Hype Chat: Leela James Is More Than Her Hair

HH: What do you see as the biggest difference between this album and your 2014 offering, Fall For You?
LJ: It’s a little more intense. I’m a couple more years older, so it’s more grown and the subject matter is, too.

HH: Do you have a favorite song from it?
LJ: They’re like my children, so all of them are pretty much my favorite. I would definitely lean toward a couple of the singles, Don’t Want You Back and Hard For Me. But, I really like them all.

HH: You released visuals for Hard For Me last month and, again, we don’t see the signature afro. What story are telling us with that?
LJ: It’s really just trying to show it’s always going to be about the music. The hair is cool. It’s an added part of me, it’s not going anywhere. But, it’s like an accessory. If I decide to do some curls every blue moon or braid it, or whatever, that’s my prerogative. For that particular video, it was more so setting the tone of where I was at that point in the video and the song. It’s reflective of how I wanted to be, showing a softer side, vulnerable side. It’s just trying some different things and showing different sides of me.

HH: What’s the biggest take away you want people to get from you and your music?
LJ: I’m not a one-dimensional artist. I want people to see me as an all around, complete artist. A real singer who makes really good music and happens to love different hairstyles – especially natural hairstyles, but is inclined every once in awhile to do something a little different. At the end of the day, it’s a soulful vibe around the music, the look, everything. It’s all about my Blackness.

HH: I absolutely love your frankness. Is this a side your fans often get to see?
LJ: I think that a lot of times, soul artists and neo-soul artists are considered to be very one-dimensional and only about soul music. But, I’m not. I listen to all kinds of music. I love hip hop. I listen to ratchet music. I listen to rock and roll and country. I listen to everything. I’m not that incense-burning soul singer that people kind of stereotype us to be. They expect you to be all deep and Kumbaya all the time. Please. I like to get litty, too!

HH: Describe the perfect day. What does that look like?
LJ: To lay in my bed and do absolutely nothing.

HH: Then get up and sing and go lay back down?
LJ: Yes!

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About The Author

Stephenetta (isis) Harmon

isis is a music, hair and communications junkie. founder of Sadiaa and editor for HypeHair.com.