From the pioneering sounds of Geto Boys and DJ Screw to current superstars like Travis Scott and Megan Thee Stallion, H-Town has gifted many a successful rapper to the world.
These days, it’s 13-year-old rapper and Pearland native Alaya High, better known as Lay Lay, rather, who youngsters are gravitating toward. And they just may be onto something.
Sure, Bayou City rappers of old have their share of Grammys and Gold and Platinum RIAA records—oh, and literally every aspect of Beyoncé’s career—but none, to our knowledge, had a TV show with Nickelodeon.
That’s right. Earlier this summer, Lay Lay landed an overall deal with the children’s cable network to develop original content, and just a few weeks ago we learned that deal will include her very own show.
“When I first learned about my deal with Nickelodeon, I celebrated with doughnuts and Welch’s sparkling grape juice,” Lay Lay tells Houstonia, with so much enthusiasm you can’t help but share in her excitement. “I was just really excited because I always loved the shows on Nickelodeon.”
Called That Girl Lay Lay, the 13-episode comedy from Fuller House writer-producer David A. Arnold features our teenage viral sensation as an avatar from a “personal affirmation app” who manifests in the flesh after character Sadie wishes on a shooting star.
“It means a lot to me because I’m happy a bunch of young Black girls get to see another Black girl killing it in the industry,” Lay Lay shares.
In addition to the show, Lay Lay, who now lives in Atlanta, will also release new merchandise and music through Nickelodeon. But this isn’t her first foray into the music biz.
A rapper through and through, the teenager has been creating music since the age of 5, when her father, rapper Acie High, inspired her to start creating everything from witty freestyles to catchy original songs. In 2018, she made her way onto the big stage when she inked a deal with Empire—becoming the youngest female rapper ever to sign with a label at the age of 11—and dropped her debut project, Tha Cheat Code, later that year.
Soon after, came the love from celebrities like 50 Cent and Mindy Kaling, a viral appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and even an impressive performance on MTV’s Wild ‘N Out that left DC Young Fly speechless.
Through all of the fame and high praise from the industry, Lay Lay is a Houstonian at heart.
“I represent Houston in my work by always talking about it, and you can definitely hear the little bit of country in me in a lot of my songs,” Lay Lay says. “Anytime anybody hears me talk they’re like, ‘You’re from the South, aren’t you?’ and I’m like, 'Yup, H-Town for life.'”
And H-Town loves her back.
No, seriously, many Bayou City legends have shown their affection for the up-and-coming star over the years. She recently partnered with “Uncle'' Bun B for a song, and they filmed the music video outside the popular Turkey Leg Hut, where she was visited by then-Houston Rockets superstar James Harden.
Doesn't that sound like the most iconically Houston thing that could happen? We can’t disagree.