Léo, a 21-year-old independent artist from Metz, released his first rap single last July. The track, entitled “COBRA”, tackles the issue of homosexuality in French rap and denounces the LGBTphobic harassment the young content creator has experienced. Léo told us about his relationship with rap, his role models, and his artistic identity.
When and how did you start making music?
I started making music at the age of 9, when I posted my first cover on YouTube. I’ve always wanted to share my passion publicly on the Internet. When I was 12, I started singing lessons and concerts, and I immediately liked it. I then did choir for 3 years, and in 2020, during lockdown, I decided to release my first single “Réseaux”. And today I’m back with my new track “COBRA”, which is my 7th single.
Did you have any role models growing up?
I grew up listening to artists like Diam’s, Miley Cyrus, and even Tal. I was really inspired by artists who convey a strong message through their songs. Messages about society, benevolence and, above all, tolerance. This also helped me to assert myself and become the person I am today.
Why did you decide to start rapping?
I decided to get into rap on a whim. I watched the first season of Nouvelle École, and at the end of the last episode I challenged myself to do a freestyle in an hour. That’s how I made the single “COBRA”, and I’m really proud of it.
At first, it was just an idea between me and myself, but when I listened to it again, I said to myself “there’s something there“. And when I posted an extract on my social networks, people were shocked and they flooded me with messages to encourage me to release it.
What inspired your single “Cobra”?
It’s a song in which I talk about the place of homosexuality in rap, and more specifically in French rap. The subject is ultra-taboo subject and very unpopular in the industry. Most rappers even use homosexuality as an insult in their songs. I simply said to myself “why not me? Just because I like boys doesn’t mean I can’t be as good as your rappers“. So I went for it.
Lil Nas X has inspired me a lot over the last few years, and I really like the fact that he mixes the”gang rap” side with a “more feminine” side. It’s an aesthetic that I find particularly interesting and that I really enjoy.
How and with whom did you work on this project?
I worked with several people on this project. First of all, with beatmakers for the production, the photographer Hugot Michael who shot the cover and the visuals for the single, the graphic designer Ovthex and the director Victor for my video.
As for the recording and composition, I did it all myself. I like things to be spontaneous and to come from me.
What feedback did you get from your community and the public?
People were very surprised when the track was released. I got thousands of feedback, especially on TikTok. People were amazed at the way I brought it out in the video. I rap, but at the same time you see me wearing make-up and ultra-sexy outfits.
And it’s really this “double-personality”, which is part of my daily life, that I wanted to emphasize. I’ve had nothing but good feedback, a few haters as with every release, but very few.
How would you describe your music and your artistic identity?
I think my music speaks for itself. I talk about everyday life and social issues that most people can relate to. I talk a lot about love, men, my background and the harassment I’ve experienced since I was a child, and I show that all this has enabled me to assert myself today.
So today, I thank my haters, because even though they made me suffer a lot during my childhood, they enabled me to never give up and always fight to achieve my goals.
Rap is often seen as homophobic. What do you think about this?
In my song “COBRA”, I say: “I understand it’s scary to hear a faggot on a trap track, Léo Music and I’m going to get you all“, that’s what I think!
In reality, I find it deeply sad and damaging to refuse to listen to someone’s artistic proposals simply because of their sexual orientation. Let’s enjoy our lives, we only have one, and learn to open up to more cultures and personalities.
Which rappers do you listen to these days?
I listen a lot to Lil Nas X, who for me is one of the most talented people on this Earth.
I’m also a big fan of Shay, bad bitch but gang, I can see a lot of myself in her.
And I listen to a lot of rappers like Tiakola, Niska and SDM, who I find very talented and interesting.
Do you make your living from music? If not, is this a long-term goal?
I’m not making a living from music yet, it provides me with a not small additional income, but in the future I hope to be able to make a living from it and be a full-time artist. That would be my life’s goal and my childhood dream.
What are your upcoming projects?
I’m currently working on my first EP, which will consist of 6 or 7 tracks. It’s going to be a very artistic and aesthetic project, with a very special theme and the music is going to get a lot of people talking. I can’t wait to share it with you!
What can we wish you?
A great career in music, a great community of fans, and lots of concerts. The stage is really the place where I feel most fulfilled.
Thank you for the interview, and thank you for your great media, which puts the spotlight on LGBT personalities and women in hip hop. What you’re doing is amazing!