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Questions that Matter: WholeLotta Leeko

Updated: Feb 27

Malika Sylla, born in Morocco, raised in Chicago first got in the entertainment industry with Vine gaining over hundred thousands of followers. Switching over to music, in 2018 she first dropped her first project Leaked. Soon after she released her next two projects Life is Long and Life is Lit in 2021 and 2023. I've had the pleasure to discuss with her in detail about her life and how her new project Life is Lit has shaped her.

So Leeko, you’ve been in the entertainment industry for a minute - starting with Vine. How has life changed for you since then?

I would say things have both sped up and slowed down. I’ve laid more ground work with establishing myself. I have gained experience and insight. I would say that life has sped up in a sense that there is more opportunity and I gained more knowledge. It's been a slow burn but it's been fast too. Sometimes I look up and see how much time has passed like 'Damn, it's been a minute'. It's also been fast pace because life has been happening and its not in slow motion it just keep going, going, and going.

What first got you into music?

Honestly I would say music is my first true love. Its the thing that I remember loving first in my life. Its a feeling I can’t explain, I’m just attracted and addicted to it. As a kid I loved Rap City, 106 & Park, like all the stuff where you can listen to music. My brother kinda introduced me to Lil Wayne and just rap music in general so it’s always been a real love of mine. Once I got around my teen years it became an outlet. I always wrote poetry and my 7th grade teacher Ms. Green would always have us doing poetry assignments and stuff like that to help exercise our minds and I loved it. I always was a writer but it transition into music when I got older. Me and my friends use to smoke weed and play beats in high school because that was just the fun thing to do, so sometimes we would say a raw bar and I started discovering it that way too. One of my good friends put me on as well. They worked at a studio in Chicago called Lacuna Lofts and they had told me about something going on where they were developing new artists. I ended up tapping into that and it really gave me the tools to cultivate as an artist. 

How did it feel to drop your first project Leaked?

It felt scary. Everybody knew me for jokes. People would always tell me I was their go-to for laughs especially when it came to the internet. I really loved that but I knew that I would have to try and get people to tune in on the music side. I knew that I loved Leaked, but I wanted everyone else to love it as well, so I was kind of nervous. A lot of thoughts crossed my mind so I wanted them to receive it well, I hope they enjoy it, and I did not want to get fried. So with my first project its like ‘ok here goes something new, this is a completely new style for me that I’m displaying for people’ and I think it was received pretty fucking well. To my surprise, some of those songs are still my most streamed songs so yeah, I would say when I first dropped my nerves were high.  

How do you feel your music has elevated since your first drop?

I think its elevated in every way. The flows, delivery, the bars, I think everything has gotten better. My skill set has advanced. I intentionally try to get better. Even with the things I say I catch myself like ‘thats weak as hell’ or ‘say something different’ and I don’t know if it comes across this way but I also say ‘naw I gotta say the rawest shit’ and ‘man this shit gotta be cooler’ you know? Cause I try to keep it cool, I’m a cool person, very chill and lax in my day to day so I want my lyrics to be as cool as me. In 2018, I was recording and very new to rap. It’s one thing to write a letter, then its another to write a letter to a beat, and its another thing to write a letter to a beat and its funny, witty, has similes and metaphors. Thats a whole different thing. So I would definitely say I have grown more intentional with trying to be better as an artist. Whether thats trying to find more peculiar beats or trying to not sound like anyone else. I want the beat to be as odd and deep as I am. In the past, I would let inspiration come to me and it was very slow motion. Now, I seek the inspiration more because I want to create more, more, and more and now that it is being consumed the way I want it to be, I want to be able to deliver more, more and more. So I think it’s gotten better in every way. 

Between Leaked, Life is Long, and Life is Lit, what is your favorite project and why? 

I would say Life is Lit is my favorite, no questions about it. It is everything that I think a project should be. It is vulnerable. It is confident. It is heavy hitting. It is different. It’s cohesive. Its intentional. I really put my best forward to make the very best sequel to Life is Long. I love the other projects very much as well. I love Leaked because it helped me get my feet wet and put myself out there. It was definitely some feel good songs on Leaked and you know it took me a long time to make the album cause I’m a perfectionist at my core so anything I’m doing I’m not playing around. I want everything to be polished, professional, and as amazing as possible because it's me, and I want my people to see my best work. Life is Lit was just a different time in my life, a lot of things had changed. My confidence was up so that was definitely the project for me. Plus the music on there is just the best. My very first project, in my opinion, sounds amateur and kind of nervous. Life is Long was my second project and although I had mad confidence on there, it still felt kind of early for me. Life is Lit I felt like it was me easing into it more and knowing and accepting that I am a rapper. I also feel like all the things that happened alongside of it like the ideas I had, and even some of the support I had from people like DJ Hustlenomics, it just made it all go in my favor like ‘this is the one’.

Explain to us your newest project - Life is Lit. What was the direction for this one?

Life is Lit was a natural segue from Life is Long. It was a reflection of what was happening at that time and I felt that it was no other way to describe it more than ‘its Lit’. I was just getting back to myself after a lot of changes in my life and my finances were good so I was just really doing what I wanted to do and finding my motion. Life is Lit is me just saying what it is. I’m lit. I feel lit. The inspiration behind this one came from a lot of places honestly. I was going through a lot of transformational things in my life and it made me reflect on everything. It was like I reprogrammed myself and started going over things like religion. I found myself stuck on the oldest religion, Hinduism which made me feel like ‘okay, since this is the oldest religion, they must got the sauce or speaking some real stuff’ so I was kind of delving into that and I truly indulged and learned a lot. For me, certain religions like Hinduism and Buddhism, those teachings were transformational to me, and the way they see life, it was really different from what I had grew up around. I had grew up around Christians and then my parents are Muslim so I always knew some of those teachings and now I’m learning things for myself and taking what I thought was beautiful from it and leaving whatever I thought wasn’t for me. It helped me just structue my own set of ideals. I designed my cover and tracklist with all that in mind. 

You recently reached 1 million views on your music video “All Kinda Things”, how did that feel?

It was a lot of emotions for me. It was happiness, for sure. I was elated, overjoyed, vengeful, it was so many things but above all, I was proud. I felt like I reached a milestone and all the effort I put into this music shit was worth it. To see it be received so largely in such a quick time while also considering that I just came off a two year hiatus from my last projects, this hit different because I was going over my head thinking ‘I hope this hit 10k or even 50k’ so once it started going over the top I was really like ‘well damn’. Not only was all of my years in music worth it, but also, this is gratitude. My ideas worked and that gave me a better sense of self, and trusting my own ideas more because they are good and can work for what I need them to work for. 

Who are your biggest music inspirations?

Ye, is first of course. His fearlessness. He’s unorthodox. He just goes crazy and I love everything about it. Chief Keef is another one. I think Keef just has this power over people and his music cool. I feel like Keef doesn’t have to try too hard when it comes to music and I like how hard it make the world shake. I love Nicki Minaj because of just how much she has overcame as a woman in this field. Seeing how the music industry goes now, I respect her way more because it's not easy. Outside of that, Nicki is a flow master and when I look at how many years she’s been in the game and how many flows she's done, it's incredible to witness. I also really enjoy Lil Wayne. Wayne is just a raw ass rapper, always have, and always will be. I think Wayne says stuff that's unpredictable and maybe it's some stuff he shouldn't have said , but I think that's what him, Nicki, and Kanye all have in common, and it's also what makes rap good to me. 

What’s your favorite song on this album and why?

I probably played Made in Morocco the most so I’m going to go with that one. Its melodic, its flowy, and deep. The song is a good vulnerable piece and I like the picture it paints. I also love True Story. When I wrote that one I was just thinking about the happiest things and just how Chicago was back in the day. Even though I feel like its a dark cloud over the city, I just wanted to remind people that Chicago was beautiful back in the day, so don’t forget. 

Outside of music, you also have your own food business called Onions Garlic and Leeks. What inspired you to get into that and do you see yourself expanding on it?

I’ve always loved cooking shows and food. When I started moving into adulthood, I needed to learn how to cook cause the food outside was either nasty or too expensive. My mom would have me help her and eventually just started cooking for myself more consistently. I’ve made good stuff and also bad food at times but in the end my flavors started coming together and I started gaining more knowledge. Onion, Garlic, and Leeks just came from me wanting to brand myself and my business. I plan to expand because I truly love it. I love the community aspect of it as well cause it does bring people together oftentimes. Whenever its an event going on, majority of the time people asking ‘who made the food?’ so I love the hold it has on people. I want to build it up but when the time is right. 

What else can we expect from you this year?

More memorable music. I will be releasing more visuals and just everything better content wise. I enjoy my solitude, but I’m ready to put myself out there again.

If you had to leave everybody with one quote from you, what would it be?

Die real, die rich. Don’t go out like no bitch. 

Be sure check out her latest video - BLK Friday and stay up to dat with her via IG @wholelottaleeko and X @wholelottaleek

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