Leeroy Jelks is an 18 years old artist from Buffalo, New York who is trying to create and perfect a new style of rap he calls Alternative Boom Bap. His track 'Juice From Concentrate' is currently our Song of the Week. We connected with Leeroy to find out how he got his start in the rap game, what we can expect from his upcoming project "Oxygen", and much more.
How did you get your start writing and recording tracks?
I got started writing songs in kindergarten as a way to basically make some noise so everything wouldn't seem so quiet around me all the time. I didn't start taking this seriously and actually recording and writing quality tracks that I felt people would like, til honestly about a little over a month ago.
Does your name Leeroy Jelks have a special meaning?
The first half of my name, Leeroy, comes from my dad's middle name, Lee. About a decade ago, I was wondering why I didn't have a middle name, so I took his middle name and simply added Roy to it because of the movie Leeroy and Stitch, to be honest. Jelks is my mom's maiden name. I wanted to go with a name that included both halves which make me up, which is part of my mom and part of my dad.
What can we expect from your upcoming mixtape and do you have a release date for it?
I actually scrapped the mixtape. I plan on releasing a free EP on August 6th. It'll be about 8-10 tracks long and I'm still working on the name of it. It more than likely will be called "Oxygen" though. The first video for one of the songs off the EP drops Friday night.
What's the Rap scene like in Buffalo?
Buffalo is composed of many different types of rap; there's not really a set sound like how Brooklyn and Harlem have their sounds. A lot majority of it is trap or drill music though with some gangster and conscious individuals. My cousin, Fwaygo, is a producer/rapper who I can say has a very unique way of doing things as well. Everyone's just trying to find what works best and sounds good that'll really set them apart because there really aren't any huge rap artists coming from Buffalo or even leaving Buffalo.
Break down what 'Alternative Boom Bap' is; when you are going through prospective beats to write to, what are you listening for specifically?
Alternative Boom Bap is mainly me never wanting to completely stay on beat when I first started rapping. So we have me rapping haphazardly over Pete rock or DJ Premier instrumentals while never following the song format of 16 bars and an 8 bar hook. I liked the way it sounded when I would go off beat and start ranting for a couple bars so to speak, so I spent the next 5 years trying to make it sound intentional and perfect while also figuring out a way to easily transition back on the beat.
My beat selection process is pretty long. There are two things I listen for -- drums and smooth synths or jazzy undertones. I actually bought the beat for Juice off searching for hours on YouTube and going through a lot of similar sounding beats. The electronically mixed beats I choose compliment my off beat ways because in electronic, there's not really a set pattern throughout the entire song; I can make up as I go along. When you put them together, you get a unique sound that won't be found in New York.