Berlin-based rap princess Layla Boe: “I am limitless”
Layla Boe is here and she’s ready for you with her newest single release, Hustla. The angelic singer slash rapper slash sparkle-in-your-eye is an empowered, self-described “moody/spiritual” music artist from Berlin, Germany who isn’t afraid in the least to confront you with her sultry, glittering nuances. The different aspects of Layla are what make her such an interesting figure; rather than caging herself in a genre-box, Layla is committed to honouring herself and all of her contrasting sides before ever allowing herself to be restricted to the most popular idea of who she should be, what she should be sounding like, or what she should be saying. She began singing soulful R&B slow jams to/for herself, and then moved into exploring rap, an intriguing world of explicitness, boldness, and moodiness. Energetic and eye-catching, Layla’s trendiness is matched with an ancient soul; she understands the inner magic of women and advocates for that magic through her own action, and through her expression, which never strays from the truth. Layla performed her first single, Choppa, in an ABOVE GROUND session that is subtle, suave, and so alluring.
Hustla, Layla’s next music video, deliberately goes live on March 8th—International Women’s Day—to remind women that they are “just as much hustlers as men are, and in every situation.”
We got to chat a little bit with Layla about how love and anger fuel her creative expression, the source of her artistic influence, and the German rap scene.
Using the best three words you can think of, tell us: Who is Layla Boe?
I am an artist. Very honest. A professional overthinker.
Your personal style is super eccentric and fun. Naturally, we’re all wondering: What are you wearing right now?
Right now, I’m wearing my robe as I’m sitting in the kitchen sipping my ginger tea.
First of all, let’s congratulate you on the release of your new single, “Choppa.” How does it feel having an official single out? Relieving? Exciting?
Thank you. Yes, it feels very relieving and exciting. I’m also quite proud of myself, because it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I released it on my own without a label and with everything that has happened ever since, I’d say the most dominant feeling is gratefulness. I did it on my own terms and I didn’t expect it to go so well. I’m grateful for all of the love and support I’ve been getting and of course, deeply appreciative of the people around me that are helping me.
What was the inspiration behind the sound?
Well, it’s a trappy rap song, which is funny when you consider how I started. Initially, I only made R&B and Soul music. I never used to rap but I always loved listening to rap music. I enjoyed the energy and also the direct and explicit approach you have in rap music. My personality is very diverse. I can be very moody and very outspoken, so rap became an outlet for me to express a big part of my personality. More over, it’s a fun way to channel my energies.
Let’s take a little walk down memory lane. When did your interest in rap start? What drew you towards rap over other types of creative expression?
I’d rather talk about why I chose music in general as my type of creative expression, since rap is not all I’m doing. Music just always spoke to me in a way that nothing else could. I would always be the person who knew the lyrics to every song and I can barely think of a better feeling than listening and/or singing along to a song that resonates with me. So if I can do that for others and, of course, also do it for myself—I can’t think of anything better. The way music can connect people from different races, languages or religions fascinates me and gives me incredible joy. Music in my opinion is therapy that we all need. And I’m blessed to be able to be both; therapist and patient, if that makes sense. Taking my single CHOPPA as an example, which is not even a super deep or conscious rap song but very simple, straightforward and also a lot of flexing, I’ve had so many young girls writing me about how it gave them confidence and made them feel good about themselves, which is so gratifying and one of many reasons I’m doing this.
Who are your favorite current rappers? Do you have any modern inspirations?
Well, if we go from my Spotify review of 2019 it’s Tyler the Creator. He was my most listened-to artist, also because of IGOR. I love that he is freely expressing himself in his music as well as his personality and is not conforming to society’s rules. That inspires me a lot and also gives me confidence to do so. J Cole is also one of my favorite artists, music and personality wise. His music has helped me a lot in my life. Of course, Kendrick as well. Major female rap inspirations to me at the moment are Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Junglepussy, and Bbymutha. It is so satisfying to me to see all of these strong females being fearless and unapologetic. Taking on topics like sex for example and being very explicit in their language, not shying away or holding anything back is super important to do for us females. If we look at German rappers, my favorite rapper is OG Keemo. He is so good with words and rhymes and also has a lot of depth. He was my second most listened-to artist in 2019 and I only knew of him since beginning of 2019 (Lmao). Other than that, definitely Luciano. His energy is crazy.
How do you think the German rap scene may differ from, for example, the London scene, or even the scene in New York? What sort of influences are you able to bring in from your surroundings?
It’s funny because even though I was born and raised here, I’m not really influenced by German music. I never used to listen to a lot of German music or rap. It only really started within the last two years. And now it’s becoming more, because the German music market is changing. Many of the German artists that I like are considered “underground” or “new wave.” Compared to the UK and the US, I feel like a bunch of the big German artists tend to copy a lot and by copying, I don’t mean taking inspiration or honoring other cultures, I mean bluntly copying. Sadly, it’s often in a…I’d almost say disrespectful…way. But I don’t want to get too political. I am often missing the authenticity here, which is an even greater motivation for me to bring that in. I’m seeing some change which I’m grateful for and wanna be a part of it, because we do have a lot of talented, innovative and amazing artists out here, which deserve a bigger platform.
Which emotions or experiences do you think act as the biggest driving forces for you when you’re creating music?
Love and anger. Emotions in general. I’m super emotional and they also change a lot haha, which you can hear in my music.
If genres didn’t exist, how would you describe your sound?
They don’t REALLY exist to me. I do what I like. If anything—moody, like me!
Are you working on any full-length projects at the moment? What can your fans expect from you in the future?
You can expect good music in general and also English stuff. Thats all I’m saying. 🙂
In your opinion, what does it mean to be non-basic?
To me, it simply means being and expressing your truest self. Everyone is so unique, you can never be basic by being you.
And finally, what’s the mood for 2020?
I am limitless.
Thank you Layla!
Photographer: Paula Otten
Styling: Don Gaspár
Make-Up: Doreen Assmann
Artist: Layla Boe
Interview: Dominique Mkhonza