Alaya High is not your average 11-year-old. Known as Lay Lay, she is a health-conscious vegetarian and social media sensation who has more lyrical skills than most of your favorite rappers.
The Houston native initially attracted attention by posting videos of herself freestyling. Her unique punchlines and use of the triplet rhyme scheme made her stand out in a crowded field of social media rappers. Her videos eventually went viral, earning her the respect of artists such as Quavo, T.I., and 50 Cent.
Two months after posting her “Shoot” freestyle video, Lay Lay made history by becoming the youngest female rapper to be signed to a major record deal by Empire Records.
In the midst of recording her debut album, Lay Lay stopped by rolling out studios to share her thoughts on becoming a viral sensation, gaining attention from prominent rap artists and making rap history.
When did you initially fall in love with rap?
I just fell in love with rapping by being with my dad who was always in the studio. I always wanted to go back to the studio. But I eventually started rapping in the car, so that’s how it started.
You were born and raised in Houston, but you’re in Atlanta often. Are you now a resident of Atlanta?
[Houston] is where I was born. I actually moved to Atlanta to come make some little money moves, you know. Bills gotta get paid. I go back to Houston when I want to see all my friends and play. But, you know, I’m gon’ take them on a shopping spree, so I gotta make the money.
Do you freestyle or are your raps written?
Not all of it comes off the dome. I practice it and then I do it, but not everything is just off the dome and not everything is on paper. It’s just how I feel, and I just have fun with it. You have to have fun. If you’re trying to make money moves, you gotta have fun with it.
The “Shoot” freestyle was the first one to go viral. Take me back to that day. How did it happen?
We were actually driving, and I was like, “Hey, dad. Pull the car over.” I had a rap that I wanted to do. He pulled the car over and parked. I just started freestyling. I didn’t know it would go viral like this, but I was happy it did. It took about three weeks to go viral.
T.I., Quavo and 50 Cent all gave you props. Do you plan on working with any of them?
I’ve met Quavo. He said it was amazing how I was doing it and he was a fan. I was sitting down and his friend was like, “Hey, that’s that little girl who raps.” So he came over to me and said, “Hey, you’re really dope, and I love your music. I’m a very huge fan.” When I was leaving, he stopped me and said, “Hey, we gotta do something. I have to get your number so we can do a song together.” I was really really excited. I will be on a song with Quavo.
Who are your favorite artists?
My favorite artist is Takeoff and all of the Migos. Takeoff is so quiet, but when he does his verse, he always goes hard. Offset’s verses are just very memorable. You can never forget his verses. And Quavo just really vibes. Lil Baby is also one of my favorites. And my favorite rapper is my dad. He’s really really good, too. I’ve been in the studio with him, and he’s always amazing.
How did it feel to make history as the youngest rapper to sign a record deal?
Yes, I’m the youngest female. I went viral, and it came down to who was talking the most money. It was like the lottery. You scratch off, and Empire [Records] got me because they came with the money.
You have also made the decision to go vegan. What made you give up meat at a young age?
My dad was always vegan. So as I thought about it, I was like, “Wow. It’s kind of crazy how I’m eating another form of life.” So as I was thinking about it, I was like they kill them and fry them. I don’t want to eat that. Because how would I feel if they cut my arm off, put batter on it, all this seasoning, and then they put it in the fire? I don’t want my arm to be cut off. I need my arm. [Laughs]
You have so much confidence. What advice do you give to young girls or boys who may be struggling with their self-esteem?
Don’t let anybody doubt you. Girls, please stick up for yourself, and don’t let anybody doubt you. Whatever you put your mind to, you can do it. I don’t let anybody doubt me because the only person that can doubt me is me, myself and I. [She starts singing Beyoncé’s “Me, Myself, and I”]…That’s all I got in the end/That’s what I found out… Sorry, y’all. I be getting into myself. [Laughs]
What’s next for you?
My single will be coming out August 24. You’ll be seeing it. It’s gonna be lit.