Meet Lay, the Badass Brazilian Fashion Killa Making Waves in São Paulo Rap

Lay. Photo by Vinicius Cavalcanti

Née: Laysa Moretti
Raíces: Osasco, São Paulo
Sounds like: The Lil’ Kim of Brazilian trap
You should listen to Lay because… Her remix of “Panda” might shake you harder than the Daddy Yankee, Cosculluela, Almighty, and Farruko version.

There are certain moments in the video for Lay’s remix of Desiigner’s ominous trap ode to the white BMW X6 where she stops your heart. Lay walks an empty city highway that one imagines was cleared just for her, out of respect for her force. A sudden pivot and low crouch reveal her thong through a missing panel of her black, rippling Missy Elliott pants. She tugs down the front zipper of her cropped jacket with a menacing stare. They are forceful reminders of who is in charge, and the fact that Lay will use the tools at her feminine disposal to enforce her authority. You can find more of these electric shocks on her 129129 EP, which was released earlier this year and boils with calls to arms and tales of women gone bad.

Lay’s sound pulls from trap, ragga, and Brazil’s beloved baile funk for a final fusion that invokes not just U.S. hip-hop’s proud assemblage of bad girls, but also dancehall influences. It sounds fresh, and it should — before 129129, her musical résumé was comprised of a single she made with the EP’s main producer Leo Grijó. Fans of her foul-mouthed, uncompromising lyrics and stage presence will be unsurprised to learn that before her debut in the recording studio, Lay was a teenage riot grrl and writer of poetry dedicated to the sacred feminine.

She’s a certified multi-hyphenate, and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that she represents the total package. Lay’s solid, vicious bars and intense charisma are often accompanied by the cunning, gender-skewing, and finely shaped wardrobe of stylist Eduardo Costa, a member of the Brecho Replay collective. The two work in tandem, creating images that resonate based on their color palette and audacity. Their innovation has not gone unnoticed; Lay has appeared with fellow Brazilian rappers MC Carol and Karol Conka in a commercial for the Avon makeup empire. One can’t help but think that more designer co-signs will follow.

But sartorial speculation is not meant to detract from Lay’s much-needed presence on the Brazilian music landscape. After all, swagger is half the story of hip-hop, and rappers have been using their look to make waves since the get-go. In the era of Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, and PXXR GVNG, it’s all but required to have a stylist on staff if you’re serious about your craft. Let the woman werk, as hard as she works.