Bridging the gap between hip hop and New York’s vibrant LGBT culture, 24-year-old rapper Cakes Da Killa makes the perfect diplomat. He speaks candidly about his unique position in the genre, which when juxtaposed with the ferocious, hyper-sexual fire he spits over bumping house beats, makes for a complete picture of a burgeoning artist with a bright future. We were thrilled to sit down with him in the heart of Bushwick before his show at (le) Poisson Rouge to chat about his upcoming record, visibility of gay artists in hip hop, and the freedom of not giving a fuck:
When did you start making music?
Recording? Probably four years ago. I started writing music maybe like six years ago? But it was just fun before I got into the studio.
What made you start doing it?
The writing was just because I was bored and I was in college and I wanted to do something for fun. The recording, um, someone just gave me the opportunity, because I used to make videos and upload them on Youtube, and they were like, “You should really just record,” and I was like, “Okay!” And ever since then I’ve just been a recording artist.
What rappers did you listen to growing up? Like what were you into?
I actually didn’t listen to a lot of rap growing up, I used to listen to like house, disco, funk, like a lot of other genres, but a lot of the rappers I admire are people like Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliot, Dipset, Busta Rhymes, like the creative rappers basically.
What other kinds of art influenced you?
A lot of movies, I watched a lot of like independent films, a lot of foreign films, they’re really cool. Art, fashion inspires me a lot. Life, growing up, paying my bills, and gentrified Bushwick is a little influential to you know, get the money [laughs]. So yeah! Just everything basically.
In a lot of what I’ve read about you, you’ve been compared to like, camp, and the underground drag scene of an older New York. What do you think of that kind of comparison?
I mean I definitely draw from a lot of those people, like the freedom of not really giving a fuck. You know, people like Divine and RuPaul. But I don’t necessarily just stick to that, like I like to draw from a lot of different things, but it’s good that people catch the influences I guess.
How do you think you fit into hip hop as a genre?
I don’t know, I don’t think I really fit into hip hop as a genre, but then, I think hip hop as a genre is going through a weird, like, puberty phase right now? Because it’s still a young genre. So I don’t really think about like, my place in it, I just stay true to me, and what I want to do.
That sort of leads into my next question. Do you see gay rappers becoming more of a force in the genre? I know it’s still somewhat controversial.
I mean, I don’t think any openly gay artist who’s making rap music really thinks about the homophobia, or the pros and cons. I think they just do it because it’s what their heart tells them to do. So I mean, I don’t think we’re really phased by the opinions of like, seasoned rappers, or even like a younger rapper, because we just have to pay our own bills and do what we want to do.
That was another thing I was gonna ask, like I sometimes avoid asking questions like that, because I feel like perhaps artists don’t like to get pigeonholed.
The pigeonholing can get kind of annoying, but I also am really aware of the importance of visibility of openly gay people, especially openly gay people of color. So I mean, it doesn’t really annoy me…sometimes it bothers me, depending on the way that it’s handled, but I also realize that growing up there’s not a lot of openly gay people, especially openly gay males, that people can look up to? I mean, people of color. So I think it’s good that we can talk about it.
No for sure, that’s really great. What are your plans for the rest of 2015?
Well I just did an interview for BET, I can’t wait for that to come out. That’s gonna be cool. I just did an audition for a movie, I really hope I get the role.
What movie is that?!
I can’t really talk about it, too much, but the director kind of reached out to me because he wanted me to read for the part, and he kind of was like really excited about it, about what I did, so hopefully that works out. But you know just still working on music, I have a single coming out in June, with Hot Mom USA, that I’m excited about, and just working on my album!
Are there any artists that you’d really like to work with?
Yeah! Everyone who wants to work with me, but definitely Nicki Minaj. Hopefully I’ll get to that level, where me and Nicki can do a song.
That would be very cool! Well, are you excited for the show?
Of course! I’m excited about all shows, because all shows lead to free alcohol and paychecks! I really love performing so I really can’t wait.