INTERVIEW: Living the “Jet Life” an interview with JLR newest signee LE$
By Hajer Salem
Photo by J. Tovar
Le$, the one-time Boss Hogg Outlawz affiliate, and the latest signee to Jet Life Recordings, is a rapper. I won’t label him, as I found out during our interview he hates labels, he doesn’t want to be written off as a weed rapper, a backpack rapper, a “any type” of rapper, just Le$. I remember the first time I heard Le$’s music the production immediately caught my ear. It was as if someone had neatly packaged a jazz ensemble into a smooth beat and matched it with vocals that blended beautifully. It was something I wanted to immediately place in my car stereo and go find an empty highway to ride. Since 2009, Le$ has released a plethora of projects, his latest “Expansion Pack” a six-track EP, produced entirely by Houston DJ and Producer Mr. Rogers, is the perfect introductory installment to his new venture with JLR. I recently sat down with Le$ and below are all the things I discovered about the surprisingly soft-spoken, innately cool, and refreshingly humble rapper.
When did you start rapping, and why did you start?
My first ever attempt at rapping was in 2004, I was in college at the University of Houston, and it was just the thing to do. It’s funny because all of my friends and what seemed like everyone at school had a make-shift studio in their dorm room or apartment, everyone. It was like the cool thing to do, I guess. One night, I’m at a friend’s house, I had been smoking and drinking, was buzzed, and just thought “let me try this rap thing.” In school I always exceeded at writing, it was just something I was naturally good at, so I figured I may be able to rap too. My friend had one of those make-shift studios, so I decided to try it and see how it goes. I did try it, and it went better than any of us thought it would, better than I thought it would. I didn’t immediately start rapping after that, but you can say that is when the seed was planted. Moving forward, I would rap here and there, I made a mixtape, but nothing serious, I still had not fully committed to rapping. In 2009, I met Mr. Rogers, and that is when things changed. Rogers, took me on and helped me develop, I had done a mixtape prior to meeting him but the first mixtape we did together “Settle 4 Le$ Volume 1” really changed things for me. When Rogers put the tape out, the first day it hit the net, it got over 3 thousand downloads, that was mind blowing to me, of course that might not seem like much and it really isn’t but for me it was inspiring. Prior to that, I had one mixtape and it took me almost three years to pass out three thousand copies of that. It was very different becoming a rapper in the digital age, it has it’s positive and negatives, but very different. The reaction I got from “Settle for Le$ Volume 1” was very exciting for me. To be able to witness my fan base grow, to hear and see people’s reactions, it is one of the major reasons why I continued, my fans inspired me too.
Describe your style?
I am a fan of rap, I’m 28 years old and I’ve been a fan of rap for as long as I can remember. I’ve been fortunate enough to witness rap from its early beginnings, witness its progression and evolution and because of that, I believe that true rappers don’t mimic. They don’t have style, they just exist as they are. I have been labeled in the past, as a weed rapper or a backpack rapper but I personally hate labels. Why am I a backpack rapper? Because I am intelligent, Jay Z is intelligent is he a backpack rapper? Am I a weed rapper because I have a smooth flow or because I rap over melodic, chill beats. I rap about weed as much as most other rappers, so I just don’t get labels, don’t care for them much. So my style, when in reference to my rhymes is just me. Whatever I am, that is what my raps are, that is what my style is and that is hard to describe. But if I had to answer the question, I’m just cool, I rap about what I am, what I have and what I want.
Does Houston Influence you, your music?
Yes, absolutely, Houston and Texas has influenced and still influences the shit out of me. I am from New Orleans but I spent a significant time in Texas, in Houston. Some of my all time favorite rappers, UGK, are from Texas. I remember having swingers on my buick. Houston just has this vibe, it’s infectious.
You recently said a record deal? How did it feel, how does it still feel?
It feels really good; signing to a label and especially with JLR. This deal, and especially this deal was the best move for me, the most instinctive, it just fits. I had a couple of things offered to me, but this one was the most organic, after it was announced, everyone agreed, it was the best move for me. Curren$y is a brother to me, so signing to JLR was overall the most natural thing I could do.
What can we look forward to from you?
Besides Expansion Pack, which is currently out, I’m working on a project “Old English” that I am very excited about. I feel like it will be the biggest release of my career thus far. It’s currently the project I’m most excited about because I’m excited about the features, which there will be some big ones on there, and I’m really excited about my personal musical progression. I feel like it’s the best music I’ve done.
I know you’re a taco fanatic, describe your ideal taco and if left on an island what three things would be absolutely necessary?
I like to keep it simple, so a chicken fajita taco, pico, and a little cheese, not to much because I’m lactose intolerant. If you can make a good chicken fajita taco, that is a good sign, your other tacos are probably good too. On an island, I would need weed, papers and a lighter, that is it.
Le$ will be in town supporting Curren$y at his show at warehouse live on April 20th, go enjoy the aroma and experience the “Jet Life” lifestyle.
by Hajer Salem