Mustard has a knack for changing music. The Grammy-winning South Los Angeles native pioneered a new rap sound and ushered in a new wave in the early 2010s dispensing sizzling skeletal soundscapes for YG (“My Hitta”) and Tyga (“Rack City”). With an arsenal of dance floor and radio beats at the ready, Mustard’s signature sound quickly became the go-to aural fix for the top acts in urban music today.
Some of his biggest hits to date include Rihanna’s “Needed Me,” “Omarion’s “Post to Be” with Chris Brown and Jhene Aiko, and YG’s “Big Bank” featuring 2 Chainz, Big Sean and Nikki Minaj. The 40x platinum-selling producer has earned a string of accolades for his efforts, including BMI’s prestigious “Songwriter of the Year “award and BET Hip-Hop Awards’ “Producer of the Year.”
Mustard flipped the script again in 2018, delivering an elegant throwback sound for his protégé, R&B songstress Ella Mai, whose “Boo’d Up” proved a staggering success. The smash hit recently won the 2019 Grammy award for “Best R&B Song,” earning Mustard his very first Grammy. “Boo’d Up” is tied for the longest-running #1 by a woman on Billboard magazine’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart. The song was also #1 on both Urban Mainstream and Urban AC Radio at the same time in July 2018, an accomplishment last earned by Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” in 2014.
Thanks in part to his work with Ella Mai, Mustard expanded from the “ratchet” club sound he popularized to a more refined one. His sonic evolution and his ability to develop an R&B artist wowed music industry insiders. “You get looked at in a different light when you break an artist like that,” Mustard says of his phenomenal success with Ella Mai, who he signed to his 10 Summers record label.
Never one to rest on the laurels of success, Mustard is plotting yet another musical shift. First up is his “Pure Water” single with platinum rappers Migos. “With ‘Pure Water,’ I wanted to go straight to the club,” reveals Mustard. “It sounds like a party. And I'm not saying like a down South party or a Trap party. It's like Migos-coming- to-LA-and-having-a-house-party here.”
With the single climbing the charts, the 28-year-old father of three wants to show that his decade of dominance is only the beginning. “It's like I've been here this whole time but I think that this year is going to be the year that everybody can actually see it,” Mustard says, “that people actually get to see me grow in front of them.”
Even if you've followed the meteoric rise of musician and producer Leikeli47 thus far, you're not prepared for where she's going to take you next. Her second album Acrylic is brash, bold, and as gleefully tough as the material the album takes its name from. "We have this saying that when you smell acrylic, you know just where you are," she explains while discussing what the album title means to her. "Acrylic is a hard substance and I feel this is one of my harder records to date. It speaks to how hard times don’t break you, they make you.”
The road to Acrylic has been eventful for Leikeli47, who's profile had been on the rise with several appearances on HBO's Insecure soundtrack, an appearance with Lion Babe at Coachella, and having her inaugural ArfroPunk performance. Leikeli47 continued to elevate her profile in 2018 after the release of Acrylic, being named to NPR’s 50 Best Albums of 2018, Paper’s 20 Best Albums of 2018 , Esquire’s 50 Best rap songs of 2018 and entries in the EOY lists of Complex, Forbes and Brooklyn Vegan among others. “There's been so many new opportunities," she reminisces. "It's been a really cool time, and I'm still taking it in. I've been in the studio discovering new sounds. Creatively, it's been a fun ride."
There's nothing but laser-guided focus on Acrylic, a true representation of the breadth of Leikeli47's talent. "Full Set (A New Style)" pulses with flashy ballroom samples and Leikeli47's up-front cadence, while "Roll Call" is a boisterous and flat-out fun tribute to HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). "It highlights the black college experience," she explains. " One love to all of the higher learning institutions but there’s just a special line of love I have for my Historically Black Institutions. Getting your education is bomb no matter where you decide to go but it was very fun to get in and create art around a culture that’s not often celebrated. I get to show people how we get down and that’s a beautiful thing.”
And that's the overriding message behind Acrylic: come together and have some fun, regardless of who you are. I'm all about letting people in — I love putting my message in music," Leikeli47 explains when talking about her artistic mission statement. "It's a great way to engage people and get them talking to each other. A lot of the time we don't know how our worlds relate because we barely talk to each other. We take stuff too seriously—it's time to have fun and be part of a melting pot of individuals." Leikeli47 wants to bring the world together as one, and through Acrylic, her message is as infectious as ever.