Enimal is far more than just Issa Rae’s brother, he’s a recording artist in his own right. The rapper, singer, producer, engineer, and actor is here to show the world what he can do — while putting on for his hometown of Inglewood.
Enimal is his real name Lamine backwards, and you may recognize him on Instagram as Enimeezy. Regardless, he’s hungry, determined, and ready to be a mainstay in the rap game.
Crazy part is, Enimal is the one who taught DJ Mustard how to use Reason to produce beats. He was also part of Los Angeles hip-hop group The Fly Guys, who all were lead actors in their own mockumentary produced by his sister Issa (which was her first project before Awkward Black Girl). Enimal would go on to land a recurring role on her critically-acclaimed HBO show “Insecure” on Seasons 1 to 3.
Most recently, he released his brand new project titled Locked In, hailing 7 tracks for each day of the week during quarantine. Beyond the music, Enimal was featured in the new Starbucks commercial and also played Jazmine Sullivan’s love interest in her “Insecure” visual featuring Bryson Tiller.
AllHipHop caught up with Enimal via Instagram Live to discuss the early days producing, his new project Locked In, and what it’s like working with his sister.
AllHipHop: How was your birthday? How’d you celebrate?
Enimal: It was interesting, I was in the house. [chuckles] I made a little trip to the studio, had a session real quick. In the house for the most part. I saw a couple people, real lowkey. I Zoomed with my family and everybody. I got drunk as f##k at the house, people brought me different desserts and cakes.
AllHipHop: How’ve you been holding up in quarantine?
Enimal: Man, I miss outside! Creatively, it’s great. It’s invigorating. Creatively locked in, really focused on who I am and what I really want to do. Stuff I want to create because I’m not influenced by going out, being like “damn that song’s going up, I need to make a song like that.” I’m doing my own s##t. Been able to focus on my production, get stuff done that I’ve been lagging on. My bro Cozz, he’s locked in and focused. I engineer for him.
AllHipHop: I didn’t know you engineer for Cozz! Were you a producer first?
Enimal: I’ve been engineering all his s##t since he first came in. I guess I was a rapper first? It all happened at the same time. Honestly I started freestyling and rapping in middle school really. When I started taking it seriously, I started producing at the same time too just making beats. Got Fruity Loops, the demo version of FL Studio. Was mobbing on that for a year.
AllHipHop: You actually taught Mustard how to use Reason, that’s crazy!
Enimal: Crazy. He used to pull up on me at my pops’ house when I’d be doing sessions with Mann. He’d always be in the cut watching me make beats. He said “damn, I want to learn how to do that.” I’m like “bro, get Reason. I’ll tell you how to do this s##t.”
AllHipHop: Was it super easy for you to learn?
Enimal: No, it wasn’t. I had Reason on my computer for 2 years before I opened that motherf##ker up again after the first time, because I was so confused. I finally learned it, and that’s been my go-to ever since. I love Reason. I’m self-taught in everything. I taught myself engineering, production, everything. I produce 99% of my stuff.
AllHipHop: “Toxic” is a vibe, who or what inspired this one?
Enimal: Honestly, a meme. Someone sent it to me, it said “toxic dudes always want you to come over and talk in person.” Then it said “nah, I’m not coming over because you’re going to F me.” I started dying. [chuckles] I thought “damn, that’s lowkey real.” I wrote, my mind starts spinning. I start making this beat. I was in a mood, in a mode. Put my thoughts on the mic.
AllHipHop: This song’s more R&B than your usual.
Enimal: I even put that in the genre, I put R&B. I was about to put hip-hop, I’m like “that’s a lie.” It’s a full-on R&B song. I’m waiting to see what happens after everyone gets off this Drake hype. I wanted to explore my sound and do what I wanted to do sonically. More specifically now, I’m so zoned into only myself. Outside influences don’t exist to me right now. I’ve always loved vocalizing and singing, but it’s more natural for me to rap. I was in my mood, in my feelings. In my quarantine mode, thinking about s##t. Replaying situations. Contemplating life, that’s what this quarantine got me on. Got everybody on. Looking like a caveman thinking about your life.
AllHipHop: You’ve always had that beard though.
Enimal: I know, but my mustache is growing a mustache now. s##t’s crazy.
AllHipHop: Who gave you the nickname “panty melter”?
Enimal: [laughs] Shout out to Bossip, they’d written an article about me. They called me Issa Rae’s “panty melting brother.” I’m like “thank you for the outstanding journalism. [chuckles] World-class, outstanding publication.” My sister was grossed out by it: “I hate this with every fiber of my being.”
AllHipHop: How was your experience on Insecure? You were on 3 seasons.
Enimal: I’m watching it as a fan this season. I wasn’t acting this year on it so I get to sit back and watch it as a fan, it’s a whole different experience. I’m on the edge of my seat, I don’t know what’s going on. She’s Spoiler K, she will never spoil a single detail ever. She hates spoilers, for real. Even when I was involved, she wouldn’t tell us. I’d read the script that I was on or go to a table reading, but never would she give away the season ending. It was a real need to know basis.
AllHipHop: How has it been working with your sister?
Enimal: Honestly when I’m on set, it’s not really working with her so much. It’s a production. When she’s acting, she’s in her acting mode. She’s not overseeing every shot. She’s in the trailer ducked off while I’m doing my scene. It’s cool, it’s amazing to see her be a boss on set and know this whole s##t is for her.
AllHipHop: I know she’s always been supportive of your music career.
Enimal: Oh, major. She’s always throwing bones, I’m always helping her out with her projects. Did a reading the other day. It’s a blessing to have someone in a position to be so influential in your career. I’ve done commercials, but that’s my first major TV role.
AllHipHop: How’s it feel acting versus doing music?
Enimal: I love the acting checks because they come on time like a motherf##ker. I love acting. When you watch it, it seems so fun because what you’re watching is what you see. Behind it, so much goes into it. That’s the mindblowing part for me, how they shoot s##t out of order. How they can fake shots: “turn here, we gon’ shoot this side.” That was cool to watch.
AllHipHop: Was it long days?
Enimal: Oh my gosh. It got better though. As the seasons progressed, they tightened up. It took 2 days to shoot the first scene that I was in, in the 1st season. I was cool off that one. When the check came, “2 days of something, fasho!” Season 3 when I got my Rollie on, I’m like “alright here we go, let’s get it!” These motherf##kers got me in and out in 5 hours. Damn, this scene would’ve took 3 days a couple years ago. How they really elevated their production level is amazing, it’s super cool.
AllHipHop: Inglewood has recently gotten shine because of your sister Issa and D Smoke. Talk about your roots in the city.
Enimal: Inglewood is where I set up shop. My first studio that was my spot was in Inglewood. I was there for 5 years, really ingrained myself in that community. I had all kinds of dudes from the neighborhood pulling up, from all over the city. That was my location, I grew so fond of that area. I worked there outside of music too. I lived there for 3, 4 years. It’s really its own little city, its own community. It’s different. People from Inglewood don’t say they’re from LA, they say they’re from Inglewood. It left its mark, because our grandparents grew up there. My family grew up right around that area, it’s amazing to me. I’m interested to see how it develops, that’s all I’ma say. [chuckles]
AllHipHop: What can we expect from your new project Locked In?
Enimal: I made 7 songs in 7 days up in this quarantine. Really caught a wave. For me, creativity comes in waves. When I catch one, I have to ride it out as much as I can. Whether it’s a whole album or a couple songs, it varies. This one, I caught a major wave sitting here by myself, high as f##k. Bored as f##k. I’m focused, locked in the house. A lot of different vibes on there, me experimenting a bit. Really getting comfortable though, really in the pockets of focused on the grooves of how the music is flowing. That’s really what I was focusing on: how I’m saying it and how it’s going to get perceived. I’m really interested in seeing how people take to it, I think they’ll like it.
AllHipHop: What can we look forward to?
Enimal: I got a compilation tape with my label. I started a label with my cousin called Padyna Records. This quarantine thing threw everything for a little wicked loop, but it’s on the horizon. Check out Locked In out now. Boom, f##k with ya boy.