Alaya High aka Lay Lay

By Ta-ning Connai

“Be ready so you don’t have to get ready” is a motivational quote worth repeating. Even Will Smith, Rupaul, Conor McGregor and Snoop have found them worthy of retweeting. 11-year-old Alaya High wasn’t born when those words came together, yet she sure seems to epitomize them nonetheless.

Empire Records has some heavy hitters from representation to distribution… Kendrick Lamar, Remy Ma, Migos and the late XXXTentacion. And since That Girl Lay Lay (her hip hop moniker) is one of the hottest things in the game right now, they put her on their roster, now she’s the youngest artist ever to get a major record deal!

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While her rhymes are laced with cheetos, fruit loops and other childhood things, her swaggy bravado also makes her an incredible battling mate…

“You got too many teeth yeah

Your mama got too much weave yeah

I got too much steez yeah

My dad smoke too much weed yeah”

…I almost died! Lay Lay up there startin’ beef AND telling her pops biz too! But he could always say it’s “medicinal” or giggle off camera like he tends to do. All her videos are recorded in his car, with her sitting in the passenger seat, putting on her lip gloss in the sun visor mirror and making sure her edges are neat. Then the music drops and she enters the ring just like she’s ready to win, but we must remember that what we see now is not how she began. Many seconds, minutes, hours and days she devoted when she was all alone, which shows and proves you’re never too young to start making serious moves.

Click to watch Lay Lay bust rhymes at 5 years old

Watch Lay Lay at 11 years old

A post shared by Alaya High (@thatgirl_laylay44) on

Shorty wit the rhymes can accredit her sudden rise to social media buzz. From BET to The Shade Room, then re-tweets led to 4 million views! But if I was 11, I’d have to say my favorite moment would be when Fenty Beauty sent her blue lip gloss and she shouted out Bad Girl RiRi!

When I was a kid, I looked just like a boy and being goofy only made things worse. And the first time I ever saw the model Iman, it was her cheekbones that drew me in first. I ran to the mirror and stared real hard, trying to find some resemblance there. But who was I kidding, I had lost my lil mind, I shoulda just turned and walked away. I have no idea how I could’ve known to move my lamp around, and when I tilted my head, a shadow appeared and tiny cheekbones were definitely found! But tiny just wasn’t good enough, so guess what I did? Chile, my jaw would be hurting, but I sucked my cheeks in like a fish! Talking took some extra work, so I would bite down on the inside of my cheeks, and I sounded like a gigantic idiot trying to get words through my teeth. This was the beginning of my modeling dream, but Iman was gorgeous and I WAS NOT. So I kept sucking my cheeks in as long as I could until I wore myself out. Eventually I moved on to practicing poses every single day, I was doing the most, even gave up my toys, I had no more time to play!

Years went by, I became an adult and thought my chance was near, but more years passed by and even though I cried, I practiced through the tears. Then one day when I was 29 (that’s over the hill in modeling years) a photographer asked to take my pic and I was like, “Ok, what the heck.” His friend who worked for a popular publication came by, saw my pic hanging on his wall, and less than 30 days later I went from being a random chick on a wall to my big ol’ face gracing the cover of Essence magazine!

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when they are old they will not depart from it.”- Proverbs 22:6

I’d be totally amiss not to mention that my mom supported me during those times when there wasn’t a single thread of evidence that modeling was in my bloodline. But parents have the ability to see what others can’t, that’s why it’s key to highlight children’s gifts as soon as you get a chance. Yes, it’s important for kids to be kids and not have to grow up too fast, but better to be guided into success than some nonsense that ain’t gonna last.

You got kids or know a few or perhaps you’re a kid at heart? No matter the case, wherever the place, now is the time to start. Maybe you’re a teen or young adult who just wants to have some fun, just don’t let fun (or what you “think” is fun) distract you from what needs to be done. Lay Lay is having the time of her life doing what she loves; her lifetime dream will bring her much more fun ‘cause she got started when she was young.

Are you ready for what you want?

TA-NING is a former model and clothing designer who one day got the “call” to leave the fab world of fashion behind. While in Bible College, she discovered her knack for mixing her quirky style of writing with her gift to teach. TA-NING’S TELL IT TUESDAY is a weekly column that uses doses of pop culture to tear down the walls of churchy tradition, change the face of Christianity, and present it’s message in a lively way. Ta-ning resides in Santa Monica (by way of BK), is obsessed with dogs, and is an old school Hip-Hop junkie!

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