Leaf is Rap's Very Own Feminist Icon
Leaf is the poster child for a feminist, kind-spirited, rep-your-own brand of rap that’s pretty much exactly what the doctor ordered. In a world that’s all but desperate for a healthy dose of ~woke~, Leaf is delivering. Fierce and authoritative about her role in the dynasty of female MCs, her new album, titled Trinity, is just further proof of what we already knew: this rapper is one to watch.
MILK.XYZ sat down with the soon-to-be legend to talk Fool’s Gold Records (the rapper recently signed on after she was discovered on Instagram), the evolution of her Mind Body Music movement, and dive deeper on the makings of Trinity; check the full chat below.
I was just at Fool’s Gold Day Off a couple weekends ago—you killed it!
Thank you, I really appreciate it. I was trying to make a performance that people will acknowledge because people are on seven different threads sometimes. I was trying to have that one show that was nothing like the rest of them.
Yeah, it seemed like everyone there was on some drug or another. [Laughs]
Yeah, that’s most festivals these days [Laughs]
So Trinity just dropped a week ago—how are you feeling now that it’s out?
I feel really great about it, I’ve been trying to put this out for two years now, so it’s been a long time coming. The reaction is exactly what I wanted, people have been giving me such good feedback on it, that it’s one of the albums of the year, so I’m really excited about it and glad that it’s out.
Did you say it’s been two years coming?
Yeah, two years.
What took you so long to finally put it out there?
I think it was more about growth for me. I wanted to put something out there that was nothing like what I’ve put out before. The writing process, as far as just living life, and the growing up process as well—I was 18 when I signed with Fool’s Gold, I’m now 22, it’s been about three years that I’ve been signed. I just felt like I was constantly changing it because I was constantly growing as a person. I wasn’t the same person any of those years, and it wasn’t until now that I felt like I had a body of work that described me as a woman.
What’s it like signing as a teenager to this huge label? You were so young.
I think that I wasn’t ready. I felt like I didn’t have all the experiences I needed to create the kind of work that I wanted to put out into the world and I felt like I had to experience a lot of those things to really form my mindset. I feel like people love me because I’m very strong about my feminist approach to things, and I felt like as a woman, I hadn’t experienced a lot of things that a woman needs to experience. I did a little growing up and some soul searching and I wrote some songs that didn’t just speak to me but songs I wanted to speak to women around the world.
Do you have a favorite track off the album or an anthem that describes you really well?
I would definitely say “Fuck With Me”, “Gimme Some”, and “Gone”. For sure.
Cool. What about some of the reactions you’ve been getting from people—is there any one you really connected with?
One song that I wasn’t expecting to get a good reaction from was “Weekend” and some people are saying one that’s going around on Spotify is “1133311”. People have been giving me really good reactions from that. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 14, 15, and I wanted to just give a little bit of that part of myself, since they didn’t really know that part of me yet. I’m really, really excited about the reaction to it because I was a little afraid of putting myself out there in that way, in such a vulnerable way. I’m excited to keep doing that for people.
How do you feel like you’ve changed as an artist and a woman since your debut EP?
When I was younger, I thought feminism meant that you didn’t need a man. Now, I know that feminism is wanting to be equal in your voice and your power as men. I don’t think it even means being equal to men in our entities because we are such different creators in this world, in such a different way than how men create. I feel like when I was 18, I was like fuck that, I don’t need a man, kindof talking down on men a little bit. Now, as a woman, I’ve realized by going through a lot more relationships and just experiencing conversations with men, interactions with me, and by becoming more confident in myself, I’ve realized that all people on this earth are necessary for divinity, for the balance of this earth. Women and men, ying and yang. As a woman, I am more emotional, and it’s okay to have these feelings, and you don’t have to be this tough woman all the time to be a feminist. You don’t have to be against men to be equal to men. I needed to experience more life to get to that mindset, and it’s only going to continue to change—my music and my voice, and the way I view this world.
There is a strength in being vulnerable like with certain tracks and in your sound. Not that men can’t have it too, but it is unique in many ways to the woman’s perspective.
I do think it’s missing right now. There’s this one perspective that’s like, “women don’t need men for shit,” or that being a feminist is being all crazy or whatever it is—I’m not against it, cause I love being crazy and exploring that part of myself as well. I totally understand where those women are coming from, but I wanted to give a little of the insight that I have. I’ve been growing a little these past few years and talking to women about how they feel, talking to more men about how they feel, and just trying to bridge the gap between both.
Can you talk a little about the Magnetic Bitch Movement and how that plays into the ideas you’ve been talking about?
Yeah, so MBM—which I’ve now changed to Mind Body Music…
Oh, okay cool [Laughs]
People can’t keep up, they’re like, “Is it Magnet Bitch Movement, is it Money Before Men?” [Laughs], all these things. I said Magnet Bitch Movement when I was 16, and then when I was 18, 19 I changed it to Money Before Men, and now that I’ve grown up even more, I want it to be Mind Body Music, because I feel like that encompasses me more than those other two phrases. Before, I was just trying to project this idea on people, and as soon as they hear it they understand, but I feel like it’s more about being a whole person that it is about standing for something. I definitely stand for feminism, but I think that every single woman on this earth does. We are born on this earth with a vagina—if you have a vagina, you are a feminist, I don’t care what anyone else says. Even if you don’t feel like you agree with what feminism stands for, every single person on this earth wants equal rights. I think that if you are a woman you are naturally born a feminist. I don’t need to assert that anymore now that I’ve come to that understanding. With Mind Body Music, it really is about empowering women and girls to be self-entrepreneurs, to run their own businesses, to fight for equality. It’s really simple. If you’re a woman and you love other woman and you want to help them grow, then it’s the movement for that.
I feel like now more than ever, it’s really necessary with everything going on.
So, now that the album’s out, what’s in the pipeline for the rest of the year?
I’m going on tour soon, no details yet because I can’t really speak about it yet. When I do have tour dates, I’ll let you know. I’m going on tour the end of this year, maybe one or two tours, working on some more videos for you guys, definitely some more merchandise, and a lot more campaigns coming really soon.
Stay tuned to Milk for more woke artists we love.