Not every rapper out there cares about being a baller, or even wants you to think they’re one. Jake Lefco isn’t a baller. He’s an everyman. He rhymes about situations everyone goes through and therefore everyone can relate to. Heck, his first single back in 2006 (“Headphones”) was all about the joys of being able to block out the world with headphones, and while some artists are still putting expensive cars and scantily clad women they will never meet on their flyers Lefco is tossing branded dental floss out into the crowd. The floss is a promo for his recently released album, Missing Trooth, which is the follow up to his debut LP, And You Are? The Philadelphia born emcee, who now lives in NYC, has always liked to do things a little differently and it’s been getting him noticed. A brazenly honest individual, Lefco sat down with RapReviews this week to discuss why he rhymes, what’s surprised him most about the NY scene, and what’s up with his evil twin Fake Rightco.
Adam Bernard: First question, straight up, why are you rappin? I mean, when it comes to the masses this isn’t exactly the most loved and respected occupation in the world. Just look at what happened to us when you came on my radio show as a guest, the cops tried to shut us down!
Jake Lefco: The rappin part happens by itself. I do it because I love it, regardless of who’s listening. Promoting my music and pursuing my career takes more of a conscious effort, but I know that if I want my voice to be heard I have to put in that work! I could care less who does or doesn’t respect the occupation.
AB: Your new album is Missing Trooth. What truths are we missing?
JL: The answer to that question is different for everybody. It’s that void only you can fill for yourself. In the world of rap music it’s a lack of sincerity and a surplus of shit. In America it’s a lack of information and a surplus of fear. In your mind it’s a lack of confidence and a surplus of doubt. In your mouth it’s a lack of teeth and a surplus of gap!
“I’ve never had that superhero, larger-than-life persona. I tell it like I see it.”
AB: A lot of your content can be considered everyman music. It’s very relatable to just about anyone. Was it your intent to craft your work in this way, or is this simply the real you coming out on record?
JL: That’s just me. I’ve never had that superhero, larger-than-life persona. I tell it like I see it.
AB: Why did you choose to go with “Comfort Zone” as the lead single?
JL: We chose “Comfort Zone” because it’s an oddball track with crazy flavor! We felt it was important to show from the get-go that Jake Lefco was far from your average, generic, underground rapper. Whether or not heads are ready to embrace that new sound, “Comfort Zone” WILL grab their attention.
AB: Who came up with the idea for the video and how did you pull it off?
JL: Benjamin Ahr Harrison directed and produced the “Comfort Zone” video. He deserves most of the credit as far as concepts and storyboard sequences go. He also put together a great crew, including animator Benjamin Oviat. It was a group effort that took a lot of persistence and patience, and the finished product came out hot!
AB: In an industry that still rewards the ludicrously opulent how can a regular guy who doesn’t own six cars or have a case of the latest expensive alcoholic beverage in his fridge make an impact?
JL: Even though it still dominates the industry I think people are finally getting tired of that shit. The level of wackness in mainstream Hip-Hop has reached ridiculous heights and it’s played out. At this point the masses are hungry for something fresh.
AB: A few years ago you moved from Philly to NYC. How do the cities’ Hip-Hop scenes differ?
JL: Just like anything in NYC the rap scene is a lot bigger up here. While I’ve found my way into certain circles that remind me of the Philly scene, I know there is a whole lot more going on that I haven’t tapped into yet.
AB: What about New York’s scene has surprised you the most?
JL: I’m surprised every time I come face to face with a famous emcee or DJ, which has been happening to me a lot lately. Even though I know that NY is the home of celebrities it’s a trip to be at an event and casually bump into these cats. It’s also mad encouraging to watch legendary artists rock the same stages as I do.
“Mostly I miss seeing my close friends and family in the audience… that, and the cheesesteaks!”
AB: What do you miss most about Philly’s scene?
JL: Mostly I miss seeing my close friends and family in the audience… that, and the cheesesteaks!
AB: Your label, Karma Response Unit Records, is still located in Philly. How has this affected your work?
JL: It’s actually been good to have us in two different cities. For one, I’ve gotten to experience new things, which always fuels new material. Plus, we’re able to grind in two different markets at the same time. It’s inconvenient when we’re just trying to bang out a quick recording or chill, but the pros definitely outweigh the cons.
AB: Finally, who is this fool Fake Rightco that occasionally shows up at your performances?
JL: That’s my twin brother. Dude’s got some serious issues, one of which is being a complete asshole. But he’s family, so I try to put him on shows from time to time. As much as I hate to admit it, Fake is an ill performer.