Le1f is a hugely unique US rapper who’s collaborated with the likes of Kelela and Dizzee Rascal, few MCs manage be out and proud, never mind graduate from Wesleyan University studying ballet and modern dance, but the androgynous rapper and beatmaker plays by nobody’s rules but his own, flitting between crunk, electronica and hip-hop like a human Tumblr feed with a short attention span.
The Hug and Pint basement may seem an odd location for such an artist to showcase their talents, but the fact the small crowd look like such a varied bunch speaks to Le1f’s ability to transcend musical tribes.
From making beats for Das Racist to the Pokemon-meets-twerking video to breakout track ‘Wut’, Le1f has proven himself to be entirely his own creature; a brash and hedonistic, but multi-talented party animal with a quick tongue.
On stage he’s a striking figure, dressed in black with long hair extensions; opening with ‘Koi’, the first single from his debut album Riot Boi, he raps “watch me shake that ass like a calabash” and the crowd go nuts.
The track itself is a concentrated sugar rush produced by SOPHIE that shakes The Hug and Pint speakers like a cotton candy artillery drop.
The best reaction though is saved for ‘Wut’; from the opening beat everyone in the room is shaking themselves into a frenzy and when the beat drops out for Le1f to deliver his killer blow to bigotry and prejudice “I make a neo-Nazi kamikaze wanna firebomb”, it’s such a definitive and powerful statement of radicalism that the audience look quite shaken.
Seeing Le1f rattle through a dozen tracks in just half an hour, in front of a blaring backing track is an intense way to spend an evening, but even after the show ends the singer himself is on the floor dancing with the crowd; unwilling to let the moment pass and the world needs more stars like that.
Words: Max Sefton
Photos: Cameron Brisbane