“I don’t feel pressure to make anything because of how people talk about me,” says the rapper Khalif Diouf — better known by his stage name, Le1f. People talk about him plenty.
Since the video for the horn-skronking, space-rap anthem “Wut” broke through in 2012, the quick-rhyming New York rapper has enjoyed the fawning attention of fans, who splice his booty-popping music videos into suitably alluring GIFs, and Internet haters, who narrow in on his status as an openly queer rapper in a world where that’s still a notable enough designation to attract attention.
With a brand new EP and recently inked deal with Brooklyn-based Terrible Records, best known for indie bands like Grizzly Bear, as part of its joint deal with XL Recordings (Adele, Jack White, Radiohead et al), the rapper finally seems poised on the brink of mainstream stardom — but hasn’t sacrificed the aesthetic that’s taken him this far. He chatted with Newsweek about facing homophobia, working on his first commercially available LP, and coming up with one-word text-speak song titles.