has been receiving recently, this is a very good thing.

      “Hey” combats hip-hop’s awkwardly archaic stereotype with bouncing bass and unending sass. Le1f has fine-tuned his pop sensibilities for this release and is clearly targeting a more mainstream audience than his previous art-rap mixtapes. 

      Together, these songs sound like 15 minutes of a confident man flaunting. One-word song titles and short track lengths make this EP feel like a teaser of things to come. The new songs are delivered with a sense of self-assurance, and “Wut” has been cleaned up by Daniel Lynas to match the production quality throughout the record.

      These tracks sound like rap from the near future. Le1f’s delivery is low-pitched and extremely quick. New listeners may have some difficulty understanding his lines at first, but his unashamed message shines through regardless.

      A contributing factor to any difficulty one may have discerning Le1f’s lyrics is his lack of a comparable style. He is not exceptionally East-coast, nor is his flow similar to any big-name contemporaries. “Hey” doesn’t revolutionize anything, and yet Le1f’s voice on it is fresh and representative of a new age for hip hop.

      Rappers like Cakes da Killa have been pushing sexual orientation boundaries in hip-hop without much commercial success. Fortunately, Le1f is showing all the signs of blowing up. This EP is receiving good reviews from critics and widespread attention. A hit full-length followup could make Le1f an icon for the gay community within the rap world.

      No matter how successful the followup, there is more to hear from Le1f. Start listening today and his voice may have more of an impact tomorrow.

     You can find Le1f’s new EP on iTunes.