Atlanta, GA – “I don’t think I’ve made it till Beyoncé can scoot over,” Quality Control Music’s latest signee Lakeyah Danaee admits. The statement is strong, the kind that might raise any Beyhive members’ eyebrows, but the Milwaukee native isn’t trying to throw shade —“I’d love to collaborate with every artist out there,” the 19-year-old enthusiastically says, expressing full respect and adoration for those that came before her in the game, “and I love Nicki Minaj. She really got bars and metaphors.”
HipHopDX spoke to the ambitious singer/rapper right before the drop of her major label debut single, “Big FlexHER” featuring 42 Dugg, to learn more about the budding young star and discuss being relatable, the importance of having your own bars,and more.
Taking it back to her upbringing, Lakeyah explains she’s always been an avid reader and skilled with words, as she recalls, “I read books all the time. I was in AP (Advanced Placement) Literature class. And I’ve been rapping since I was 15. I was in a rap group called BTM before I became a solo artist. I was shy growing up, glasses and braces. Naturally I’m very put away, reserved, but even in class, like at the lunch rooms and stuff, I was just rapping, making music.
“After I graduated high school, the plan was for my mom to support my move to Atlanta. So I told her, ‘I’m going to go to college,’ and I went to the Arts Institute for about a month, and I’m not promoting this or anything, but I dropped out. Then I just focused on consistently putting out music.”
Lakeyah’s story isn’t unlike many new artists in today’s age: bearing testament to the power of social media and the power of manifestation. It was on Instagram that Quality Control’s CEO Pierre “Pee” Thomas, first took notice of the young artist when when she dropped her version of the “First Day Out” freestyle challenge (a viral moment last October after City Girls’ JT was released from jail), and her fans flooded the comments tagging him.
He reposted it, helping the Atlanta-transplant gain traction and attention from verified accounts, or “blue checks,” as she calls them. Pee kept his eye on her until months later, this past July, he sent her a life-changing DM.
“I got up really early, which is rare for me, right as Pee DM-ed me,” Lakeyah continues. “I tell my girlfriend like, ‘Pee is DM-ing me,’ and she like, ‘You’re lying,’ because I always be playing like that. I’ve been playing like that since January. Just manifesting. I’m big on that [manifesting], because seems like everything I’ve been saying have been coming true.
“He asked me if I’m signed, and asked for my number. I gave him my number really fast and I told him no. And he called me and asked me to send him some music. So I sent him some songs and not even two minutes later, he called me back like, ‘I want to sign you.’”
The songs Lakeyah had forwarded came off her streaming debut mixtape, Keymix II, which dropped at the beginning of 2020. Early fans might have noticed the project was heavy on the R&B love songs, as were her 2019 singles. It’s almost as though Lakeyah initially set out to be a singer — not a rapper.
However, Lakeyah insists she intends to flourish in both lanes, instead of sticking to one genre, “I like to switch it up. My previous manager tried to make me stick to R&B, and I didn’t want to do that. I want to show all my talents, singing and rapping,” She also spoke of Pee’s support, saying, “Pee told me never to put myself in a box, and that’s just how I am. I like to both sing and rap.
“He really likes that I’m versatile, and that I’m not going to ever really need a singer as a feature for R&B tracks. We’re dropping the rap as the first single, but I’ll be doing both.”