Shake the Room is a new interview series in which we highlight rising rappers you need to know. For the inaugural edition, we spoke to Brooklyn native Lola Brooke ahead of her new track, “So Disrespectful.”
Like a modern-day Lil’ Kim in her prime, Lola Brooke exudes a fiery New York energy straight out of the late ’90s and early 2000s from every inch of her petite 4’9″ frame. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, and Meek Mill, the Bed–Stuy native kicked down the door in 2022 with her viral hit “Don’t Play with It.” Now signed to Arista Records, Brooke is set to keep the ball rolling with her new song, “So Disrespectful.”
“First, it was 50 Cent when he had ‘Wanksta.’ Then Lil Wayne came and I remember listening to ‘Cannon’ [from Dedication 2] back to back to back to back, just so that I could catch the punchlines,” Brooke tells Consequence about her biggest influences. “I wanted to learn on my own, to understand what exactly he was saying. I even pulled up the lyrics to understand it as well… Then, Meek Mill, it was just the aggression, the hunger. Not knowing him, you can tell what he’s been through and the places that he’s going.”
Elements of each rapper come through on “So Disrespectful,” in which Brooke lets off “42 shots” in tribute to Brooklyn Dodgers pioneer Jackie Robinson over a knocking beat from Reefa Music and Gyard. Gator Season is in full effect, shining through with the hardened attitude that has caught the attention of Lil Kim herself and Future — who each brought out the hometown hero at recent shows — as well as Missy Elliott.
“They was telling me that Future wanted to bring me out at the Barclays, but I thought it was a joke,” Brooke remembers about her New Year’s Eve performance with the I Never Liked You rapper. “So I’m going around, getting my outfit together, finally pulled up to the Barclays, and I met him. I’m like, ‘This is real. Like, Oh, my God, this is really real.’ And then I just took off, but I was so fiending to get on the stage, I didn’t even let Pluto finish introducing who I was or who he was bringing out. I just heard my music and I just ran out. And when I watched the video back, I see he was like, ‘Oh, oh, woah. Okay, Lola.’ I was so excited, I couldn’t even hold it in.”
She’ll be taking on more big stages this year, including Billboard’s The Stage at SXSW in Austin, Texas next week. Brooke will also join A Boogie with da Hoodie on tour in the UK and hit a number of festivals throughout the summer. You can catch her live by snagging tickets here.
Brooke’s music career is really just getting started, but she has already begun branching out into acting with a cameo in the CBS series East New York. However, don’t expect any outside aspirations to keep the rapper from staying focused. “I know there’s more to come, there’s more to accomplish and this is only the beginning,” says Brooke.
Watch the BenMarc-directed music video for “So Disrespectful” and read the full interview with Lola Brooke below.
The energy you bring reminds me of the late ’90s and early 2000s New York energy. Where does that come from?
Honestly, I think it’s the air. I can’t even explain it enough. I’ve been born and raised in Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy. So it’s just really in me.
Do you remember when you started rapping for fun? And which rappers were you getting inspiration from?
I started rapping at a very young age, like eight, nine years old. The thing was that I didn’t even realize that I wanted to be a rapper. I was doing poetry and just writing in my journals a lot. My grandma came to me and told me that I told her that when I was eight years old.
I had nothing but Lil Wayne on my iPod. I loved 50 [Cent] and then Meek Mill was like the icing on the cake. Meek Mill just made me just go for it like, “Oh, you got to find your rap name. You got to figure out like what would be your image.” Like, “What do you want to showcase to the world?”
So was that like mixtape Wayne era?
Wayne? Yeah, mixtape-era Wayne for sure, though. But first, it was 50 Cent when he had “Wanksta.” Then Lil Wayne came and I remember listening to “Cannon” [from Dedication 2] back to back to back to back, just so that I could catch the punchlines. I wanted to learn on my own, to understand what exactly he was saying. I even pulled up the lyrics to understand it as well. So that was one of my favorite Lil Wayne songs. Then, Meek Mill, it was just the aggression, the hunger. Not knowing him, you can tell what he’s been through and the places that he’s going.
One of the first people I thought of when I first heard your music was 50. You two have that aggressive New York energy.
50 Cent is really so New York. That’s why I loved him so much because when I go to my family gatherings, and I see my uncles and things like that, or when I’m outside, just on a regular, he is what I see.
Have you spoken to 50 at all yet?
No, no, I have never even met him.
Hopefully, the way you’re going, that should not be too far away for you.
Yeah. It’s not too far. I’m being patient though.
Where does your Big Gator, Gator Season phrase come from?
I did a radio freestyle, and I said, “I’m Big Gator.” I said, “2020, I ain’t giving no favors/ My skin bulletproof, n***a, I’m Big Gator.” So basically it’s like I’m solid. You know how alligators got they skin, it protects them. I’m protected without anything. I’m just protected regardless, no matter how you dish it, and whether I’m with my brothers, whether I’m with my family, my team, or whoever. If they’re not there, I still stand strong. My fans were just like, “Gator, gator.”
Your breakout hit, “Don’t Play with It,” grew slowly, but when it hit, it really blew up. When did you realize this was going to be your moment? And how did it make you feel?
I didn’t realize how big of a moment I would have from this song. I know it would be a moment, but I didn’t know how big. When I put the song out, my intention was to just promote it just because I was a fan of my own music. So even though it wasn’t pitching — on the first release, it wasn’t pitching yet, but it still was a good song to me. So I didn’t have no choice but to keep promoting the song.
So, when it finally started to go viral by accident, I just was surprised like, “Oh, my God it’s getting bigger than New York City.” I was just grateful for it and as an artist, I just was saying to myself, consistency means a lot. I was just proud that I never gave up on the song or myself.
Was it on TikTok when you started seeing it blow up?
It started going viral on Twitter first. Twitter takes the trophy because it was there first and then it went on TikTok, and then it went back on Instagram.
Twitter’s definitely done a lot for you. I’ve seen a huge amount of support from beyond New York, like Missy Elliott. How much did it mean to you to have her shout you out because she’s such a huge innovator?
I love that Missy is a huge creator. She’s not just the artist, she’s a director. She’s everything in one — like she comes in a bundle. So for her to say that my stage presence was A1 meant a lot to me because when you watch her videos, that’s her. That’s all her, regardless of who she worked with. They’re creating a vision for her, like they’re making her vision come true.
That takes a lot because sometimes a lot of artists don’t really tap into visuals on treatment for their songs because it’d be so much to do, but she’s so dedicated that she stands firm on it. So for her to say that my stage presence was good was a blessing and I appreciate her for that.
Is that something you try to do with your music videos?
Yes, I’m really big on being hands-on with my music, music videos, anything. I’m hands-on because when you’re making music, you know exactly what you want to see or how you want to feel and what you want to show to your fans.
How would you describe the image of Lola Brooke as a musician, as an artist, as someone from Brooklyn who holds it down for New York?
My image is the around-the-way girl that’s relatable and sounds familiar, but has a new fresh feeling. It’s a familiar feeling, but it’s still fresh because it’s me, and I can’t change who I am and a lot of people that are from Brooklyn can’t change who they are as well, because we come in [one of] one.
It’s safe to say …. I got Brooklyn vote forsure, I love you NYC 🗽 pic.twitter.com/JV7Qybql2x
— Lola Brooke (@lolabrooke718) December 31, 2022
Speaking of Brooklyn, being brought on stage by Future in your hometown, can you walk me through how that happened?
They was telling me that Future wanted to bring me out at the Barclays, but I thought it was a joke. I always think it’s a joke because I don’t know, I be thinking my life is changing so, so much. But I just paid it no mind like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah whatever. Y’all people was playing with me.” So then when it was time, for when the day finally came, and then my brothers was like, “Hey, do you have your outfit for the stage? Do you have your outfit for your set? Are you good?” And I’m like, “Oh, this is really happening.”
So I’m going around, getting my outfit together, finally pulled up to the Barclays, and I met him. I’m like, “This is real. Like, Oh, my God, this is really real.” And then I just took off, but I was so fiending to get on the stage, I didn’t even let Pluto finish introducing who I was or who he was bringing out. I just heard my music and I just ran out. And when I watched the video back, I see he was like, “Oh, oh, woah. Okay, Lola.” I was so excited, I couldn’t even hold it in.
That’s definitely the biggest stage that you’ve been on. But it seems like once you got on there, you were ready for it.
Yeah, I was definitely ready for it. I’ve been waiting all my life to touch that Barclays stage and I went for it.
How have you been able to stay grounded with, like you said, everything moving so fast this early in your career?
Well, I know there’s more to come, there’s more to accomplish and this is only the beginning. I don’t get stuck on what’s happening now because I know whatever’s happening now has consequences for the future. That’s how I stay grounded. I have a dope team, I have a dope family, and they just keep me on my toes as much as they can.
We’ve been talking about this New York energy, this Brooklyn energy. That’s what you’ve become known for, except for this song “On My Mind.” Do you plan on showing more of your softer side?
Of course, because that’s who I am at home, and I’m not afraid to show it because I love love. There’s nothing wrong with it, and more than likely, I’m gonna be in my feelings as time moves on so I ain’t got no choice but to talk about it.
Let’s talk about your latest single, “So Disrespectful.” It’s what we’ve come to expect from you. What were you feeling like in the studio when you heard the beat?
The beat was knocking, so I just went and start punching in on the mic. I’ll just start doing punches. How the hook came, honestly, I think it was like a full 16 maybe, or something like that. I just was going and then I went into my verse and I picked out a hook. Put it there, came back into it. I just have fun, I just didn’t think too much about it. I was just being myself.
Is that how you usually approach recording songs?
Yes. More than likely, I just have a full verse and then I structure it. Or sometimes I will have a hook. It just depends on how I’m feeling or how much the beat is knocking to me. When the beat is so good, it’s like, “Oh, I can’t stop rapping. I just can’t stop rapping.”