Feature Image: Thatsenuff.com
Who’s next? Is that even a question? No doubt, Lola Brooke.
Popular New York City hip-hop radio station, Hot 97, is known for keeping their ears to the streets. Once a month they reach out to artists who’ve been creating a buzz around town, offering them the opportunity to showcase their talents, live. This is their chance to prove their hunger for the music industry and to the world.
March 27th marked the annual event, and a Monday night didn’t prevent the public from coming out to show their support. The club was roughly packed and to my surprise, housed more males than females. Drinks occupied the hands of many, as the crowd mixed and mingled with one another before the artists graced the stage.
The artist that immediately caught my attention during Who’s Next was Lola Brooke. The moment we met she exuded the swag of a Brooklyn breed, and just from her aura, attitude, and lingo, I knew she was a product of “The Stuy.” When backstage, she was approached by the host, Shani Kulture, who was reaching out to show love and inquire how she wanted to be introduced to the stage.
“Petite yet raw,” she spat instantly.
Her tone of voice during her response left me amazed, as she assured what she brought to the table in a matter of seconds. Lola kept that same energy when she hit the stage as the opening act for the night, projecting her voice to the masses in volumes. She sure got the attention of everyone in the crowd, as smiles took over their faces while they bumped to her music. When her set came to an end the audience went crazy, and the sounds of loud cheering and screaming filled the room.
After tearing down the stage, I got a chance to chop it up with the rapper to learn more about the face behind the music, and the stories she dwells on in her rhymes.
Jenelle: What is the origin behind the name Lola Brooke?
Lola Brooke: Okay, so you know Lola the bunny from Space Jam? I used to wear pony tails with bangs in High School and people would say, “You look like Lola the bunny.” From there they would always say Lola, Lola. Then one time I said to myself one day I’m going to rap, I know I’m going to rap so I need to come up with a rap name. I sat there at like 3 in the morning on the phone with my cousin and I said, “I think it’s Lola Brooke.” She said what? Why Lola Brooke? I said “because I’m from Brooklyn, you get it?” So that’s how Lola Brooke came about, because of Lola the bunny and then I’m from Brooklyn.
JT: What was it like growing up in the Bedstuy area of Brooklyn and how has it influenced your rap career?
LB: Aw man, I grew up around Tompkins Ave. It’s like everyday there was always a story to tell. Either I was in it or I was just watching it. It was real corrupted. Growing up, I look back at it like, damn, I’ve seen a lot of stuff. When I was young, I was thinking these are the things you’re supposed see, like violence, or struggles and family issues or whatever with my dad, so I started to think these are the things I’m supposed to go through. As I got older I thought damn I was young experiencing these things. That’s why I’m who I am today. That’s why I’m so intense and rough with tough skin, because of what I’ve seen or been through.
LB: In Junior High School I really started rapping. Before that, when I was in elementary school, around third or fourth grade, I had a journal that I would write my everyday movements in and I would try to rhyme with it. Then as I got to Junior High School I began really rapping. Everybody was like, “yo, you’re good!” And that’s when I really started rapping. To this day I still have my journals from when I was a baby. I still got my diaries of me trying to rap stuff.
JT: Did you have a connect into the game?
LB: It was all family wise. Everyone in my family either raps or they’re fashion designers. We used to have family gatherings and we had a little booth in a family house in Marcy Projects. Everyone used to go in there and just rap. I was young at the time and there would be older people in the room rapping, and I used to be like yo this is probably one of the reasons I be doing this, because it’s already here. So that’s when they inspired and said, “you know this is what you’re supposed to be doing, take it serious.”
JT: How did you link up with TEAM80?
LB: It was actually through one of my teammates that raps. He DM’d me like, “yo I want you to get on a song with me.” I’m thinking it’s just a feature so I said, okay, cool. I get to the studio and everybody’s in there. I’m thinking what they here for. They started talking to me, asking me “how serious do you take rap.” I’m like, this why you really brought me here? I thought I was just here to rap. So that’s how I got with the family. They made me feel real comfortable. At the time I was just around them, seeing different movements in the studio with them, hanging out, and then I just fell into it.
JT: And you’re the only female in your team, right? What’s that like?
LB: I love them, I really love them. I’m around them like 24/7. They be killing me, but they always hold me down though. They’re real overprotective of me but I’m always comfortable.
JT: Has being a female in a male dominated industry ever discouraged you?
LB: I’m inspired by male artists. I know I’m a female but I be thinking I’m good just like them and I could rap like them. Probably could do a lil better, but you know. *laughs* They don’t intimidate me so I just feel like I fit right in.
JT: No doubt your rhymes are hard. Is there a particular vibe you like to have in the studio that helps you create?
LB: It’s crazy because I write better if I’m in the car or on my way somewhere. When I used to work, because I just recently quit my job, I would write on the train or on the bus. I could vibe in the studio but I gotta be in my own space sometimes. Like I gotta want to be in the studio. Before I used to spit, like it was just my emotions, so somebody couldn’t be like, “oh let’s go to the studio” and then I just cook something up. But I’m starting to learn how to do it now because I’m trying to do songs. The way I just be spitting is based on what I see. I gotta see it for me to talk about it. I gotta go through it for me to talk about it or a conversation has to happen for me to really rap about something. But I’m learning how to vibe out around a lot of people. When I was in Atlanta and there was like a good 20 people in the studio, I isolated myself. I’ll go in the corner and I’ll sit on the floor. They be like where Lola at? Oh, she’s right there. I always isolate myself. I gotta be in my zone, I zone everybody out, I don’t hear nobody. Sometimes I’ll even kick my team out. I just be like y’all gotta go. They be like “what, why? Can I stay? Just one person?” And I be like no everybody gotta get out.
JT: So let’s talk about “2017 Flow.” What inspired you to write that record.
LB: You know, I was on the bus writing that. J train to the B46 I wrote that. I was going to work and I started it on my way to work and finished it when I was leaving work. I wasn’t even in the house doing that, I was outside, walking to the bus, writing in my notes. This was something I was thinking about, I just had to get it off my mind. I didn’t know it was going to do what it did. I was just doing it to do it. It was just there and when I put it up they went crazy. I’m like oh, no I gotta quit my job cuz this is crazy. I gotta go to the studio.
JT: In the song you said, “My daddy is gone, I put pain in my songs.” I know how hard it is to lose a parent. How do you continue to remain strong and tell your story?
LB: I still haven’t told it yet. I just tell people that my dad is gone, he passed away, or whatever. I tried so many times to write a song about my dad but I can’t do it. Like I’m just not ready yet. I met this one guy in Atlanta, he had an instrumental for me. He was playing it and I started free-styling. Then when it was really time to lay it down I couldn’t do it. So I didn’t and never really got to tell the story. That’s probably why I’m still stuck in my ways of still writing as if it’s a journal, because I’m trying to get to the point where I can just lay it all out, and I still haven’t done it yet. It’s been like a year and a few months since he’s passed. It just hit a year last September, September 24th to be exact. It’s like damn I still can’t get it out! But I know once somebody give me that beat, I just need that beat, and I feel that base and when I feel it, imma go crazy. I know it’s going to happen sooner or later though.
JT: How did you feel when you heard one of your records on the radio for the first time?
LB: I did a song with one of my teammates called “I’ll Be Good.” It’s a remix to Foxy Brown’s song. At first it didn’t click to me because I was in the Dominican Republic and people kept hitting me up. You know you get wifi here and there, and when I was getting the text messages I was about to get on the flight so I couldn’t really speak to people. My phone just kept going bing,bing,bing,bing,bing. Gotta put it on airplane mode, gotta get on the plane. I was like is it really playing? I couldn’t even get that first take because it was playing and I wasn’t even in the country. I couldn’t really get the feel of it, but it was dope though.
The first time I actually heard it myself is when I was at the radio station just chillin and they played my record. I was like oh shit that’s me. But the one I went crazy over is when I remixed “Black Beatles.” I was like oh my gosh, because I felt so bad I told everybody I was going to put it out and then I couldn’t drop it on SoundCloud because of copyright issues. My management got it to get on the radio and I was like oh my gosh I didn’t let my fans down. So that part I was like excited for .
JT: Maino recently released his EP, “Ghetto God,” and you’re featured on his track, “Doing It Well.” What was it like working on a project with an established rapper?
LB: We go at it all the time. Not no more, we cool now. *laughs* Not like really go at it, just like playful stuff. He’s always on me like what are you doing, do this or that, like a big brother. He really be giving me guidance. That one time I first came to the studio, when I thought I was just doing a feature, he was there. But that feature happened out of no where. I think I did DJ Envy show, I can’t remember, but I came and did a freestyle. I remember being aggravated that day. I did my thing but something was aggravating me. I came back to the studio and they asked me to get on Maino track, and I just went off. I did it in like 10 minutes because I was so mad, I just wrote so fast. When I got into the booth I was like it might not be all that but listen to it. And he was like “ohhh how you, ohhh that’s crazy!” I was like y’all really like it? And he was like “yeahhh!” That’s how that happened.
JT: Describe the emotions you felt the day you met Meek Mill and he knew who you were.
LB: See, he asked of me. One time they was like Chino just put your video on his snap and I was like forreal? So I went to it and I was like ohhh snap! It was at Meek’s house, and they said Meek commented under the video that they posted of me and said (damn how can I forget what he said) either crack with flames or lit with mad flames. And everybody was screenshotting it and sending it to me, and that’s my idol. Like he inspired me to do music. So I’m like this is not real, this is not real. But I met him face to face in Philly. He was performing at the Friends and Family concert and then I met him at the club.
Everybody was like you nervous, you nervous? He was like “Lola I know you ain’t scared, I know your whole rhyme I know you ain’t scared”. And I’m like no I’m not scared. I wasn’t scared but I was so nervous. I don’t know why but I was like this is real. Since I was young I was listening to him, before he was signed or anything, so I was like is he really telling me he knows one of my rhymes, personally? I was just rapping yours in high school going crazy! I was like really ecstatic about it.
JT: So I know you look up to male artists in the game, any female artists/rappers that inspire you?
LB: Honestly speaking, I give credit to a lot of females artists, but I never was inspired by a female rapper. They didn’t make me want to rap. Like, I’m a tomboy so you know some females, they learn how to rap sassy and stuff, I’m just starting to learn how to rap sassy because I’m getting older and I’ll probably get a boyfriend or whatever. But not now. So yeahh, when I first started I knew how to be a lil feminine here and there, but I was young and the things they were saying I was like I’m not doing that, I’m not into that. I like playing basketball and stuff like that so that’s why I was always inspired by guys, because I was a tomboy.
JT: Who are you currently listening to? What’s on heavy rotation?
LB: I be listening to so much stuff. Today I listened to some song, ummm, pull up with a stick, let it hit. It’s going crazy in Atlanta. You go in the club and they be going crazy to that song. I’m listening to Future. I listen to a lot. Whenever new music comes out I normally take the chance to listen to it to see whether I like it or not. It doesn’t matter who the artist is, music is music.
JT: Name three artists you’d like to collaborate with in the future.
LB: Of course Meek, I got to, that’s my idol. Of course Hov, that’s hometown, that’s home team. Damn, only three. That’s hard. The last one is hard. But alright, I like Future.
JT: Some artists are signing to labels and others want to stay independent, where do you see yourself going?
LB: I really don’t even know. I’m still learning so I don’t wanna say I’m going here and then future wise I feel like I don’t need that. But at the same time everybody needs help. So I just feel like I want to learn everything first before I sit there and make the decision about if feel like a label is good for me or being independent. I’m still trying to learn the ropes.
JT: I know you’re not new to the stage at SOB’s. Tell me about the first time you performed here.
LB: Oh girl I was nervous, like shaking. I’m not even gon’ lie. But when I got on stage it’s like everything changed. As soon as I caught the mic, when I was done I was like wow I never knew I could feel like that. Like be so nervous and then soon as I hit the stage I just blacked out. Music literally just makes me blackout.
Lola Brooke is currently grinding and working hard to pursue her music career. She can’t give away too much details on the project she’s working on right now, but just know she’s gearing up to shoot an epic visual that she’s ready to drop, so stay tuned for “Chapter One.”
Check out a clip from SOB’s below, courtesy of Hot 97.