Mom warning: Audio and video have language, nudity and themes that may not be appropriate for everyone.
Mom: I was curious to listen to Acrylic because I enjoyed Leikeli47’s live show at South by Southwest. After lots of indie rock, indie pop, and indie folk, it was fun to go to a raucous hip hop show. It was kind of a palate cleanser, as my friend Rachel said. While I didn’t enjoy Acrylic as much as that show, I found it to be a pretty good album, with the Brooklyn rapper’s lyrics and themes are a lot more interesting to me than anything Cardi B or Nicki Minaj is doing.
Leikeli47’s songs are about black communities, and especially the role of black women in those communities. Acrylic refers to nail salons, important to the rapper as a gathering place and safe haven for black women. She tackles issues like racist police officers, gun violence, poverty, and other issues affecting the black community. She even alludes to the water situation in Flint, Michigan, rapping “We don’t need to be shot up to be filled with lead.” But the album doesn’t just deal with big issues. The rapper has said she wants to invite listeners into her world, and the songs also include her love of fashion and specifics of the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood where she grew up and still lives. Leikeli47 is very private; she performs in a mask, because she wants audiences to focus on her music. But this album feels quite personal and revealing about things important to the rapper.
I often complain about how repetitive contemporary rap is, but in the case of Leikeli47, I think sometimes the repeating words add to the catchiness, as on one of my favorites on the album, “Girl Blunt.” Another favorite is “Tic Boom,” a really fun, propulsive song. Leikeli47’s flow reminds me at times of MIA, and at other times Missy Elliott, although she really doesn’t sound like either rapper. The absolute best song on Acrylic is “Roll Call,” a tribute to historically black colleges and universities, in which Leikeli47 cites famous HBCU graduates, as diverse as Erykah Badu, Thurgood Marshall, and Taraji P. Henson.
While there’s lots to enjoy on Acrylic, it’s also pretty uneven. There are certainly some throwaway songs, like “Post That,” a song about looking good on Instagram. Other songs really are too repetitive. I find the use of skits and interludes on hip-hop albums really annoying. If I didn’t like them on truly classic albums, like Outkast’s Stankonia, they’re really going to annoy me on a merely ok album like Acrylic.
Millennial: I remember the performance from SXSW, mainly because I was excited that I recognized one of her songs, “Look,” which is really a bop! She had everyone in this tiny building pumped and jumping, which is how I would describe the feel of Acrylic, actually. It took me a couple of times to listen to the album to get into it, but overall, I think it’s a fun album. I have a deep love for Cardi B, but I would agree that Leikeli47’s content and message is better than what has been coming out from Cardi B recently.
My favorites are similar to yours, since “Tic Boom” and “Roll Call” are up there, but I also really enjoy her songs that show her skill with singing outside of rapping. “CIAA” is a heavy and somber song with a mellow and somber jazz beat. The first line sets the whole tone of the piece, “The guns go bang bang/My neighborhood gangbangs/These kids with no name/Seen their families slain, yeah/Guns and cocaine.” She raps and sings about issues and experiences that I will never know and never fully understand, which makes me happy that, even though she keeps her privacy, she still talks about these personal issues in her music.
And while I really like most of her songs, some songs just don’t compare to the jewels. I love the fun beats on these songs, but the content of “Post That” and “No Reload” just don’t reach the same level of creativity as the rest of the album. I also don’t understand the need for skits and interludes in ANY album, but they’re there, I guess. I liked the album in general, but I just don’t think it brought anything new or revolutionary in the hip-hop/rap department.
I would like to see her live again because hip-hop performers are so much better to watch than just listen to. I can remember how fun her performance sounded, but we weren’t really close enough to actually see her, so I didn’t feel the full effect of seeing her in her awesome mask! I hope she comes back to Austin soon so we can both go and watch her.
What Else We’re Listening To:
Mom: Mark Ronson is a freaking genius! He’s actually compelled me to seek out a song sung by Miley Cyrus. I kept hearing about the new Miley Cyrus song, “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart,” but had no desire to check it out until Jason Isbell, the best songwriter working today, tweeted about it being a Mark Ronson song. Ronson led me take Bruno Mars seriously and now he’s doing the same for Cyrus (even though the video is mostly focused on women’s butts, including Cyrus’s–I had to get a mom comment in here). The song is gorgeous, and Cyrus’s vocals have never been better. Her delivery reminds me of her godmother, Dolly Parton, which fits right in with the songs country elements. But at its heart, it’s a Mark Ronson song, meaning it’s catchy, but a little different from anything else out there right now.
Millennial: I really do have to give props to Ariana Grande, cause “thank u, next” is such a banger! She does something that Taylor Swift just can’t and that is not sounding like a whiny little girl when talking about her exes and how the media portrays them. Grande doesn’t drag anyone, doesn’t try to start feuds with her exes, and definitely doesn’t disrespect them as some artists’ post-breakup songs do. Her music video for the song is also great, bringing in amazing references to the best chick flicks such as “Mean Girls” and “Legally Blonde.” This is the perfect song for showing how Grande is moving past these relationships and moving on to taking care of herself instead. You go, girl!