Intersect spoke to up-and-coming (Bed Stuy) Brooklyn rapper Lola Brooke about her advice to women in music, her full-circle moments, and her upcoming projects. Watch our interview with Brooke or read below.
How did being from Brooklyn shape you into who you are today and as an artist?
I grew up in a single-parent home, so I didn't really have much company at home. I would go outside and mingle with friends, and share experiences with other people. As an artist: Whatever I see, I speak on it.
Who did you look up to growing up?
Lil Wayne, 50 Cent — and I love RuPaul. This is my first time even telling people that; I love RuPaul.
At what age did you realize you wanted to make music? And at what age did that become a serious ambition?
Around seven or eight, I knew I wanted to become an artist when I was older. I started taking it seriously in 2017 — so I just started taking it seriously — but I've been recording since MySpace days. Back then, it was just for fun, or like a hobby.
How did it feel when it switched from hobby to job? Was it a lot of pressure?
It wasn't so much pressure in giving more attention to my career, but finding the time to do it. I had to leave my job because I used to be in the studio thinking about the time too much; I couldn't get creative thinking about being late for work. I would be in the studio until five in the morning sometimes — and would have to go home, get in the shower, and go right back to work. And I couldn't work like that, I couldn't find who I was as an artist, so I had to resign.
That was the biggest pressure: allowing myself to have that type of space to create.
What was the first piece you put out there that you think reflected yourself as an artist?
When I did "2017 Flow," I was saying to myself, 'This is who I am. This is how I'm coming.' And then people took it and ran with it, so I was excited about that. I said to myself, 'I think this is it. Like, this is the world telling you that this is your career, it's what you should be doing.'
Did you have any other full-circle moments?
I had performed at PlayStation Theater and I thought I couldn't get through it. I was panicking; I had butterflies. And when I got on the stage, I just blacked out.
But actually, my first performance [that was a full-circle moment] was SOBs. I had a performance by myself, and before then I had only performed with my other teammates — because I'm in Team80 — and we all used to perform together. This time it was just me.
I was just nervous, and Uncle Mane was there — he was there performing, or he was there to support me — and he looked at me and said, 'You scared?' And I said, 'Yeah.' He told me I was bugging and to go up there and do my thing. So I went up there, and I just blacked out – every time I go on stage, I just blackout, so I know it's my safe zone.
How is it being a female in the industry? What pride do you take in that?
However I'm feeling is how I'm feeling, and I let it be known. The reason I'm in the music of business is to express my feelings. The pride I have? Out the window. Competing with other female artists isn't my thing — I'm a very humble artist, until somebody says my name, female or male.
But it's really tough being a female in the game. I know a lot of women have pride and they're scared of trying to figure out how to show their craft — but that's just another conversation about believing in yourself.
What specific advice would you give to a young woman starting off in the music industry?
It's so simple: Just believe in yourself, and keep working. Anything that you feel less confident about, just keep working or tune in with a friend or relative that you think can help you. But it's just believing in yourself — and realizing the difference between a career and a hobby. People need to know the difference between something that they love to do and something that they're good at.
Who would you say are your favorite producers that you've worked with? Why?
I would say Reefer Music and Dizzy Banko. With Reefer Music, it was at a time where a lot of people were judging me as an artist — as a female artist — because I was always aggressive; I was outspoken; my tone didn't fit my appearance. So I got a lot of backlash, and he put me in the studio and was saying, 'Yo, these are the beats that you need to be rapping on, so people can feel it. They could feel it and not even care about all the other stuff.' He helped me with polishing my sound.
And then Dizzy Banko, he's from the Bronx — Reefer is from Brooklyn — and Dizzy made me find different flows, like what I'm comfortable with. So he would give me beats and I would just go crazy with the flows. He built my confidence in actually figuring out flows.
Who are some producers you want to work with in the future?
The producers I'd love to work would be Timbaland, of course — I love Missy [Elliot], and every time I think about Missy I think about Timbaland. And I'd want to work with London on da Track, because he's my generation. I want to tune in with old school and new school.
If you had to collab with another artist — dead or alive — who would it be?
I would have love to collab with Tupac. And DMX. They have range, and that range is in me. When I speak on Tupac or DMX, people will say, 'I can see it, I can hear it in your music.'
If you had to describe yourself as an artist in two or three words, what would those words be?
Very Brooklyn, very aggressive, and very dedicated.
What can we look forward to from Lola Brooke?
My team and I are working on getting back to performances, and I have a project coming up — I don't have an exact date — but the name is "Lil Big Mama." We're also going crazy on my new single that just dropped with Billy B, called "Don't Play With It," and I''ll be having merch out for that as well.
Listen to Lola's new single "Don't Play With It," as well as "Back to Business" below.