THE 43rd ANNUAL BRIC CELEBRATE BROOKLYN! FESTIVAL STUNNED ON OPENING NIGHT FEATURING HEADLINER ARI LENNOX, A SURPRISE PERFORMANCE BY J. COLE, KAMAUU, ADELINE AND NESTA AT PROSPECT PARK
BRIC AND NYC PARKS UNVEILED THE OFFICIAL RENAMING OF THE “LENA HORNE BANDSHELL” AS PART OF THE CITY-WIDE INITIATIVE TO HONOR THE BLACK EXPERIENCE IN NYC
BRIC, the Brooklyn-based leading arts and media institution, kicked off their 43rd annual BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival with an official return to live, in-person performances. While last year’s season of the free concert series was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reinvented as a virtual two-day event, this season will follow in BRIC’s tradition of bringing the Brooklyn community together by celebrating the culture, music, and people that make the borough one of a kind.
The evening commenced with opening remarks from BRIC’s President Kristina Newman-Scott, the Executive Producer of Celebrate Brooklyn! Lia Camille Crockett, Comptroller Elect Brad Lander, President of Prospect Park Alliance Sue Donoghue, and NYC Parks Commissioner Mitch Silver. Commissioner Silver announced the official renaming of the Prospect Park Bandshell to the “Lena Horne Bandshell.” With a strong endorsement from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the historic concert venue has been renamed in honor of Brooklyn-born Lena Horne, who was a social justice and civil rights activist, trailblazing dancer, actress and singer in theater, film and television. The renaming supports BRIC’s commitment to championing diverse culture-shifters and elevating artists from around the world and around the block.
Queens-based artist Nesta opened the night of incredible music performances, paying homage to his Jamaican roots with an R&B twist, performing songs including “Str8 From The Heart,” “Poison,” “Brag,” “Frontin’,” “Why Not Love,” and “Already There.” Next, the politically conscious rapper, poet, and Brooklynite KAMAUU had his fans on their feet and singing word for word during his set, which featured songs “Purl,” “Bamboo,” “Switch Up,” “Ivy,” “Sunbogalo,” “Jambo,” his crowd-pleasing reinvited cover of “Hey Ya,” “Clover,” “Icarus,” “Gold,” and “Mango,” featuring French-Caribbean singer and bassist Adeline, who joined him on stage. KAMAUU also performed a special preview of an unreleased record for the fans.
Finally, headliner Ari Lennox graced the stage with soulful renditions of her songs “Whipped Cream,” “Broke,” “New Apt,” “Facetime,” “Chicago Boy,” “I Been,” “Up Late,” “40 Shades,” “Speak to Me,” and a medley of old favorites, “Goat,” “Backseat,” and “Night Drive.” Towards the end of her set, Ari Lennox treated the crowd to an unbelievable surprise performance with artist J. Cole, who sang his verse on her hit-single “Shea Butter Baby.” The Brooklyn audience was filled with palpable excitement and resounding cheers for J. Cole, who praised Ari Lennox before leaving the stage. The night ended with Ari singing “BMO,” and the energy of the park overflowed with pure joy.
The BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival will continue through September 18 with upcoming performances including The Roots, Wizkid, D-Nice with special guests, Glass Animals, Skip Marley, Vijay Iyer, Rita Indiana, Mr. Eazi, Trombone Shorty, Junglepussy, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Yaeji, and more!
“She’s got an attack in her flow, juxtaposed with a finesse in her lyricism and a hunger in her vocal tone. Her family gave her traditions, Toronto shaped her, and California helped form her sound.” – Toronto Guardian
Toronto-based queer alt-hip hop artist, Lex Leosis, shares her EP, Terracotta, today– just in time for peak summer vibes. The now Tiktok rap battle champ is also debuting a brand new video for “That Feel,” which shows an easy, breezy afternoon of skating in the sunshine. Leosis’ signature attitude is in full force in video with her lioness hair, long nails and high energy.
“That Feel” feels like a celebration, and this new release deserves exactly that. The video was shot in both Los Angeles and Toronto. Director, Yohalmo, who is embedded into longboard communities in LA, shot all the California scenes. He brought together the cast and both main characters Shannen Soriano and Laura Paragano. Director, Sharleen Meinke, who also directed the “Wanted” official video, shot Leosis’ parts in Toronto.
The previously released single and outlaw anthem, “Wanted,” arrived with an icon Thelma and Louise-inspired video. The debut single from the project was the sunny, tropical-beat infused, “Won’t Wait,” which showcased a breezy, bouncy beat under Leosis’ vulnerable lyrics and she yearns for real talk and love, but not at the expense of self-worth.
“Won’t Wait” and “Wanted” were produced by Rainer Blanchaer (Drake, The Weeknd, French Montana, The 1975), who is an executive producer on the whole EP. Having met through Leosis’ roommate, Blanchaer became a pandemic pal, and one of the only people she’s seen consistently during lockdown. They’ve used their time making music together in Leosis’ bedroom studio and the result is Terracotta. Describing the new EP, she says:
“In the Terracotta pots process, clay starts by being refined and molded. Through fire, time, and attention to detail…the terracotta pot is complete. I wrote this project through the pandemic. I was coming off releasing “Mythologies” (March 2020) and I was sad that I had to cancel a lot of my roll-out plans. No interviews, shows/tours or celebrations. I put my whole heart into that project and to see that I couldn’t continue my rollout because of the pandemic was a big blow. Instead of letting it defeat me, I decided that it would make me stronger and that I would use this time to rebuild.”
Creating a space to make music in her bedroom, she decided on a re-design for her space to inspire her creatively. She says, “I started looking into color palettes that would inspire the re-design…and there it was Terracotta. The summer had passed and it was getting colder and we were all aware of what was about to happen. Locked down in the cold with little sun. Like a lot of other people, my mental health doesn’t do well in these conditions. My bedroom design had to be warm, it had to be bright and happy. It had to channel summer. The vision of summer 2021 represented a time where this might all be over and things may be better.”
She adds, “So as the pieces of my bedroom start to come together, so does this project. My space is giving me the energy I need to focus every day. I immediately started learning instruments (piano and MPD). The Terracotta bedspread becomes the place I write “Won’t Wait.” I started daily meditation and writing a verse every day. I was lying down on my geometric gray rug when I came up with the hook for “Reality.” I start working out more and envisioning my live show. I was surrounded by plants in terracotta pots when I penned “That Feel.” Then at the end of this writing period, I have a warm, bright home space, at the exact same time as I have this incredible project. One year later and I’m a completely different person.”
Leosis also admits, “The EP definitely had a muse. Someone I really love and has consistently inspired me. This EP details all the feelings I’ve had about them, and consequently, about myself over the last year.” A dedication to the softness that quarantine created in her, a part of herself she didn’t have time to look at before, she also had time to dig through her grandfather’s old jazz records that she loved as a kid. When he passed in 2009, the records were given to her but had been dusty until Covid made her slow way down. The piano, saxophones and live drums on those records inspired the live elements on the new EP and Leosis says, “He had this foresight to leave those to me. We used to sit in his car outside our house and just listen to Jazz and I loved music as a kid.”
Between her quality time with Rainer, her grandfather’s records and her time to be with herself, she found a way to channel summer’s warmth, growth and freedom into 6 tracks. Terracotta is out everywhere now.
Terracotta EP Tracklisting
Hold Yah Down
Known for her dynamic flows, aggressive stage presence and elaborate story-telling, Lex Leosisis a name you will soon remember. With a unique gravely vocal delivery, acrobatic flows, and a mastery of her instrumentation, Lex breathes life into Hip-Hop and mesmerizes with her rapping abilities. Setting herself uniquely apart by holding space for various causes and using her platform to support other women and non-binary artists and creatives, Lex is not afraid to give props where it’s due.
Born in the west end of Toronto, Lex Leosis has dedicated her life to her music and artistry. Juggling her hiphop career, a plant-forward cooking website and catering company, and holding down multiple jobs, Lex prides herself on hard work, discipline and survival, traits she picked up from her mother. It gave Lex the energy to perfect her craft, grow her career and exchange stories with artists from all over the world. Lex is loud, opinionated, constantly fighting for what she believes in and hungry to make something of the Leosis name. She’s got an attack in her flow, juxtaposed with a finesse in her lyricism and a hunger in her vocal tone. Her family gave her traditions, Toronto shaped her, and California helped form her sound.
From humble beginnings, Lex first found a home in hip-hop at rap competitions and cyphers. She met a number of creatives through online rap communities and has up and parted from Toronto multiple times to join her peers in cities all over the U.S. to collaborate, make music and perform. Sharpening her teeth participating in various rap battles, Lex was widely known as a hip-hop force that could outrap anyone. Spending most of her time in the Bay Area of California, Lex has allowed her traveling influences to expand her music sound and capability.
Lex spent 2017-2019 devoting herself to Canadian rap group powerhouse, The Sorority. The group made waves with a 2016 International Women’s Day Cypher, and went on to release a debut album and toured extensively, sharing stages with artist like Miguel, Joey Badass & Snoop Dogg. After the group disbanded in 2019, Lex lead 2020 with her debut full length, Mythologies, a darker trap-heavy project that allowed her to explore her Greek roots and family history. Despite a derailed album release plan due to COVID-19, she followed the project up with summer bop, Pull Up, and the rap/house collaboration, Swerve, with DJ Cazztekand released under Armin Van Buuren’s label, Armada.
Lex found opportunity and inspiration during COVID lockdown establishing a new sound, taking control of her artistry by learning keys, bass and taking vocal lessons. She formed a team of creatives around her and using her tools, experience and community, developed her quintessential Lex Leosis sound with smooth west coast vibey instrumentation under melodious hooks and biting hip hop verses. Searching for an outlet to continue to rap bars, Lex began daily duets on Tiktok and has amassed over a million views on her videos and had drawn the attention of Tiktok Canada and numerous artists from The Arkells to K Flay.
Keep your eyes on this rising star as she continues to blaze her own trail in hip hop.
*Photo credit: Natasha Gerschon
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