Pride

'Drag Race' Queen LaLa Ri on the Music That Inspires Her, From Gospel to Cardi B

Lala Ri
Courtesy of VH1

Lala Ri

From the moment she entered the workroom on season 13 of RuPaul's Drag Race, LaLa Ri made it clear that she was there to give you "The LaLa Ri Experience." To this day, she still has to remind herself that she accomplished her goal. "I still have moments where I can't believe I actually filmed Drag Race," she tells Billboard. "Like, I'm actually on Drag Race, and people are seeing it!"

On the latest episode of the show, LaLa Ri's experience was sadly cut short — after failing to impress the judges during the "Bossy Rossy: After Dark" improv challenge, LaLa found herself in the bottom alongside Elliott with 2 T's. In one of the season's fiercest lip syncs yet, the two queens duked it out to Kelly Clarkson's "Whole Lotta Woman" — it was a close battle, but Elliott was ultimately saved, leaving LaLa to sashay away.

During her time on the show, LaLa proved to be a fabulous lip sync artist — she won her first lip sync against fan-favorite Denali in episode 1 and sent Joey Jay home in episode 5 thanks to her top-tier skills. "I rehearse a lot," she says with a giggle. "I'm very Beyoncé when it comes to my performances — yes, I am a Virgo as well — so everything has to be perfect."

When it comes to lip syncing, LaLa says that while high-kicks, splits, dips and tricks are all fun to watch, they are not the key to pulling off an entertaining lip sync performance. "It's all about the way you connect with the entire song," she says. "It's good to know the words, that's great, but I want to see you bring that song to life. Make me feel like you're actually singing the song — make me think this is your song, and you made it."

There were a lot of great moments that LaLa had during season 13, but there was one that shook the fanbase to its core. In episode 5, "The Bag Ball," LaLa wore a garment that even she has since deemed "the worst look of #DragRace herstory" — a corset with small pink and blue gift bags glued haphazardly on top, with a fuzzy pink purse posing as a wig on her head.

LaLa says she found the fan reaction to her garment "hilarious," and even said she was excited to watch the now-infamous episode. "Oh, it was hysterical watching myself in that outfit," she says. "I couldn't wait to see how it actually looked om the TV, to see the bags flying everywhere, then the lip sync — it was so funny to me."

As for the future, LaLa has plans — she recently released her debut single "Bad Bitch Tip" featuring Ocean Kelly, and says that she's not planning on slowing down any time soon. "I've worked on a whole bunch of content just this week alone to release over the next few weeks," she says. "Once the world really opens up again, I'm going to travel and give everybody the full LaLa Ri experience. So be ready."

Below, LaLa made a playlist of some of her favorite songs. Ranging from oldies like Lenny Williams to brand new hits by Cardi B, check out all of LaLa's picks below.

Beyoncé, "1+1" 

"Most of my favorite songs are by the Queen Bey, but this one is by far my absolute favorite. Every time I hear it I just want to fall in love with someone. I’ve only performed it once in drag, but that one time was so special. On top of all of that, I get a free math lesson!"

Dua Lipa, "Break My Heart" 

"My first time hearing this song was while filming Drag Race. It was the lip sync song for the top 2 on an episode. That was the one time I hoped to lip sync. LOL! It is such a feel good song, and it’s definitely one I would perform a lot at my shows!"

Yemi Alade, "Single & Searching (ft. Falz)"

"I am a huge fan of AfroPop/Afrobeat music, and this is one song you will hear me blasting in my car with all the windows down driving through the streets of Atlanta. At every red light, I just want to get out of the car and dance because the beat in this song attacks my spirit! Yemi makes some of the best music!"

Monique Heart, "Brown Cow Stunning" 

"Monique is one of my favorite Drag Race girls, and got vocals for days! Baby, when this song comes on you cannot tell me that I am not Brown Cow Stunning! I like how she turned a runway critique into a masterpiece. Pay attention girls!!!!!! LoL! This song is simply everything! I’m available to be on the remix sis!"

LaLa Ri, "Bad Bitch Tip (feat. Ocean Kelly)"

"From one Drag Race girl to another. This is actually my first song to be released and I just wanted make the people twerk in pure bliss! I listen to my own song a lot, hopefully that’s not conceited of me. LOL! Ocean Kelly is not only featured on the track, but he also produced and co-wrote it as well. He is one of the most talented human beings that I know!"

Ocean Kelly, "Comma$"

"Speaking of Ocean, I had to put one of my favorite songs by him. This song actually inspired 'Bad Bitch Tip.' I constantly have this song on repeat. His bars are so disrespectful in the best way possible! I love some Ocean Kelly!"

Shameia Crawford, "Choices"

"I discovered Shameia via social media singing a jingle about Amazon. I instantly fell in love with her, and immediately started to look for her music. This particular song is so contagious! Her vocal abilities are out of this world, and this song does a good job of showcasing that. Every time I play this song around a drag queen in Atlanta, they always steal it so they can perform it! I can’t have nothing to myself. LOL!"

Duranice Pace, "I’m a Soldier (Live)"

"Everyone knows that I am a good Christian woman. Remember my prayer on Drag Race? I listen to a ton of gospel music. It’s actually my favorite genre of music to play the most. It keeps me sane. Duranice was a gift to this world, and when you listen to this song you will understand why. This song is always uplifting for me. I have to put on my good shouting shoes when I play it!"

Cardi B, "Up"

"I may be a good Christian woman, but that hood girl inside of me clocks in from time to time. When she does, this is the first song you will hear playing nowadays! Everything about this song, including the music video is perfection. I’m currently on a flight right now playing this song, because it’s clearly the perfect time to listen to it."

Lenny Williams, "'Cause I Love You"

"I grew up on the oldies, and this is by far my favorite song of all time. My mother would always tell me the story of when I was a child, and how there was a neighbor who played this song every Saturday while doing laundry. I would always go sit by the window and just listen to them play it on repeat. To this day, I cannot get enough of this song. This right here is good timeless music!"

Check out LaLa's full elimination playlist on Spotify below: