The New York rapper and producer Le1f – who with the release of standout 2012 Internet single “Wut” became one of the most visible members of hip-hop’s queer, left wing – has signed a multiple-album recording agreement with Terrible Records as a part of its joint venture deal with XL Recordings (Adele, Vampire Weekend).
Terrible/XL will release a new 5-song EP from Le1f titled “Hey” digitally on March 11. A vinyl version of “Hey” will follow May 6. Listen to the first song from the EP, the “A Milli” reminiscent “Boom,” below.
“I’ve dreamed of recording for XL since I was like 15 and I’m super excited to be working with all of my Terrible labelmates,” says Le1f, born Khalif Diouf, in an interview with Billboard. “I’ll be doing the same stuff that I’ve been doing but on another level. It’s an interesting challenge and I like that.”
Le1f met Terrible Records co-founder Ethan Silverman, who runs the label with partner Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, in 2012 at a party in New York. The two were introduced by Himanshu Suri of the now-defunct rap duo Das Racist, who released Le1f’s critically acclaimed first two mixtapes “Dark York” and “Fly Zone” via his own independent label Greedhead.
Save for a remix of Solange Knowles’ single “Looks Good With Trouble” featuring Kendrick Lamar last year, “Hey” will be Terrible’s first hip-hop release. Other artists who have worked with the five-year-old label, in addition to Knowles, include Twin Shadow, Caroline Polachek of Chairlift and Kirin J. Callinan, who was the first artist signed under the partnership with XL.
“Hip-hop is probably the genre that I personally listen to the most, if I’m being honest,” says Silverman. “It’s always been something that I was passionate about and this felt appropriate. Le1f fits perfectly into the Terrible spectrum of personalities.”
“Hey” features production by Le1f collaborators Boody, Harry B, Owwwls and Matrixxman, who produced “Wut.” (A re-recorded version of that song appears on the tracklist). The EP will be followed by a full-length album tentatively scheduled for later this year. Although it’s still in the early stages, Le1f says influences for the project include the work of M.I.A. and Dizzee Rascal.
“I’ve been trying to make songs for that record that are really personal and honest and deal with serious issues in an accessible way,” he says. “Not political, but sociopolitical.”
Check out the tracklist to “Hey” below: