LE1F

In a world full of rappers claiming to be one of a kind, Le1f (born Khalif Diouf) is a real deal original, a fascinatingly complicated personality full of seeming contractions. He's a Manhattan native who studied ballet and modern dance, and eventually earned a degree in dance from Wesleyan before returning to the city to become a rapper. He's an out and proud gay MC whose style is rooted in Tunnel bangers from a less socially enlightened era of hip-hop. He's a producer who's responsible for the beat behind Das Racist's "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell", a fashion icon promoting a "hoodrat Tumblr aesthetic," and Internet personality on a transcendental quest to become a living digital avatar. "The fabric of my life is a sexy fucking textile," he brags on "Yup," from his debut mixtape, Dark York, and obviously that's no joke.

Le1f has one foot in the glossy Bling Era rap hits that he came to age on and one foot in the downtown electronic scene where he developed as an artist, and Dark York is true to both sides of his heritage. The beats (by Le1f, Nguzunguzu, Matt Shadetek, and what Le1f refers to as "Soundcloud guys and Internet friends") refuse to settle into easy categories like "rap" or "dance," and Le1f's muscular, hyperarticulate flow handily disposes of any misconceptions that he's anything less than than a legitimate rapper.

Since its release in April on Heems from Das Racist's Greedhead Music imprint, Dark York-and its addictively giddy, 5kinAndBone5-produced lead single "Wut"-has made Le1f a media darling. The Fader, Spin, Pitchfork, Gawker, and a horde of tastemaking blogs have held him up as an example of the direction hip-hop's evolving towards. Even more recently the video for "Wut," which prominently showcases Le1f's prodigious twerking skills, went viral, which indicates that there might be a much bigger audience for his entire artistic package than even his most ardent fans might have suspected. The cool thing about this story is that since we've never heard it before we don't know how it's going to end.

Antwon is a new breed of rapper/musician that's part of the new more eclectic style of Hip Hop embracing Internet culture and flourishing amongst the blogosphere and file-share sector. He hails from San Jose, CA, backed by his long time friend DJ Sex Play. Many have compared his flow to that of Notorious B.I.G. His topics range from death obsession/nihilism to love of women and praise of food. His live performances generate the raw energy of a punk show, circle pit and all. His first official mixtape, Fantasy Beds, was released in September 2011. Spin heralded his End of Earth mixtape as one of the top 40 Hip Hop Albums of 2012, while Gorilla vs. Bear named it one of the top 50 Albums of 2012.

Lakutis has been lurking his blonde-locked self around the Das Racist crew for a minute now, popping in for fire guest verses, not to mention an almost-dangerously electric performance with DR at our store. Well Lakutis is ready to jump into the spotlight, and we're happy to help him do it with his brand new debut EP I'm In the Forest.

In case you couldn't tell by the battered biker jacket and the stoner-vibrant hairdo, 26 year young rapper Aleksey "Lakutis" Weintraub is a quintessential New York dirtbag: growing up uptown with his Russian mother, he spent his formative years hanging around other first-generation Americans, like his friends Himanshu Suri and Ashok Kondabolu, who would later form Das Racist. He spent his high school years swimming in late-90s early-00s grimy New York lifestyle cliches (which was, needless to say, awesome). Rap was as much a part of this lifestyle as asking kids moving to New York from Kansas for cigarettes and watching Maury Povich instead of going to high school.

But during Das Racist's meteoric rise to the top of the internet, Lakutis was honing his death freak and getting in touch with his inner blood eagle. "Most of my friends were raised on anime, comics, videogames," he says. "It kind of creates this unspoken understanding that the point of life is to become a violent maniac." Which he thinks he accomplished by waking up at 3 PM and rarely wearing a shirt. His first released efforts included "Amazing" and "Rapping 2 U," from Das Racist's 2nd album Sit Down, Man on which Lakutis compares his penis to chicken parmigiana.

For I'm in the Forest, his absurdist/nerdist debut EP (being released by us and Das Racist member Himanshu Suri's Greedhead Records), Lakutis funnels his love of NY Hardcore Punk, handball, Demolition Man, "real hip-hop", 90s fighting robot cartoon Bots Master, and various other cultural artifacts into one tightly wound EP. It is amazing, and utterly confirms something we all knew: Aleksey Weintraub might be the Golden Child.

To further understand Lakutis, here is a paragraph in which he describes his favorite Game of Thrones characters:

"Bran's a loner at heart and an escapist like me. His favorite stories are 'the scary ones.' He's very brave and sympathetic. Cersei is awesome for all the opposite reasons. She's a cruel damaged bitch that fucks her brother. The sadistic way she endears herself with Sansa and wants to hurt her because she reminds her of a younger her is amazing. I just finished reading the first book that parallels the fist season of GOT and Cersei seems like the only character they made more complicated and slightly more sympathetic in the show. I don't think I recall them giving any explanation as to why she's such a bitch in the book but in the show they have one scene where she pleads with Robert and tells him how she worshipped him when they were married and asks him if he ever felt anything for her. It's heartbreaking and gives the audience a rare moment to sympathize with an otherwise detestable character."

Featuring production from Das Racist, Dash Speaks, and more, the 7-track I'm In the Forest has a whole lotta Lakutis, plus guest spots from Heems, Kool A.D., and a song entitled "Ja Rule." So those are things that are good. Out in conjunction with Heems' in-house label Greedhead, this is the opening salvo in the DR + associates rap takeover. So you should probably download it here.

Don Jones

$15

Tickets Available at the Door

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LE1F with Antwon, Lakutis, Don Jones

Wednesday, September 25 · 7:00 PM at U Street Music Hall

Tickets Available at the Door