Motherhood suits DaniLeigh. At the last stop of her “4 Velour” tour at the Novo in Los Angeles, which featured special guests Dreezy and Ty Dolla $ign, the singer radiated joy and positivity with her 1-year-old daughter, Velour, at her side in a matching Bape outfit.
The Def Jam artist recently returned back to the scene after taking a break from social media for the first half of 2022. The hiatus was precipitated by a very public spat in November 2021 with the father of her child, rapper DaBaby. DaniLeigh, kicked out of his home in Charlotte, North Carolina, put her response into music. The seven-track project “My Side” starts out with “Dead to Me,” her open letter to DaBaby, and ends with “Velour.”
She spoke to Variety about being back on the road, life as a new mom and being signed to Def Jam.
Just before the “My Side” EP dropped, you told Def Jam you didn’t know if you wanted to put it out. What was going through your mind?
You know, it’s a real personal project. I was scared. I don’t know, it was a very back-and-forth thing for me. But I did it and I felt good releasing it, and helping other people with their situations.
What were your hesitations?
Just more press — I just didn’t want it to be so negative. It’s already so much around me, the story, so I didn’t want to just hone in on it. But it was cool; I think we did it right.
You worked with Rodney Jerkins on the project. What were you looking for, sound-wise, that he delivered?
Real R&B. The production was so good. It was so simple, but hits. He’s legendary; he’s done [Destiny’s Child’s] “Say My Name,” Whitney Houston. … Every beat he played for me, I was like, “yup yup yup.”
What did you learn from the sessions with him?
The people I was writing with, they were really dope. Young R&B kids [where] every record was flowing so easily. We were all on the same page. We knew what was needed: short EP, short tracklist. Just get to the point, and moving forward.
Since 2018, Def Jam has had three different CEOs. How is that for you as an artist?
It’s good, honestly. It’s been different experiences with each CEO, but I think it’s all growth. Each one was amazing and I always felt like they supported me. I really like Tunji [Balogun] though, so I’m excited.
What have your conversations with Tunji been like?
Really good, very personal. I like that he’s thinking about my overall career versus just music. I feel like he’s a real music guy, so it’s cool. He’s done some legendary stuff, too, signed some legendary people. So I’m excited.
How did taking a break from social media help you?
Personally, I have learned to think before I speak. And that when you make a mistake, take full accountability for it — really try to understand how you might have hurt people, and show through actions that you’ve learned to be more mindful. The internet is a whole other monster that can be really tough and unforgiving so you really can’t focus on it too much. It’s most important to show that you’re doing the work. It was definitely needed, to just stay focused and only focused on positive vibes.p
You used to run Prince’s Instagram. Do you think Prince would have been on TikTok?
Yeah, probably. I could see him doing some funny things, for sure. [laughs] He really liked Vine, that’s actually how he found me. If I would’ve really gone in on it, I would have been a whole Vine star. That’s where it started, but I never really liked it either.
You mentioned press earlier; what is your take on cancel culture?
Personally I have learned to think before I speak and that when you make a mistake take full accountability for it and really try to understand how you might have hurt people, and show through actions that you’ve learned to be more mindful. The internet is a whole other monster that can be really tough and unforgiving so you really can’t focus on it too much – it’s most important to show that you’re doing the work.
There’s been a lot of talk about DaBaby allegedly being blackballed because of homophobic comments he made onstage in July 2021. Do you think playlist curators and editors wield too much power?
I’ll start by saying he is a great dad. Curators have a really tough job as do artists to be socially responsible. I think that if an artist shows growth and continues to make great music, they can take that power back.