Wisconsin’s slam poet-turned-rapper Lakeyah is still riding high off of the release of her Quality Control debut, “Time’s Up.” She joins us for this week’s edition of Rise & Grind where she details a night out with the City Girls, Pee’s guidance, and manifesting a collaboration with Nicki Minaj.
Rise & Grind is a brand new editorial series, meant to introduce and dissect new, buzzing, or underground artists.
Pierre “Pee” Thomas can spot star-quality in an artist before they can even see it themselves. As the Quality Control empire continues to grow beyond the success of Migos, Lil Baby, and City Girls, Wisconsin’s own Lakeyah is prepared for her time to shine. After going viral on the Internet a few times, her music fell into the lap of Pee whose been guiding her towards stardom. Time’s Up, her debut on QC, has produced hit singles like “Big FlexHER” ft. 42 Dugg and “Female GOAT” ft. City Girls.
With a new project expected to drop in the coming future, the budding Wisconsin star hopped on a quick phone call with HNHH for the latest edition of Rise & Grind where she answers 10 basic questions before diving into a quick Q&A, below.
Stay tuned for a new installment of Rise & Grind every Monday.
Rise & Grind: Lakeyah. Photo by Chad Lawson
I'm from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Midwest reppin’ but I live in Atlanta now.
I think I'm gonna be like the first famous rapper that comes from Milwaukee, from my neighborhood. [Where] I grew up, it was pretty nice. It wasn’t a suburbs type place. It wasn't really crazy, but the city overall is pretty rough, like growing up there. A lot of homicide, people dying in cars, all that type of stuff was in that city. So that's why I really wanted to leave and pursue my dream elsewhere.
I'm a Pisces. They say we're super emotional. That is me all the way in it. That really speaks to my music because I do a lot of R&B songs and I cover a lot of R&B songs. And, you know, I go through a lot of stuff as a teenage girl, relationships and just life, overall.
Top 5 DOA:
Overall, definitely just being signed. But I’m gonna say all positive feedback from my first tape dropping with this label. Like, if you search my name on Twitter, it's just so much positive feedback. Pee even said that's the most he's seen from like somebody that's just come in. In a pandemic and just being a new artist overall, it hasn't been really anything negative.
Studio Habits & Essentials:
My weird studio habit is I have to record in the dark. Sometimes, if I can't, I’ll like -- you know, how there’s a window towards the engineer? I kind of like turn my back towards him. But I definitely have to be sitting in the dark and I gotta have my heater in there, too. It's always cold in there. It's always freaking cold. It gotta be warm and it got to be in the dark.
My essentials, I gotta have my charger. I gotta grab some American Deli before I come here. Because the best American Deli in Atlanta is by the studio.
My significant other is always with me. My Beats, like, I have super loud headphones so when my engineer's playing music, I could be writing my next song if it isn’t already written. And my phone. That’s all.
“Big FlexHer” ft. 42 Dugg:
So the record was supposed to be an Instagram freestyle. I wrote a quick little verse and I was gonna freestyle it in the car and upload it. But when Pee called me to sign me, he wanted me to send him over some music. So I sent him over that song and he was like, ‘This gon’ be your single. It's hard.’
When I first met him, I [also] met [Lil] Baby, and Yachty. When they brought me into the studio they were like, Dugg would be perfect for this because it's a Detroit style beat and Dugg is from Detroit. The next day, Dugg sent the song back over with the feature on it. So, that's how the song came about. It's definitely one of my favorites that I've recorded with somebody else.
The video, we did half of it in Atlanta, when Dugg was here, and then I went back to my hometown because me, Coach and Pee decided -- the essence of the song is definitely the Midwest. So, we figured we should fly back and have the city in it. And I wanted to make sure that my city was included and looked good because they a big part of me coming up and getting recognition. So I definitely wanted to bring everybody out. And that is my favorite video that I shot so far and I’ve shot 8 videos.
I started rapping in 2014. Just like, writing stuff down because I was part of a poetry slam team. 2014 was when my little sister's dad died from a homicide. A lot of that came through in my music. Like, I did a song called “Missing You” for him. He was kind of [like] a stepfather to me. I went viral with that. It definitely helped, just growing up in that environment and being able to let my feelings out in a way that I could. And I was speaking for other people, too.
I was in my hometown so it was definitely a lot of love. It was super fun. Like, they knew every song off the tape. They loved “Female Goat” and “Big FlexHer,” of course. It was super fun. Like, it was just great not being able to, you know -- Like, people knowing the lyrics, you don't even have to rap them. It was very fun.
It was cut short though because it got really hectic after I played “Pop Out.” I was in the middle of a fight so we had to leave. It was fun, for the most part.
First of all, it was so wrapped up. Like, they couldn't even let everybody in. Then I play “Pop Out. You know, I'm just trying to get the crowd excited. It's one of those like “Knuck If You Buck”-type songs and some girls started fighting so we had to go. I didn't mean for them to fight the song just is very-- turned them up.
Binge watching every series I can. I'm a nerd at heart. I like Marvel series and those and like all that. I will binge watch everything that they have available in that category on Netflix, Hulu, whatever. That's my guilty pleasure
I just rewatched something. It was Flash or Arrow. I think it was Arrow, in about three days. The right snack, and I’m good.
Another tape, more videos. I just hope to show my face more, too. I know we are in a pandemic but like, [I want to] be outside more. I really just been working. Like studio time, phone interviews have been my thing right now. And like, Zoom calls and stuff. Hopefully, Biden gets the situation together and the world gets the situation together, so I can experience something different.
Photo by Chad Lawson
Tell me about connecting with the City Girls on “Female GOAT” and how that song came about.
I love the City Girls. Like, first of all, I thought that it was going to be outside of what they usually do but when they heard it, they were like, ‘love it,’ and finished that shit in about three days [and] sent it back over. It was perfect. When you listen to it and watch the video, it feels like you’re getting jumped by three girls. Like, that's how hard every verse was. It was just crazy.
It came about pretty easily. Like, Pee was going through all my old music because I had already dropped “Female Goat.” Like, for me, it was from 2018, so basically it was a remix. He was like, ‘You already dropped this? This is hard. We need to send it to the City Girls.’ They sent it back over in three days. And we were shooting a video in like not even a week.
Can you explain the rake scene from the “Female GOAT” video with Yung Miami? Where did the rake even come from?
First of all, I don't even think I was out there when Miami was recording her scene. But the idea definitely came from Keemotion, who directed the video, because he gave me a toolbox and a goat with my name on it. So, he gave Miami a rake cause she said, "Beat his sister with a rake," and they just handed it to her and she flung it for B-Roll.
It was so funny, especially like all the memes and stuff that was on Twitter. It was definitely funny. I loved it.
What was it like for the first time meeting the Quality Control team for the first time and how has that relationship developed?
I've met everybody on QC except the Migos which is crazy to me because I can't wait to meet them. They're like the biggest group in the world. I can't wait to meet them but everybody else is so welcoming. They were so welcoming and everybody treats me like their little sister.
Lil Baby almost came to every video shoot I've had, almost. The girls are just -- they treat me like a little sister. I went out with them once for one of their performances. But, yes I love everybody, and they love me because of Pee. Everybody knows that Pee is super excited about me so everybody just gives me that same energy.
What's a night out with the City Girls like?
They pack everything out, for one, so it was super packed. Everybody was -- I didn't even know like when I first went out with them, it was kinda like when I first got signed. I didn't even know, like, if people were gonna know me. So when I got out the sprinter with JT, I guess they were calling my name, too. And it was just so surreal because you know, I’m with the City Girls. They were probably looking for Miami because Miami came through until a minute later. But it was just always lit. It's always lit with them. They're a vibe. You can tell just through their music and how they are that their personality just comes through their music.
Who do you think is your biggest competition lyrically in the game right now?
Mulatto. I love Mulatto. She's hard. Like, I love a girl that thinks about bars and metaphors and all that then goes spit it in the studio. So, Mulatto for sure. It's never competition with females though, you know? We don't work together. Like, the industry allows unity again.
It's crazy. We've never seen as many females in the game. Me, growing up, it was always Nicki. I'm not gonna lie, it was just Nicki Minaj. It’s great. I feel like I came out at the perfect time because the industry is so accepting for women rapping. Like, it's just been crazy. Women have definitely been dominating the game.
Has Nicki Minaj reached out yet?
No. I'm manifesting it and when she reaches out, I want her to ask me to be on a song. I don't even want to talk about anything else [Laughs]. No, she hadn't but she definitely recognized me about two times. Two of her fan pages posted me. She liked it and she liked one of my TikToks before. She's seen me.
It sounds like the collaboration is on the horizon.
Yes. I feel like that's what's coming about. Power of the tongue, though. I just gotta keep saying it and it'll happen.