Billboard's R&B/Hip-Hop Rookie of the Month for April: Coi Leray

Coi Leray
Brian Ziff

Coi Leray

Coi Leray is onto better things. 

The 23-year-old Jersey native, once largely known for her cult following on social media -- amounting to over five million across platforms -- is now being globally recognized for a new accomplishment: spending eight consecutive weeks as a breakout artist on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“No More Parties” featuring Lil Durk, began as a 20-second TikTok clip posted during a studio session. Soon after, the video spread like wildfire, with eager fans begging for the full song. A few million views and one Durk feature later, the burgeoning rapper headed full-speed towards the charts. “I knew the video was gonna go viral,” Coi explained, “But I didn't know that the song was gonna turn into a hit.”  

The anti-social single peaked at No. 26 on the Hot 100, and ushered in Coi's latest Hot 100 debut, “Big Purr (Prrdd),” alongside Pooh Shiesty. Despite the infancy of her career, the multi-faceted performer has already collaborated with a plethora of fellow charting rappers, including Gunna, DDG and Yung Bleu. “A lot of people have been reaching out to me and saying they want to collab,” says Coi. “That's the big difference now -- I'm getting known for my music and not for just content or any little Instagram video.”

Eventually, the Republic Records signee (and amateur YouTube chef) says she plans to take over the world. "Either I become the hottest female artist in the world, or I go to college and go get my culinary degree," she says. " But I’m gonna get my culinary degree anyways."

Her personality, teetering between unapologetic confidence and subtle humility, is what she says attracts so many to her music. “Every day 100 people hit me up like ‘Yo girl, you make me feel so good about my body,’” she explains. “That right there tells me I'm doing my part.” 

Three years have passed since Coi’s first project, Everything Coz, and the breakout rapper has since softened and matured, both audibly and visibly -- something she is sure will shine through on her upcoming album. Slated for early May, the project will be packed with noteworthy features and fresh sounds for the artist. “Just wait until they hear this record with Nav,” she says, “That's grown and sexy Coi.”

Despite her bubbling music career, the boisterous MC still keeps it interesting on social media, where she talks her s--t, posts dance routine videos with friends and family and documents frequent twerk sessions proving that little booties do, indeed, matter. Below, she talks with Billboard about her breakthrough hit, her dream collaborators and her culinary ambitions. 

What was the inspiration behind “No More Parties”? 

I got invited to one of my industry friends’ parties. I didn’t want to go, because I didn’t have a gift, and I can’t pull up with flowers or a card because it’s going to make me look broke. I don’t want to go to parties if I can’t be genuine. Do not invite me to a birthday unless it says, “Gifts not mandatory.” I’m a people person, so I don’t mind parties, but it’s about being comfortable. 

How did the remix with Lil Durk come about?

I had already DMed him. I was like, “Yo, I want you on the song," and he said, "Yeah.” But I tweeted it to make sure. As soon as I tweeted, his mentions were going crazy. He was like, “Oh, man, I've got to do it now.” I definitely put the pressure on him, and he was actually a fan of the song. I got [his verse] back in like two days. It was fire. 

TikTok played a huge role in the success of both “No More Parties” and “Big Purr (Prrdd).” What sets the platform apart?

There's a lot of people on there that's not even signed and getting hit records out the water, independently. Everybody on TikTok is from different worlds, races, skin tones, everything. It allows people to be normal, compared to what celebrities showcase every day. That’s why I love it -- because there’s way more in this life than designer Birkin bags, [or] who got the richest f--king boyfriend.

Why do you think there's currently a huge surge in female rappers on the charts?

One thing that people love to see is two artists come together. Megan Thee Stallion, for example. She’s so successful, and probably one of the smartest female artists -- just because since day one, she's always supported other females. With the men, they just have so much pride and ego, and it stops a lot of good music and great collaborations. If they just came together how the girls came together, it would be super lit for them. 

You’re the latest female rapper to climb the Hot 100. With whom do you want to work? 

Rosalía, Megan Thee Stallion -- of course Rihanna and Beyoncé. I definitely want to collab with Chloe x Halle — I feel like they're the new generation. I want to collab with Tink. Nicki Minaj! Even if she says a sentence, I don’t even need her to rap. I just need a little game on the beginning of a track, and I'll take that. I love Nicki. 

What do you want your impact to be as an artist? 

To prove that as long as you stay true to yourself, you’ll have your way. People need to start loving and accepting themselves; they’ll see how far it takes them. It got my ass on Billboard, and it’s going to get me on top of the world. I want my fans to learn through me; I’m going to make mistakes. As long as my fans understand that, they’re going to rock out with me. 

You’ve got a cooking show on YouTube that fans seem to love. How did that come about?

I love cooking. On the East Coast, we be having Chinese food, all kinds of good food. [In California] I don’t eat as good as I would in Jersey, so I got to cook everything. My mom cooks, my dad used to cook back in the day. It’s just something that I love. 

Will we be seeing a Coi Leray restaurant anytime soon?

Oh, yeah, for sure. You’re definitely going to get the Coi Leray restaurant. 

Last year at this time, we were in the middle of a lockdown. How did that influence you?

I learned a lot about the world and put the time in to educate myself on a lot that I thought I’d never pay attention to. It really influenced me as a human being and one thing I am appreciative of is having the platform to be able to speak about things and bring them to people's attention. What I realized is as an artist, I want to continue [using] my platform to influence and motivate and teach all these other young cats that didn't really know like me.

Your music is rapidly taking off on the charts. How do you stay grounded?

I keep good people around me. I feel like if you surround yourself with good people, that goes a long way. I am a believer of God. Me and my mom will pray on the phone lots of times together. And I'm all about positivity. I'm trying to develop a lot of patience. I'll be 24 in May so I'm trying to just focus on my patience right now and just turn everything that's negative into a positive no matter what it is.