As writer D. Watkins would say, exposure can be powerful. When a black kid sees President Obama, they too can see themselves as commander in chief. In 2012 I saw something I never saw ever in my life; black queer men rapping, but not chastised as a mockery -- instead being coined as revolutionaries in hip hop. Cakes Da Killa was one of those men.
I already began rapping in early 2012 but when I saw Cakes Da Killa, Mykki Blanco and Le1f slaying out of New York with different styles, confidence, and great music, they became mentors for me and many other queens. I was encouraged to do my thing as they were examples of what I could be in rap. Cakes Da Killa was one of the first rap queens I saw perform too. He was performing at the infamous and now deceased Bushwick, Brooklyn staple, 285 Kent and he wasn’t playing no fucking games. Unapologetically everything, Cakes fearlessly took the stage, spitting provocative and sexually radical lyrics on top of bouncy club tracks, as he ferociously danced across the stage, giving one of the most LIT shows ever. It’s been close to 5 years since Cakes has begun rapping in the spotlight and he has toured all over the world, been featured on VH1’s “Out in Hip Hop” and has been featured in almost every music publication ever. Enough said.
What is a memory from your youth that forecasted what it would be like living this world as a gay black man?
Cakes Da Killa: I don't think I can pinpoint one clear moment to really describe the landscape of this lifestyle. I think we as gay black men have very similar experiences in our development but there are also huge differences. For me, coming out in the third grade was sort of dramatic but like every obstacle in life, I faced it head-on and came out in one piece.
Maybe dealing with one of my early "lovers" helped me understand the complexities of attraction and the complications with male sexuality. I remember falling in love with this jock in second grade, pure puppy love, and feeling like I was his special portal to a truer reality. After a couple months things seemed off. I confronted him about it and he told me he just realized he wasn't gay. I cried on the rest of the bus ride home. This was my first taste of heartbreak but definitely not my last.
When you go back to those memories, do you think your former self could predict you being a rapper? Why yes or no? Who inspired you at that time when it comes to rapping and black music?
No, making music or rapping was never a thought. My mother's ex-husband even ran a label so rappers and the turn up were just something that was always around me but it never appealed to me. I only started rapping as a joke because I was funny, witty and it was an easy way to make straight people uncomfortable. I was used to getting attention and rap was just another hidden talent I discovered I could use as a shield to protect myself from negativity. Yes, Rashard was gay but Rashard was also cool, popular, dressed nice, always had a joke and could rap a little so the "gay issue" took a backseat and no one could intimidate me or try it.
I often become frustrated in the rap world, dealing with not only white mediocrity in music, in general, but I also think us rap queers have to work a thousand times harder. As I said once on Twitter, we not only give the best live shows, we got lyrics, flow, and are pushing the genre's sound yet it's hard for us to get representation. You, Le1f, and Mykki are definitely ground breaking in the industry but people might look at y'all and say, well the girls do have a chance, but that chance is still very slim.
We do have to work harder. This is just something that comes with the territory of being trailblazers and pioneers but we are making it look easy and I love that. I think once we realize we should be holding each other down, supporting each other, building each other up anyone who wasn't sold will have to fall in line. This goes for all artists and the LGBT consumer as well because the gay dollar is impactful. We have power. I've never looked for validation or acceptance or representation though. I am what I am and the blessings that are meant for me will happen for me because it is what it is never what it might be.
I want to know your thoughts on what gets on your nerves in the music world being queer and black and what advice would you give to those who look up to you and want to pursue rap?
Well firstly,I think using the umbrella term queer is sort of annoying because at this point queer kids have an identity, a look, and a language and some of those things don't line up with my experience. It's not queer when I get on the M train to Marcy in Brooklyn. It's banji or it's cunt. I hate umbrella terms in general, though. With music I appreciate any press I've received but media outlets sometimes don't do their full research which is why I always say LGBTPOC need to tell our own stories or we will have many more Stonewall movie incidents where our trials and tribulations are white washed for mainstream dollars.
Side note: What's your take on navigating through app dating and IRL dating?! LOL. I feel like it's so hard these days for the girls to get a date. Or it's just me? LOL. I do have this idea that you know for a long time, the girls already was finding alternative ways to hook up and seek partners, whether it's the pier or some underground club but I see these apps and shit as back door dating and feel like now the girls don't know how to deal with it and also are starting to conform to heteronormative culture. I hate that all profiles say "MASC ONLY," "NO FATS," "NO FEMMES." Like, do the girls forget who they are and where they come from? How dare they be prejudice?! And don't make me start on this new trend of black girls only dating white gays. lol. But anyway, what are your thoughts on that?
I don't do apps. I tend to fall for people I'm working with at the time. I'm big on IRL chemistry. Make me laugh over some drinks because yourInstagram follower count will not wow me. Getting a date isn't hard especially when you become this "thing" in the media and start traveling around the world. What's hard is finding a pure frequency to freak with. Something pure. Dating is complicated enough already but being black gay and a male adds so many more dimensions to the situation that can lead to some unhealthy occurrences. I'm currently happy with just being happy.
What kind of topics are interested in rapping about in your music and why?
Everything. Nothing is off limits.
Do you see rapping as a life long career? What other mediums are you interested in exploring and why?
Rap was never a career for me but it is my only profession at the moment. Making music has opened so many doors for me and I've met some really interesting people that I couldn't live without. Other mediums I'm into are nightlife things like promoting and curating, acting, writing and designing. I think I could see myself running a booking agency in the future or maybe assisting curating festivals and shows.
What's coming next?
Debut album and my mainstream takeover.