If you’re into hip-hop and haven’t yet heard the name Alicia Leafgreen, odds are you will before very much longer. Leafgreen has established a heavy rep in the industry—her first disc, the EP White Lesbian Rapper, was produced by Dr. Fink, who has worked with Prince, Vanity 6, and the Time. “Matt [Dr. Fink] is incredible,” she says. “We have so much musical chemistry between us. Together we could create any sound imaginable from any point in musical history.”
Dr. Fink says of Leafgreen, “She writes her raps straight from the most intimate parts of her soul and reveals her thoughts with unashamed bravado. She doesn’t pull any punches and tells it like it is.” The two are hard at work on Leafgreen’s first full-length album, which is as of yet unnamed and doesn’t have a release date. On February 2 at 9:00 p.m., Leafgreen is at the Triple Rock with Yo! Majesty and Natalie Stewart (of Floetry).
You’re a white female in a genre that started out almost exclusively black and male and still is predominantly so. Any reflections on that?
I have always succeeded and worked in male-dominated professions, so it’s really nothing new to me. To succeed in the male-dominated hip-hop world, you have to be so much better at what you do that there is no denying your talent. On the mic I can viciously compete [with], if not blow away, my male counterparts.
If not simply for shock value, why call your EP White Lesbian Rapper?
I was very weary of artists claiming to be something they are not, so I opted for the all-out honest approach. When [you put] a CD like that out there, it sticks with people. Where the title is concerned, no one is going to come up to me and say I’m not being real. People respect realness and honesty in hip-hop. I do not want people to feel deceived about what sort of music they are buying. One day I hope people will hold me in high regards with acts like N.W.A. and 2 Live Crew. People never thought that their music would be commercial or would make the impact that it did. Those acts had to fight and make a stand for their expression. I’m making the same stand.
You have a verse that goes, “There’s a new reign and it’s gonna be purple / Coming straight out of the Twin Cities this white Urkel / Loving Laura’s tits… / Making niggas’ nuts purple / Coming straight up ya ass like a gribble.” What’s that all about?
I didn’t want to put the “n word” in my song “WLR” at all. What inspired me to do so was Tupac’s documentary The Resurrection, which I have watched about 20 times. In the interview with Tabitha Soren he talks about when he went to jail and someone said “There goes the rich nigger” and he was freaked out by it and made the distinction that “niggas are up in the club with gold ropes and niggers are the ones hanging from ropes.” I wanted to draw attention to a few things: the distinction between the two and how frequently [the word] is used in hip-hop, but when a little white lesbian rapper uses that word it becomes [an] issue. “What did she say? Did she really say that?” This is who I am, coming up male-dominated hip-hop world, fighting my way to the top, and I’m not going to stop. But I’m also not using that word in a song ever again either.
You know there are going to be black listeners who don’t care for you throwing that word around. Maybe some white listeners too. That matter to you?
I had people having a huge issue with the word, and people were putting pressure on me to change it before the record came out. I opted to stay true to my original vision and not bow down to others’ perceptions of what I should be saying in my music. The word, though I don’t even like to hear it in my own music—and [it’s] omitted in live shows—has played an important part in laying the foundation for my future works, songs like “Stereotype Writer” from my upcoming album. I talk about sexism, racism, and stereotypes—everyone has some sort of stereotype associated with them, all races, sexes, and classes. Someone once asked me why I’d put up a wall like that with the album title or by using the “n word.” I said, “Sometimes you have to put up walls in order to knock them down.” It’s all part of a much bigger plan and message for peace and equality. I have lot of African-American fans and I love them all. I’m fighting for equality in my music for everyone. Because in hip-hop, right now, I’m not exactly equal myself. Big ups to Nas this last year with his record—white folks buying that record is equality and progression in itself. I’m also a big fan and supporter of the work Afrika Bambaataa has done with Zulu Nation. Peace through music is inspiring to me. It makes me wish I had lived in New York around that time.
Exactly how do your lyrics, as your press kit states, “inform and educate,” and what “moral lessons” do they teach?
The White Lesbian Rapper EP is me making my entrance into the game. My track “A.D.I.D.A.S.” is an anthem one might think is about shoes but by the end of the song I work in messages of peace, unity, and inspiration to the youth. This track also serves as a reminder to hip-hop to be responsible because [rappers] are role models for children and future generations. The lyrics at the end say, “Little kids look up to us and wanna be us / they turn their necks side to side just to see us / like daddy daddy daddy daddy don’t defeat us / colors of the world B.S. you can’t feed us / yeah cuz we red green white / purple, yellow, green like a stop light blue, red, orange and the colors of the world go on and on yeah.” That’s just the start of the messages of peace, unity and equality. I’m basically shouting out to the youth and every race of folks out there not to be fooled or corrupted by some of the hip-hop they are hearing and to keep their heads up. Also that people of every race are survivors and no matter what we will carry on because we are strong. Other messages of peace and equality can be heard in some of my newer works such as “Stereotype Writer” and “Get Busy Now” on my MySpace.
How’s that full-blown album coming?
To create a good buzz in the streets for the upcoming LP, my mixtape called T.C.’s #1 Mixtape will be released in the spring. I’m around half done with my full-length album, though there is still a lot of work in general that needs to be done before it is released. I’m keeping the title a secret because it’s really really good. It has nothing to do with being a white lesbian rapper.
Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.