Premiering on RAIN, Majorlilkween (Alex Elizabeth Ljadov) drops the music video for “Can I b Honest” feat. Flipp DiNero. This is the first single released in anticipation of her debut album, Prada Princess, out later this year. Falling somewhere in-between pop and trap, Majorlilkween is breaking barriers with a blend of sophisticated choreography and stunning visuals in the “Can I b Honest” music video. Not to mention the coming eight track album that is sure to make waves in the music industry.
Born in Estonia, Alexandra Elizabeth Ljadov quickly made a name for herself in the fashion industry where she modeled for the covers of Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel, Odda, and M Le Magazine Du Monde. Being in front of the camera is a natural place for Majorlilkween, but it’s her artistic vision, dizzying choreography, and her cadre of unexpected collaborators that keeps her there. We caught up with the quickly rising artist in the following exclusive interview to talk about the new drop and putting together her very first album, Prada Princess.
Mark Benjamin: Tell me about the early days of putting together your first music as Majorlilkween.
Majorlilkween: I made my very first song in Miami in 2017 during an Art Basel trip. I stayed at a house with a bunch of creatives who worked for Swizz Beatz’s event, No Commissions. During the evenings, we played around in the studio and had fun. My friends encouraged me to freestyle and the rest is history. I was instantly hooked with the creative process of making a song from scratch.
I’ve always been a performer ever since I can remember. As a kid, I threw shows with my bestie in Estonia for my parents and grandparents – we even charged them for tickets. I remember learning all of the latest Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, and Hannah Montana songs and choreographing full hour long performance extravaganzas. We even built our own stage in my grandpa’s backyard; it was pink and fabulous.
MB: One thing new fans might not know about you is that you’re originally from Estonia. What was it like growing up there and how was the music scene different from New York?
M: Growing up in Estonia, we had a few girl bands who were serving: Ice Cream, Nexus, Vanilla Ninja. Naturally, I looked up to a lot of local and international early 2000s badass girls. We went to see Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet tour when I was nine years old in my home town, Tallinn. We saw Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Ball when I was twelve. The sets, the music, the costumes, the lighting, the dancers was everything to me at the time. I was so inspired as a little girl, because I’ve always been into makeup and pulling looks which was not normal at regular public schools.
Growing up, the Estonian QUEER scene barely existed, and in the public eye, it was considered taboo. Kids were always sheltered from it, so if you were a little kween like me who did not give a fuck, you were going to get bullied. But to see someone as huge as Gaga or Madonna be so authentic was really freeing and encouraging.
The main difference in the music scene I’d say is that a big caliber concert happens in Estonia every few years as opposed to New York where it is super regular to see your favorite artists. And, obviously, there is also a lot more opportunity for really anything in New York.
“The “Can I b Honest” music video is set in a virtual cyberspace strip club but it’s also a video game. Making the video was an extremely long process. The animation itself took over two months to complete.”
MB: Your sound is inspired by trap but, interestingly, also pop icons such as Britney Spears. What were your earliest intros to trap music? Pop music?
M: My earliest introduction to pop music was when I was around six or seven years old, as young as I can remember, really. My mom got me a pink MP3 player for Christmas and she had a lot of Madonna, Britney, Cher, Spice Girls, Destiny’s Child on it. I’ve always been into the iconic girlies because that’s all I ever knew. When I started using a computer and YouTube, I discovered Nicki Minaj aka the Queen. That was probably around the time I was eleven. “Itty Bitty Piggy” was it for me and most likely the first rap song I ever heard. I became a barb instantly and thirteen years later we are still going strong.
I used to recreate Nicki’s music videos, my mom probably still has them on a hard drive or something, and they are most definitely super cringey. During my first modeling trip to London when I was fifteen, that’s when I had my heavy trap only phase, because that’s what my roommate listened to. For a few years, I only listened to Kendrick Lamar, ASAP Rocky, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Jay Z. “Bitch don’t kill my vibe” by Kendrick was my eternal mood during that time.
MB: This is your first cohesive debut album following singles such as “Venom,” “25 Playboy,” “Mojito,” “Baggage,” “CDG,” “VirgHo,” “Lil Star,” and now “Can I b Honest (feat. Flipp DiNero).” Tell me about these singles. How was it different putting together the vision for a full album?
M: All of those singles I made were based on how I was feeling in the moment. For “Mojito,” I had just watched Shakira & J Lo’s Super Bowl halftime show and I wanted to make a latin influenced song with some Spanish in it. When I made “VirgHo,” I was going through a heavy LES Lola (RIP to Lola) club phase, and I wanted to express that in a song. “CDG” I made during quarantine. I was dressing up as an e-girl every day listening to a lot of Grimes in my bathtub while being depressed, so I put all of that in a song.
All of those songs were a relatively fast process, but with this project I really took my time. I had a full project a year ago, but I decided to change it completely. Only two songs from back then made the cut. Making Prada Princess, I wanted all the songs to be connected and tell a story that flows sonically. I’m hoping to take the listener on a journey. I have a lot of different types of beats from trap/hyperpop, dancehall and even alternative on the project, but they just flow and work as a whole. I’m also spilling some tea and sharing really personal stories like on “Track X”, I’ve never really spoke about this publicly, let alone released such a personal song, but music is a very therapeutic outlet for me and hopefully it will inspire other women and let them know that it’s okay and they are not alone.
“I definitely did have a few breakdowns along the way, but the destination is what matters and we most certainly arrived.”
MB: As a model, fashion has long been a part of your life but you’re also taking that into your music now. How would you describe your style? What are your go-to brands and designers?
M: I describe my style as high fashion in the bodega. I wear a lot of high class runway stuff mixed with streetwear items. I love a good sneaker, but I also love the must unpractical and extra dress that I probably need help putting on. Go-to brands: Prada (OF COURSE!), Prada Princess, aka, Miuccia, will forever be my favorite designer of all time. I’ve also recently gotten into Versace. I think they will have a moment soon like Fendi did a few years ago. Some of my other favorites include Vivienne Westwood, Chrome Hearts, Area has been killing it, and Murder Bravado has really cool jeans.
MB: Tell me about the collabs on the album. Is there a song you’re most pumped about performing live?
M: The first single “Can I b Honest” features Flipp DiNero which is my first major collaboration with a mainstream artist. It happened randomly. I was supposed to collab with a smaller artist from Cinematic, but my boy 1000Word$, a legendary NY hip-hop polaroid photographer, especially in the underground scene, got me an opportunity to collab with Flipp instead. It all happened really fast. We got the green light for the collaboration and not even twenty-four hours later I had the verse from Flipp.
I was really excited because he killed it. I could tell he took his time. He gave me a verse, hook and a bridge, that never happens! I also have a verse on “Devil Wears Prada” from Brooklyn native, Rockstar Payso who has been making a lot of noise in the recent years; he is a real rager. Lastly, I have a very unexpected collab with The Musalini, an underground artist who has been co-signed by Ice-T. 1000Word$ set that up for me as well. The song is called “Big Pimpin” and it has a nostalgic yet futuristic sound.
I am super pumped about performing “Can I b Honest” live because the choreography is just giving what it’s supposed to give, but also “Big Pimpin” because for some reason I always go back to that song and listen to it. It has a special place in my heart, maybe because it’s about me overcoming depression during quarantine.
MB: Do you have a dream collab?
M: Obviously, Nicki or Britney, but if I’m being realistic I would love to collab with Grimes, BIA or Princess Nokia. I have been dying to collab with the girlies. Hopefully, after this project, I will get the opportunity to make bad bitch music with some bad bitches.
MB: Tell me about shooting the music video for “Can I b Honest?” It’s such a great video. What was the idea behind it?
M: Thank you that means a lot. I literally put my blood, sweat, and tears into it. The “Can I b Honest” music video is set in a virtual cyberspace strip club but it’s also a video game. Making the video was an extremely long process. The animation itself took over two months to complete. It’s a collab with a super talented girl named Stacie Ant from Berlin.
Fun fact, we also referenced a lot of Galliano’s Dior looks in it. The actual shoot took two days, but it was extremely difficult because both studios had no A/C and we shot it in the middle of July in Los Angeles wearing fall looks while doing full choreography routines. But I still had the best time ever and I can’t believe that the idea I had in my head that no one initially understood turned out exactly how I imagined it. I definitely did have a few breakdowns along the way, but the destination is what matters and we most certainly arrived.
MB: Choreography is really important to you. It shows in your music videos. Tell me about how that comes together and the work that goes into it.
M: When I have a performance or video coming up, I hit up my choreographer Melissa Ashley Diaz and send her the setlist or song. We talk about the direction we want to go for and the space where the shoot or performance is happening. Then we plan the first rehearsal where she shows me what she has come up with. If I like it, we learn it. She is fire, so I always love what she does.
Sometimes, because our body shapes are different, certain moves she does don’t work on me so we have to readjust or change it, but that’s just part of the process. For “Can I b Honest,” we started rehearsing three weeks prior and we did about two rehearsals a week. In the beginning they were longer, about three hours, but towards the end we polished and cleaned up moves so the rehearsals were shorter. I like to be super prepared and on point so I always want to get as many rehearsals in as possible, that’s that Virgo energy.
MB: If there’s something you want your fans to walk away from with your music, what is that?
M: I want them to know that if you work hard anything is possible. Go out there and achieve your dreams. There is always a way. It’s okay to feel sad and depressed sometimes, even bad bitches have their moments, but most importantly, I hope they are inspired to live their most authentic lives.
Director: So Krispy
Creative Director: Alex Ljadov
Animation: Stacie Ant
Editor: Alex Ljadov
VFX: Alex Ljadov, Alexander Slaughter
Stylist: Star Burleigh
Hair: Devante Turnbull
Makeup: Andre Marie
Choreographer: Melissa Ashley Diaz
Dancers: Melissa Ashley Diaz, Sheena Marie Cruz, Star, Tetchnica
Male model: Munzir Mukhtar
Photographer: Lourenzo Smith
Stylist: Star Burleigh
Hair: Devante Turnbull
Makeup: Andre Marie