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By: Hollie McGowan

Rashard Bradshaw, a.k.a. Cakes Da Killa, refuses to be boxed in by the label “queer rap.” “What I do is a mixture of other musical genres like electronic and club, but that doesn’t mean it should have a queer label attached to it,” he states. “I touch on my own experiences in my music and don’t water down my content, but that doesn’t mean what I’m doing can’t be compared to someone who is straight. The dance floor is neutral and so is my music.”

The man does have a point. Despite the need of both music journalists and mainstream hip hop artists to separate and classify anything that may be counterculture to its rigid boundaries and guidelines, art and music should be about nothing more than individual self-expression.

Since the birth of his career, Bradshaw has been sized up and tested by those who have sat comfortably in the heteronormative world of mainstream hip hop. Yet even in the face of hip hop radio heavyweights, Ebro Darden and Peter Rosenberg, his response was simply, “I’m a rapper that happens to be gay. There is no ‘gay mailmen.’” His raw talent and no-fucks-given attitude earned him a place within the New York hip hop and club scenes and has been on a steady incline since he first started roughly six years ago.

He has been doing so well in fact, that October of last year saw his debut album Hedonism come to fruition despite previously mentioning that he was going to leave the hip hop industry altogether. The album itself proved to be a confirmation that he is exactly where he should be, regardless of the labels placed on his music by the public.

“Hedonism was a full retrospect of all my favorite elements from my past projects and a nice testimony to where I am in life now mentally,” reflects Bradshaw. “I definitely showcased a lot of growth lyrically without forfeiting too much of what made the fans fall in love with me in the first place.”

Working on the album also gave Bradshaw more scope into the production side of making music in a studio environment. “With this project I was a little more hands on with arrangements and sounds than in previous projects,” he mentions. “Normally I just take the beat for what it is, but this time around I gave myself time to let some beats work around my message and form around the bars. I pick all my beats by following my gut. My ear is all over the place and it shows when I put a body of work together.”

Struggles with hip hop classifications aside, being a rapper connected to the LGBTQ community of New Jersey and New York has provided him with a platform to voice his feelings on the marginalization of both LGBTQ and POC groups within EDM. Last year also saw Bradshaw performing and being a part of a panel discussion about the subject at a TED talk in New York. “I was asked to speak by Mixmag. We touched on the lack of diversity in EDM music which oddly enough was put on my map by POC and LGBT. When you go to these festivals the lineups are usually missing representation of women and POC and that’s unfortunate.”

With the success of his debut album and his current position as a respected rapper, Bradshaw is continuing to push forward. “I’m working on my deluxe version of my album and features here and there. I’m also writing my follow up album. I have my hand in few other projects too. I’m never not working.”

mykki-stunt-queen-tour-square-image-for-socials

Cakes Da Killa performs live at Fortune Sound Club on Tuesday, February 28th. Tickets are available for $17 in advance.

Originally published on BeatRoute Magazine.

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By: Hollie McGowan

If you asked Michael Quattlebaum, a.k.a. Mykki Blanco, how they felt about being labelled a “queer hip hop artist” five years ago, you would have been scoffed at. Progressive changes in culture and society need to start somewhere and today Quattlebaum can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“A lot of people now really feel empowered by the term,” acknowledges Quattlebaum. “A lot of people now say, ‘Like any label, it gives me a place. Now I can go to the show.’ One of the unique things that I am most proud of [is how artists like myself and] Big Freedia, Le1f, and Zebra Katz created a fan base and a subgenre of music that people [from] all over the world [can strongly] identify with. So I must accept that while I do find it ridiculous, a lot of people need it and [that’s why] I don’t knock it anymore.”

Accepting the term “queer rap” is only one of the many challenges that Quattlebaum has had to deal with over the years. Coming out to the public as HIV positive was also a major step the artist took in the face of stigma, opening yet another door for those who still live in fear of persecution.

“When you start to have a public platform and people know things about you, the idea of keeping certain things a secret becomes very stressful and shameful,” explains Quattlebaum. “The more people know something personal about you, the more they feel they can connect to you on a deeper level. And where I thought that so many people would publicly shun me, the opposite happened. That whole experience of coming out publicly as being HIV positive completely changed my idea of how people can be. I don’t think I really believed that people could be that compassionate and that good.”

Opening up about their personal struggles continued to give way to more inner transformation and revelation which eventually lead to the long-awaited release of their debut album, Mykki. “When I started working on the album I was like, ‘You know what? I have to start making this album about everything in my life because I’m looking at my career and there’s a lack of intimacy,’” they say. “I wanted the album to be intimate and decided that we weren’t going to do any concepts. I wanted people to know my personality and understand how I really feel, not necessarily how they see me on stage or in a video. So that’s what I sought out to do.”

Showing their true personality is definitely something that automatically comes across in the album. Many of the lyrics and poems cut straight to the point of what really lay at the heart of their deepest desires of genuine love and human connection that anyone can relate to. As far as Quattlebaum is concerned, what else is there to life than being honest to oneself and the rest of the world about who you truly are. “Like, what are you going to do?” they laugh. “This is what I’ve had to do, you just keep making interesting work. One of my goals has always been is to infiltrate the mainstream with cool ideas, but also never be boxed in by just that aesthetic.”

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Mykki Blanco performs live at Fortune Sound Club on Tuesday, February 28th. Tickets are available for $17 in advance.

Originally published on BeatRoute Magazine.

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By: Vanessa Tam

Peligro Tropical is one of the most unique global dance parties you’ll ever experience in Vancouver, maybe even the world.

Translated, Peligro Tropical morphs into “Tropical Danger” and features an electric combination of genres from cumbia futuro and dancehall to dem bow, baile funk, moombahton and reggaeton. “Peligro, to me and the team, means a chance at being able to showcase a variety of cultures through global club music,” explains event co-founder and resident DJ Dr. Seiz a.k.a. Mario. “Being born in Guatemala, I’ve always been around very high energy percussions and rhythmic melodies and have been lucky enough to grow up with many different musical influences throughout my childhood.”

Celebrating over two years of tropical parties, the team is excited to be welcoming Peligro’s first out of town guest, Rizzla from the label Fade To Mind. “Rizzla is a producer we’ve looked up to for quite some time now,” Mario shares. “When I heard he was going on tour, I thought it would be a great opportunity to put on a show for our city and showcase an amazing artist who has always pushed the envelope to broaden the musical taste of his listeners. Rizzla’s music is a perfect blend of club sounds mixed Caribbean and Latinx influences.”

Try something different, experience a little tropical danger and celebrate a different side of club music that you might not be familiar with, you may just find out that your new favorite tune created somewhere on the other side of the globe.

Peligro Tropical

Peligro Tropical with Rizzla takes place in the Fortune Sound Club Special Projects Space on Friday, January 27th. Tickets are free with rsvp.

Originally published on BeatRoute Magazine.

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