The German underground rap scene is a bustling outlet of young artistic genius. Its newest star is an uber talented, ultra-cerebral and sinfully sexual songbird named Layla Boe. Layla is a creative dynamo with a bravado that easily transcends any language barrier. For American audiences, she can be thought of as a heavenly combination of Erykah Badu and Nicki Minaj – a gorgeous voice punctuated by an unapologetic brashness. The 23-year-old Berlin transplant has a sultry style, shrewd lyrics, and the swagger to match. Layla’s image is carefully crafted but there is nothing careful with how she expresses herself. Self-described as “moody/spiritual”, Boe is redefining the gender power structure of German pop culture. She has been on European radars since 2020 but is poised to breakout across the pond. Her ascent to stardom is documented here by the periodicals that know her best.
From RAPVOCADO: “Layla Boe may be the discovery of 2020. Not only can she rap well, but she also sings excellently…Layla’s previous songs combine the best of the late 90s and early 2000s and mix it with a pinch of contemporary sound…R’n’B and soul music to rap. She started out with singing, but as an avid hip-hop fan she quickly found her way to spoken singing. Her influences range from Tyler the Creator, J. Cole, Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Junglepussy, and Bbymutha from the USA to OG Keemo and Luciano in Germany. Most of Layla’s songs are produced by the Hamburg beat maker AgaJon. The young Hanseatic talent learned how to sample and produce from the legendary producer Sleepwalker”. (Nicolai Jacobs)
From StayHappening.com: “Berlin-based lyrical queen…With diverse singles such as soulful pop ‘So Smooth’ to trap with attitude ‘Trick Daddy’, she is quickly rising to be one of the most sought-after and unapologetically confident vocalists in Europe, eliminating stereotypes by saying it like it is.”
From 365FemaleMCs: “Layla rides in at the end of January 2020 with her debut single ‘Choppa’…The path to this first big single in 2020 can almost be described as a standardized career plan for the Instagram generation: It started with a few snippet videos on Instagram in the first few weeks of 2019. Finally, a follower base slowly formed, who, with the ardent desire for complete songs, make the comment columns and thus also the algorithms glow. What Layla now different from her colleagues: Instead of getting a good record deal with a nice advance payment before the first single, the Münster native goes the DIY way. A digital distribution channel is set up on their own in order to be able to sharpen their artist profile completely according to their own ideas, without having to give anything to any opinions of any industrial people”. (Niklas Wilhelm)
“The decision can confidently be regarded as the right one. ‘Choppa’ sounds completely different than the R&B numbers sung in English with which Layla had built her Instagram channel. The debut single is a bold announcement…The self-confident appearance in combination with the right delivery means that the streaming numbers can quickly skyrocket into the hundreds of thousands. In addition, with the team behind Layla, there is a vision that goes far beyond the boundaries of the German rap box. Productions come from the Hamburg Agajon or the German Grammy winner Rascal”. (Wilhelm)
From GUAP.co.uk: “The now 23-year-old has already established a brand for herself as German Rap’s queen of Sex Ed. Right at the beginning of her journey in the industry, Layla put out a diverse set of sounds. First classic Rap with ’Hustla’ then a smooth combination of Soul and R&B on ’24/7’. What stood out right away for her was the 2000s-inspired soundscape, her emphasis on diversity and her angelic voice. All of which were – and still are – new to German Rap that often feeds off aggressive tunes. On social media, she quickly became notorious for her unapologetic self-confidence and open way of talking about female sexuality. Soon, that projected onto her music”. (Alina Amin)
Exberliner Magazine: [Layla Boe] is “a young artist unafraid to assert herself the way she wants. All trap beats and smirking lyricism…the tacit understanding that the path to earning respect starts with the way you look at yourself, and there is simply no mistaking what Layla sees when she looks in the mirror.” (Damien Cummings)
From Global Happenings: “With smooth sounds and clear lyrics, she asserts herself in the otherwise male-dominated rap world. Her lyrics are program: “I hand out ‘baskets like at a picnic / Don’t get too close’ because, Bro, I don’t talk, I kick you / Don’t tell me what to do or what not to do, it doesn’t do any good / Fuck off before you know it and break your neck’…Layla’s message is self-determined, feminist and strong. At the same time, she is incredibly approachable on stage. She is happy to see everyone in the audience singing and dancing, knowing her songs and celebrating them. Between the tracks she doesn’t tell platitudes but gives honest insights into her work process and the stories behind the songs. For example, how she let OG Keemo shave off her Afro in her video for ‘Dichter’”. (Sandy)
Berlin culture critic Damien Cummings describes Layla Boe as “Fierce, explicit and unapologetic”. Simply put, she is an unstoppable fusion of talent and tenacity. Hers has been a rapid ascent to stardom but her star has only begun to shine. Regarding her future plans, Layla has stated “You can expect good music in general and also English stuff. That’s all I’m saying”. That is exciting news for Western audiences. Not that one needs an interpreter to understand what she is singing about…or to recognize her talent.