Leikeli47 might put on a masks, however she has a stronger sense of identification than many rappers who plaster their faces wherever they’ll discover area. She’s a toddler of hip-hop and ballroom tradition whose reference pool contains rap icons like JAY-Z and Lauryn Hill, and style icons like America’s Subsequent High Mannequin coach J. Alexander; she lets her music communicate for itself, however infuses it with simply sufficient biographical element to face out. As a Black girl residing in Brooklyn, Leikeli’s model of anonymity grants her music a private and communal confidence that extends throughout her three studio albums, all named after Black magnificence therapies: 2017’s Wash & Set, 2018’s Acrylic, and her newest mission, Form Up.
Structurally, Form Up isn’t far faraway from the rhythm of Acrylic. Each albums revolve round pulsing beats that owe as a lot to ballroom and techno as they do hip-hop, and each ultimately pivot to sultry ballads and love songs. The important thing distinction between the 2 is the dearth of a story throughline—in contrast to Acrylic, Form Up has no skits or world-building workout routines. Like several good sequel, the brand new album amplifies what labored earlier than, streamlining a longtime system with out tampering an excessive amount of. Leikeli’s braggadocio is barely bolder, the intimacy of her tales barely deeper. She opens the second verse of “Secret Service” with a raucous scene of her and a few associates bumping JAY-Z songs whereas driving a van alongside the Potomac River, and you may really feel the subwoofer rattling the chassis. Moments like these mark Form Up as one other peek behind her private curtain, but it surely’s additionally a fiercely entertaining rap album in its personal proper.
Leikeli’s versatility goes a great distance towards retaining her sound recent. In her default mode, she mixes plucky punchline raps and gimme-what’s-mine boasts informed with painterly element. On “New Cash,” she leads with a brutal shot at an ex (“My ex known as me attempting to speak once more/However I don’t negotiate with terrorists”) and describes the Nike socks scrunched up in her Jimmy Choos earlier than ending with a sweetly sung coda that remembers the opening melody of Beyoncé’s “Formation”: “I would like each single quarter, penny, nickel, and dime/You ain’t gotta mail my verify nigga; I’m outdoors.” “New Cash” collapses all of her abilities to dizzying impact, however they’re equally attention-grabbing once they manifest independently within the flows of the punchy autobiography that morphs into an action-packed stomp-out on “Zoom”; in particulars just like the “assalaamu alaykom” that precedes a whirlwind romance with a accomplice on “LL Cool J” (brief for “Girls Love Cool Jewellery”); within the zig-zagging supply of the ballroom scene she conjures on “Jay Stroll.” Leikeli’s phrases are transportive, her sense of place amplifying the hectic manufacturing.