October 15th, 2012
“DJ, DJ, prime club minister. Play my track cause the beat is sinister,” spits Mykki Blanco, the crossdressing, weave-flipping hip-hop sensation who describes himself as the “rap game terrorist”.
In his latest video for Haze.Boogie.Life, Mykki Blanco struts down the deserted streets of Ridley Road market, waving around a baseball bat like a hallucinatory spectre from your worst K-hole. Transgressive, subversive, and possessing quite the eye for sick, bass-thumpingly heavy beats, Wonderland thinks that Mykki Blanco might just be the future of rap.
Who is Mykki Blanco and where did his story begin?
Mykki Blanco is Michael David Quattlebaum Jr. She is my stage name but I also cross dress, so I am Mykki.
You’ve got a video where you go up to taunting schoolkids and rap at them. Is it important to you to be confrontational and meet criticism head-on?
I like the role of a provocateur but I try not to give heterosexuals too much credit.
You’ve collaborated with an insanely talented roster of people – Teengirl Fantasy, Le1f, Nguzunguzu… How did you meet with them?
This is the creative global underground of the 21st century. Most of these people I’ve known for years. Driven, talented people find each other.
You’ve been called an aggressive rapper – is that aggression deliberate? Where does it come from?
Society has a very often one sided way of treating people. Disrespect and discrimination breeds aggression, if I’m militant it’s because I refuse to join a culture of insecurity.
What do people get wrong about you?
My career has just begun, people are just still discovering me, not really getting anything wrong yet.
What lyric are you proudest of writing?
You’ve been called multi-gendered, queer, trans, crossdressing – do you identify with any of these labels at all? How would you describe yourself and your identity?
Everybody’s saying that music is love.
When did you first dress as a woman and why did you decide to perform this way? Were you nervous about how a rap audience would react?
Well, I decided to cross dress as Mykki Blanco because it was a video art project and I was getting into character to film the video shorts. Then I realized how comfortable I felt, and how much positive attention I received and I kept going with it. I come from a very noise music-based, punk, riot grrl back ground. I rap because I’m good at it but not because I cater to that audience.
There’s a tendency in press to group queer hip-hop artists together – e.g. Zebra Katz, Big Freedia, etc – do you count yourself among their ranks and why?
No. I have respect for them and I think what they achieve is beautiful, but we are not alike musically. We just happen to be both black and gay.
Do you think hip-hop’s becoming more open-minded and gay-friendly?
No, but I think the media would like you to believe that.
Tell us about your upcoming album.
Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss is my debut release that will see me in varying styles being a lyrical thriller on ten solid original tracks. It’s my debut to the world about my abilities as a lyricist and entertainer. It comes out this fall on UNO NYC and it’s going to be a banger!
Cosmic Angel: Illuminati Prince/ss is out 7 November. www.mykkiblancoworld.com
Words: Zing Tsjeng