LE1F is always looking toward the future. Since the release of his debut mixtape Dark York in 2012, the Manhattan-raised rapper born Khalif Diouf has been renowned his circles and across the media for pushing boundaries with everything from lyrics, the technicalities of his flow and his beat choices. Producers are only now catching up to the sound of its first single “Wut.” With an almost-lifelong background in ballet and modern dance, as well as a degree in dance from Wesleyan University (where he honed his music skills, learning production on FruityLoops and ultimately creating the beat for Das Racist’s breakout “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell”).
With Dark York, LE1F commanded attention from both the rap and dance music worlds – although his vibrant curiosity with his ample footwork, the deep cadence of his voice, his ability to both tell stories and flex in his lyrics and an undeniable sense of forward-thinking in his music. The subsequent release of his Fly Zone and Tree House mixtape, a collaborative EP with producer Boody called Liquid released via Boysnoize and his Terrible Records debut EP Hey furthered that narrative. But with his first full-length Riot Boi (Terrible/XL) finds LE1F finalizing the vision. Drawing inspiration from the Riot Grrl Movement and artists like M.I.A. and Missy Elliott, the album is both a celebration of marginalized identities but without slipping into the divisive territory of “conscious rap.” In his own words, he’s “somewhere between an activist and an antagonist.”
Riot Boi features guest appearances from fellow innovators Junglepussy, House of LaDosha and Dev Hynes, as well as production from PC Music’s SOPHIE on the first single, coquette club anthem “Koi.” LE1F has received accolades from press on the cutting edge like Vice, The FADER, FACT Magazine and Pitchfork and has been featured in Vogue, Interview and BuzzFeed. But he is not just being noticed for his own artistry and his impeccable taste and prescience for the future of rap and R&B is deftly displayed through artists like Rahel, Donchristian and more signed to his own Camp & Street label.