Lola Brooke is a force to be reckoned with. If Hip-Hop listeners and social media users haven’t realized that through her viral single “Don’t Play With It,” then they’re sure to understand that statement after the first time they watch her perform.
The Brooklyn-bred MC clocks in at just about 4 feet, 9 inches but can shake venues with her voice and massive stage presence alone. For someone that looks up to the late DMX, an artist whose bark was much louder than his bite, that statement isn’t surprising — when Lola Brooke steps onto the stage, she makes it clear that she’s here to command the scene.
Not an easy feat for an artist who can still be deemed up-and-coming or a “rookie” in the game. But Lola Brooke makes it look easy. In a year of reaching virality, the rapper has been commended by her female predecessors — Missy Elliot for “commanding the audience” and fellow Brooklyn native Lil Kim, who even brought the rapper out at the Apollo Theater.
The past year has certainly been full of accomplishments for Lola Brooke, who sat down exclusively with The Shade Room’s Senior Editor, Jadriena Solomon, and shared how she stays true to herself and her Brooklyn roots in the midst of flourishing fame. As well as how it feels to sign with Arista Records, embark on her first international tour, and more to come.
Jadriena Solomon: The music video for your hit single “Don’t Play With It” was released in May of 2021 but has achieved viral success in the past year. As it approaches — or may have already passed its two-year anniversary since being recorded — can you recall that moment you realized the single was gold and undeniably about to take off?
Lola Brooke: I was always a fan of the song and would perform it because it made me feel good. I didn’t know how great it was, though. So when it finally took off — like that first viral moment — I didn’t pay attention to it at first. Then everybody kept calling me like, ‘Yo, you need to really look at your video going viral. It’s really going viral.’
I went back to it, and the numbers were crazy. Then it went to TikTok. Then Instagram. And I was like, ‘God, I know I kept asking, which one is my one? Is this the one?’ But I still was in denial.
Jadriena Solomon: So, just thinking about that single, what pushed you to wanna get another female rapper [Billy B] on the track also from Brooklyn? Why was that important to you?
Lola Brooke: I had a second verse, but I didn’t hear myself on the second verse. And I always told Billy B that we were going to record a song together. So I was like, I might as well reach out to her because we need to work. So this was the opportunity to make sure that I could pass this song on to her.
She sent it back, and then it was a movie. She’s from Brooklyn, so it made sense.
Lola Brooke Shares How She Balances Sexuality While Staying True To Herself
Jadriena Solomon: Today, the single sits at over 50 million streams, and the music video has over 19M views. It’s become a lot of people’s first introduction to you as an artist. Personally, I love that the single and music video (as well as your entire catalog) showcases your aggressive yet confident delivery and stature as a female rapper while still offering a bit of sex appeal. What advice would you give to up-and-coming female rappers who feel pressure to sexualize themselves or their lyrics to capture eyeballs and achieve quicker success?
Lola Brooke: The only way that sexual lyrics can feel good or make sense is if it’s you. You could say any line somebody throws at you, but if you don’t deliver it right and it doesn’t feel good, there’s no point in saying it. So when people pressure [female artists] to say certain things or to move a certain way, I say that they have to do it on their time.
I speak about sex whenever I feel like speaking about sex, but I might not say it the way [other people] want me to say it. And that’s fine. But you have to make sure that you believe in yourself. And you have to make people a believer, and that’s it.
Jadriena Solomon: I love that you’re standing firm in who you are.
Lola Brooke: Yeah, because I can’t change who I am, even if I wanted to. I’m so Brooklyn. I can’t take it out of me, and I don’t want to. So they’re going to have to take whatever I give.
Lola Brooke Details Record Deal With Arista
Jadriena Solomon: Your success has landed you a record deal with Arista Records in partnership with Team 80 Productions — major congratulations! Nowadays, we hear so many artists complain about their record deals. How did you educate yourself ahead of signing yours?
Lola Brooke: The first thing that I thought to myself was everything is not about money. It’s about a connection. It’s about an opportunity. So I didn’t go into record label rooms looking for a big bag. I went into the rooms, looking for an opportunity. And when an artist is looking for an opportunity, that makes a lot of people in the room scared. But Arista Records wasn’t.
Jadriena Solomon: You don’t hear people say that — that they want the opportunity. You hear people say they want the money; they want the exposure, they want the bigger platform.
Lola Brooke: Yeah. But without the brains, what’s the sense of the money? How are you going to know how to invest in yourself? How are you going to know how to spend it? Because money goes really quickly. And if you have a big budget in your pocket, you spend it immediately because you’ve never had it before. When you used to have just $20 a day, and now you have $2 million, you’re going to spend that money the same way would’ve when you had $20.
Jadriena Solomon: How did you know that signing to a label was the best next step for you and your career? Furthermore, how did you know signing with Arista Records was the right partnership for you?
Lola Brooke: I wasn’t focused on [signing]. My focus was making sure my team and I were building, bonding, and figuring out what works for me as an artist.
Arista Records just felt like a family. I felt like I didn’t have to change myself — I walked into the room and the exact words they said to me were, ‘We love you. Don’t change anything. We just wanna help.’ And those were the bingo words for me.
Lola Brooke Talks Touring With A Boogie
Jadriena Solomon: Currently, you’re on the road with A Boogie wit da Hoodie, embarking on your first international tour. What has the preparation process been like for you? And how has this tour experience impacted your artistry and overall motivation?
Lola Brooke: I’ve been preparing for moments like this for a very long time. I was supposed to work out, but that didn’t work out [laugh.] But I do have talks with myself looking in the mirror every day. From that, I get the confidence I need. So the supreme confidence just comes out on that stage. And I think my genetics is kind of athletic, so that helps with stamina— I just be running and running [on stage].
This tour is motivating me as an artist in so many ways because I remember the days when I was home and didn’t know what my agenda for the next day was. Right now I have things planned out every other hour of the day. So I’m just really grateful for it. I love that.
The MC Shares What Fans Can Expect Next
Jadriena Solomon: In November you dropped off your latest single, “Here I Come.” It continues to show off that Brooklyn/New York bravado that we all un-deniably love. And you also are working on delivering more music in 2023. What sounds can fans expect to hear next from you next?
Lola Brooke: It’s going to be multiple different sounds — and it’ll all feel good. I might tap into more love and more into my personal life; how long it took me to get here, and what obstacles I had to overcome. So that people can follow my story.
I’ll tell my story more and of course, let the people know I ain’t playing.
Jadriena Solomon: When it’s all said and done and you look back on your career years from now, what do you want fans to remember about Lola Brooke? What do you want your legacy to look like?
Lola Brooke: That this is what never giving up looks like. This is what consistency looks like. This is what being yourself looks like. This is what Brooklyn looks like.
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