At this point, Le1f might find it hard to do anything wrong. After his 2012 hair-fling into the spotlight with the shruggy, slow-beated, Wut, off his Dark York mixtape, Le1f managed to make even that single seem less-than in 2013, with his flittering grindcore Spa Day mixtape and the crisp and smart Tree House. It was as if Le1f had never heard of a sophomore slump—or any kind of slump for that matter.
And now he’s at it again. After announcing his signing to Terrible Records/XL last month, Le1f’s first EP for the label is already here. At five tracks long, Hey is only a glimmer of what warped aesthetic chillness Le1f is capable of churning out. The EP’s first track, Hey, starts with a club-tinged synth beat that filters through Le1f’s casual but twisted flow as he sums himself up: “I’m a sphinx, I’m a forest nymph, I’m a water sprite.” If you’re not distracted by the cranium curling rhythm of his cadence, you might realize that one of the most exciting rappers in New York right now just called himself a “forest nymph,” and sounded suave as hell doing it.
Sup is a darker Le1f than we’re used to, utilizing a snarling trap beat that sludges through tough, heady lyrical play. The album’s single, Boom, is more dance-ready, with shaken snaps, Le1f’s standard seductive coos, and references to Super Mario ’64. Oh, and that song Wut I mentioned earlier? It’s on here too, and after almost two years cooking time, it sounds as good as ever.
The EP’s final track, Buzz, features a beat that sounds like wet flip-flops squeaking and thwacking through a public bathroom, while Le1f stands on top of the sink and shimmys around like, “I’m a man’s man/Literally, damn.” As the song ends in a whirl of squawks and static, you’re left feeling a little post-rollercoaster, wondering how that could’ve all happened so quickly. But in the end, this EP is merely Le1f saying what up—a reminder that he’s not going anywhere.