Cakes Da Killa: More Than Just a Queer Rapper
While music fads come and go, true talent tends to stay. Initially grouped within the LGBT rap ‘movement’ a few years back, Cakes Da Killa has worked to establish himself as something greater. With a movie in the works and maybe even a makeup line, he is certainly bigger than any trend — he is here to stay.
I’m in muggy Bushwick while the 24 year old is in Berlin, having just played an iD magazine party. His laugh is infectious, even through a questionable Skype connection, and it’s easy to see how his energy translates on stage. I caught up with the rapper to chat about Red Bull, makeup, Berlin and LGBT issues that are bigger than gay marriage.
You released #IMF in February and now you’re touring Europe! How’s that going?
It’s going cute, I just played an iD party like 2 days ago. But I’m just staying busy, writing, working.
Are you planning any other releases this year?
Yeah, I’m working on a project I’m doing with Red Bull and then I’m gonna be doing my own album. The Red Bull thing is probably gonna be 2 singles, basically buzz tracks, building traction for the album.
Will there be videos for the buzz tracks?
Yeah, cause Red Bull has a lot of money! (laughs)
I saw that you’re sponsored by MAC Cosmetics. Could you talk more about this partnership?
That’s my newest sponsor, so right now I just get a lot of their stuff, cause they just like what I do. We’re collaborating on my Afropunk show, they’re gonna help me with some of the visuals for that cause I’m doing something with Grace Jones. But I’m tryna make it last, hopefully come out with a Cakes Da Killa lipgloss or something cute. (laughs) Cause MAC has a good relationship with the LGBT community. The fact that RuPaul was one of their first covergirls is next level.
You’re very conscious of how you engage with the LGBT community.
Yeah, but my whole thing is I think that the LGBT community, we get grouped in a lot. We don’t have the same privileges or the same rights, so we don’t have the same wants. Everyone was so gung ho about gay marriage and that’s not an LGBT POC issue. I know there’s gay black men who wanna get married and lesbians who wanna get married but being a person of color there’s more issues like kids getting thrown out and having to sleep in the Village, or the people who are forced to do sex work. Not to say everyone that does sex work is a bad person but there are people who don’t want to do sex work or they just do it to survive. That’s a bigger issue to me than marriage.
How do you feel about the gay rap movement that blew up a few years back?
When I first started making music, I didn’t know that I was gonna be taken seriously cause I was just doing it for fun. The first interview I did was a Pitchfork interview and I didn’t know what Pitchfork was, so for me telling other people about the other musicians that I know was a big deal. At first I didn’t care cause I was just having fun and I was getting press for it so I was like “oh this is amazing!” But the more I was working and coming into myself as an artist I realized that I was kinda being made into a small figure in this big trend piece. And trends have expiration dates. I had media outlets saying ‘oh, we don’t wanna hear about Cakes cause the gay rap thing’s over,’ but that’s just how the media works. It gets annoying and now it’s getting to the point where I just wanna talk about the music, but I do respect the visibility aspect.
Sweet. I read that you’re only rapping for now, but you’re interested in exploring other things. Could you elaborate on that?
I’ve done a lot of freelance writing for magazines, but they don’t really like to pay people a lot so that’s what I do on the side side side. I’m gonna be dabbling in some acting in the future, so that’s gonna be cute. I do party promoting when I’m in New York, hosting and shit, like creative typical things people do to pay their rent.
Can you tell us more about your acting endeavors?
I got offered the part in this movie that this company is putting together – I’m really excited about it but things aren’t cemented just yet, so I don’t really have too many details. It should be cute if everything goes through. It pays my rent.
You’ve stated that Lil’ Kim is one of your biggest influences because of her brashness. Are there any other influences that shaped you as a performer?
Well she’s one of them, Missy Elliott…if I had to pick a female rapper that I actually #Stan for it would probably be Missy Elliott. She had the Wonder Twins behind her, Hype Williams, June Ambrose, and they were perfect for her.
Who would you like to have behind you?
Fuck, I don’t know… that’s a good question. I think Nicki would be cute. I think Nicki Minaj would be a good mentor, cause to be a female and be dominating in the industry like she is is really next level.
Sweet, what else has influenced you?
Besides hip hop, I watch a lot of movies, like indie films. I’m inspired by a lot of things. Traveling is one of the bigger things that inspires me cause I just get the experience to talk about. It’s hard to write living in Bushwick.
What’s your dream destination?
I really wanna go to Japan. But it’s weird cause you romanticize places and then you go there it’s completely different from what you think it is. The two places I’ve always wanted to go to in my life were Japan and London and I went to London and it was not what I expected. I made it more of a fantasy. The only other place I would live in is probably Berlin.
I read how an average 1BR apartment in Berlin is only $300 a month.
Yeah. But the thing is everyone is moving to Berlin, so it’s probably gonna be getting way different. Hopefully everyone moves from Bushwick to Berlin so I can pay my rent.
Nice. So let’s talk about the music. What’s gonna be on the next album?
It’s not like my new album, it’s my first album, so that’s kinda different. I’m Soundcloud generation and everyone is putting out free music, producers don’t know anything about not using samples, so now I’m just getting back to basics and building things from scratch and actually meeting with producers to do it organically. I’m used to just putting out tracks and that’s not for the long term.
Are there any producers you’re excited to work with?
I think Red Bull is gonna have me working with exciting people cause they’re tryna get me to work with a mainstream producer. I don’t think I can say who they’re contacting, but the people they’re contacting is like ‘wow it’s a gag!’ The people I’m working with on my own project, I’m collaborating with Jeremih, a boy named Boy Genius, just a lot of people. By the time I get back to New York I should be able to know what the climate of this project is. This is the first release that is gonna have a big press push, cause it’s coming out with a label so it’ll be a lot. I’m gonna have to balance it with the movie cause the schedule keeps getting rearranged but it’s just all in a day’s work for a faggot tryna make it I guess.
Photos by Sam Evans-Butler