Look Alive has the type of name that makes you wonder what the deeper meaning is.
She has the type of accent that takes you South to New Orleans. She has the type of mindset that intrigues. Although she doesn’t appear to follow labels either sexually/gendered or mindset-wise, the closet thing she can attribute her point of view to is that of a conscious person. But she isn’t one to alienate herself from the people. She’s not arrogant in her knowledge. She shares freely and never in a condescending way. She says that Black Men are an endangered species, and can relate to them in the sense that people often mistake her for one. But once you get beyond the “look” that is projected, you begin to discover the Look within. And then you realize, you’re alive and have to make the most of every moment. She’s very inspiring.
Your name is very unique, how did you come up with it?
I came up with it because I was a spoken word artist; my name was Esoteric which means “meant to be understood by a chosen few.” Then I realized conscious people only talk to other conscious cats, and I wanted to be understood by more than just a chosen few. I wanted it to be about life. Instead of dying, I wanted people to Look Alive.
You come from New Orleans and experienced a great material loss with Hurricane Katrina, but miraculously, your rhyme book and a few CDs were salvaged. Before that, you had described poetry as a hobby. Did you consider that a sign to expand your talent further? What steps did you take?
Absolutely that was a sign to go forward with it. Before that I just worked jobs. I was a spoken word artist, but I was new to rap game. My cousin was making beats and I had only been rapping 6 months prior to that. I knew it was a sign. I did a song about Hurricane Katrina
You had a very rich exposure to art, which can be expected in a New Orleans backdrop. But you have the added bonus of traveling within the States and to Europe by the time you were in HS on top of being trained in ballet, jazz and tap. How does this background influence your sound/outlook today?
Growing up in the hood and experiencing those things set me a part from the other cats. Being a live musician, the artsy part of the music made my perspective different. It gives me diversity.
Everybody is cool until you have something they want.
Still the streets are always tempting to any explorer, and you were no exception. What’s a major lesson of the streets that you convey either consciously or subconsciously in your music?
The jealousy part of it; everybody is cool until you have something they want. Nobody has your back in the streets. They want to do that and live that life forever, I was cheating myself by thinking that way. I was so different and I wanted to be like the cats I grew up with. Growing up in New Orleans, even nerds have guns; it’s a dangerous and different kind of place. You’re automatically kind of hard growing up there.
Your voice is so smooth and clear over the tracks and listeners are treated to a story rather than just dope beats with empty lyrics. What is Look Alive’s Story in a nutshell?
I think my story is I’m a cat from New Orleans that’s a wave, I’m dope and deep. I represent people. Not just women or myself. I’ve been in ballet, I’ve been to France, I’ve been through Katrina, was in a crazy car accident. My life has been so crazy, I gotta write about it. Its moment in time that has to be documented
On the song, “No Fear” which is featured on your CLEO mixtape, you say, “AZ, he raised me/that Nas shit was my shit/ the nigga Jay-Z coulda made me” these are some very popular east coast lyricists that you’re paying homage to. Are there any southern MCs that you’d like to work with or just admire
From the south, of course Pimp C, UGK, the original waves of the south. I didn’t really listen to Cash Money, I was kind of a conscious cat. I knew Wayne and all of those guys, so it was different. I was listening to Mos Def when Cash Money was big because living here, I already knew what they were saying. I wanted something knew. But we have Outkast, Kwimni album, my teacher even played it in class it was so important. It’s a lot like NY, in a sense that cats are always progressive. We wore everything that cats in NY wore.
Who is your favorite female MC?
I always liked Bahamadia there was this one line, as a poet, that just stayed with me: “I break out analogies like pollen did allergies. I loved it and as a poet, it brought it out of me. Lauryn Hill had me after that.
Let’s get into your mix tape Look What You Made Me Do, which cover art features a young boy clutching a gun to his bare chest with your name written on his chest. What was the inspiration behind the title?
Everyone knows I’m a conscious cat even though it’s on the raunchy side, but being a conscious cat, I fight society making me some kind of way. Clutching the gun but not wanting to use it. And it’s a young black male with the gun and he is the most endangered species. And when cops pull me over they see me as a black man, or they deal with me as a black man and don’t know til later that I’m a woman
What is something that fans can expect with this mix tape?
Cleo was a similar struggle, but its life after Cleo, writing as a revolutionary and writing what’s going on in the world. And my personal story as a conscious cat and also about being caught up. I don’t like those guys that separate themselves from the people. I hate those kinds of cat. A lot of people wouldn’t follow the consciousness because those dudes are kind of corny or you gotta be a certain kind of cat. I talk about drinking, my addiction to women and I still talk about black man god. That balance.
I notice that we can find more snippets of classic 90’s movies. In Cleo we had Set It Off, here we have Poetic Justice and Juice, what are you getting across with these particular scenes on the track?
I act, man. I like powerful things. Before “TKO” where Pac was yelling at Janet Jackson [in the Poetic Justice Snippet] I feel like everybody remembers that relationship. That’s just a street dude, that’s his language. And what he’s been through being hurt by who he was hurt by. What has women been to him? We might not know, only see his actions as a result of those women. I’m an aggressive cat, I be having these arguments and I still be feeling like I care about this person. Post slavery mentality, black women treat men like little boys and black men are afraid to love a black woman.
This mix tape features one of my favorite songs, “See a N—“ which is featured on the closing credits of the hit web series, Between Women. Where else can we find your music?
Music is on my website and Soundcloud,
You have a documentary called The Book of Ali coming soon. What can you tell us about that?
It’s kind of like what I was talking about the journey of my life. A story which hasn’t been told from a non-sexual point of view, just as a person. I’m just Look. I’ve been blessed that people can deal with me as me. I don’t give people different versions of me. I talk about where I come from, some very personal things. I talk about my music and where my career is going. I’m single, so it will talk about my dating life a little bit.
Are there any upcoming performances in 2016 that fans can look forward to?
Hell yeah, they can go on my website and I post all my little shows up. I got some new music coming. I’m working on like 7 mix tapes I’m trying to flood the game. I want to be the best, not best female and not best male, just Look Alive. I want my music to speak for itself. To be black, you have to work hard, to be a woman you have to be harder but to be black, a woman and a lesbian I HAVE to be the best. I want to be the hardest working cat out here.