Masked New York rapper Leikeli47 brought a few surprises to her NPR Tiny Desk Concert, transforming her usual electro sound into something else entirely. While her set whisked through established favorites like “Attitude,” “Girl Blunt,” and “Money,” the addition of a live band allowed her to put some intriguing twists into the familiar beats of those songs, creating a jazzier atmosphere that somehow complemented her style even more than usual.
With her band dressed as TSA agents (“the TSA Band, taking flight with me”), they kept time on guitar, bass, and drums, as well as an upright piano, which might seem out of place to fans who best know LK47 for her drag ball-ready electro-dance backgrounds. They actually do play the percussion heavy, skittery beats, but with jazz embellishments, like the addition of the swing section of Soho’s “Hot Music” to the bridge on “Attitude.” It’s a smart switch-up that helps ground Leikeli’s sound in the more familiar jazz-centric grooves of her hip-hop roots.
With a new album full of hits in Acrylic a growing number of soundtrack placements and a rising profile through live performances like Tiny Desk, Leikeli47 is on an upward trajectory toward superstardom. She’s on her way to being one of the biggest faces in hip-hop — even though no one’s ever actually seen her face.