Netflix star Leïti Sène is set on dominating Barcelona's rap scene
As the ‘Elite’ actor and musician releases his new track ‘#SpanishFeet’, discover more about the young talent.
Photo courtesy of Leïti Sène
Born and raised in a small town just outside of Barcelona, Leïti Sène remembers car rides into the city with his Senegalese father well. They were soundtracked by the likes of Tupac, Snoop and The Game (“I have very cool parents,” he tells us), which provided him with the musical education he credits for shaping his creative output today. After gravitating towards the world of dance — Leïti started when he was young and by 14, he was teaching classes — he embraced singing just a few years later.
These days, the 22-year-old multi-hyphenate is perhaps best known for his acting. A role as closeted gay student Malick in season three of Netflix's wildly successful and very murderous teen drama Elite saw him beamed into homes across the world. But it’s his music — made in collaboration with the Barcelona collective Cutemobb he founded with his friends — that remains his focus. After a few years of experimenting with sounds courtesy of producer pals iseekarlo and Bexnil, his 2019 album JOËL marked a serious shift in attitude and it soon became clear that a confident, ambitious project was underway. 2020’s TATIMU MIXTAPE further cemented this.
So what’s Leïti’s music — laidback rap set to sunny, dreamlike production — all about? Freedom, it transpires. “My music expresses all the thoughts that have something to do with people's freedom,” he says. “I think we are in a moment in human history where our rights are being taken from us. Right now it’s a work in progress, but it’s music that helps you be free and helps you connect with yourself. At least that’s how it makes me feel.”
Today, Leïti is releasing his new single “#SpanishFeet” which he says sees him “showcase my underground side”. Inspired by three years spent living in the same house as his producers, he speaks his truth documentary-style. “I wanted to show who we are, so people can understand us better. I speak about how I feel, how I see the scene and my position within it.” The video is a big post-pandemic summer mood; a season which Leïti has big plans for. “I’ve always had big plans,” he confirms, “and I’m waiting for the perfect moment to do everything. This summer, my biggest plan is to release the mixtape; I’ve been wanting to drop it for so long.”
Check out the video and get to know Leïti, and his plans, a little better via these 10 fun facts.
1. Leïti’s big influences are Young Thug, his city and Arthur Rimbaud
“Young Thug has influenced me a lot on a musical level and also the fact that he wants to make everyone that surrounds him shine, which is something I can relate with my team. That’s why we created Cutemobb. Something else that has really influenced me is Barcelona. In my group of friends, there are people from all over the world: Filipinos, Russians, Madagascans, Black people, white people… all these cultures have given me a lot. And lastly, I think I get a lot of influence from the poètes maudits movement. I got an Arthur Rimbaud book as a present when I was younger, and there's a poem that reminds me of the way I see life.”
2. He reckons Barcelona’s creative scene is the best in Spain
“From Morad and Bad Gyal to Rosalía… all of them were born here. Barcelona is a city that has the capacity to receive different artistic movements and give them visibility. At the moment, there’s a lot of people doing music, painting and film. I think the industry here is quite powerful, which is something that it’s been proven on a historical level as well.”
3. Post-Elite, Leïti is taking a break from acting to focus on music
“I’m focusing on the music. Everything related to acting is on standby until there’s a project that I really love. The working days when it comes to acting are really intense and you can only focus on that, so I definitely want to get back into it at some point if my main projects like music and Cutemobb aren’t left out.”
4. He started Cutemobb with his three best friends
“Cutemobb is not just a music label but an artistic collective of fashion designers, graphic designers, videographers, gamers, stylists, musicians, producers… and more to come. There’s also a management team, which I think is super important. Cutemobb is something that’s never been done before. The reason we’re so close is because our desire to work together began with a friendship. All of the members were friends before they started working together. In the beginning, it was only four of us and then more people came along. We just wanted to give all the members a platform to professionalise their projects.”
5. His forthcoming JÖM Mixtape is full of features from Spanish artists
“This next release is really important for me. These 12 new songs are completely different and I’m really excited for everyone to know and see this new place I’m at mentally and get to know me better. It’s a compilation of collaborations with my favourite artists in the Spanish scene. I’m an artist that’s always changing and this is definitely the next evolution.”
6. JÖM means ‘honour’ btw
“I’ve been going through some stuff this year that made me wanna go back to my roots, to Senegal. In the end, I think we’re all nature, and we’re all the same and that we have to go back and connect with ourselves and where we come from.”
7. Leïti and his dog have a very special relationship
“He is my astral protector. He is the one sent by God to channel my energies. I take care of him in this world and I give him food, and he protects me in the other, I know it. He is my new love, he is my new son. I have only had him for six months but I can no longer live without him.”
8. He reckons his music might be a good soundtrack for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
“I’m a very fanciful person and I believe in a magic world; more magic than they let us believe. There’s something very honourable and pure in the family that’s starving and suddenly there’s something so magical that the kid gets to enter the fantasy world where Willy Wonka lives. I see myself like that honestly. I see myself narrating all those realities.”
9. Not so fun fact: Leïti is diabetic
“It’s given me some problems all my life. I didn’t take care of myself, but I’m better now.”
10. He has big plans for his music going forward
“I think there’s some stuff that we have to claim — ideologically and politically. My music has to be militant against all this, against what the governments tell us. History has proven that politicians have always lied to people, and that’s what I want my music to be about; that’s what hip-hop is about. I only talk about money, drugs and women because it’s the way that I’ve experienced freedom in the society we live in, but I’m aware that the world is much bigger. There are more ways to live.”
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