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CONVERSATIONS: CAKES DA KILLA

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All photos by Anna Selle

Over a glass of white wine and in between his two sets at Lincoln Calling this past weekend, Cakes Da Killa answered a few of our questions about being a theater kid, keeping spaces safe for the LGBTQ+ community, and owning your voice in hip-hop.

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Why is it important for there to be strong, proud, queer voices in hip-hop?

I just think anybody’s voice in hip hop should be strong. Hip hop is originally about being yourself. Me being gay, I couldn’t make hip hop and not be myself.

How has your queer identity influenced your writing and performance?

I think my identity has influenced my stage performance and my confidence. I have this campy-ass personality and I don’t take myself too seriously. And that’s just from watching people like Bette Midler and being that “theater gay.” It influences my lifestyle and the way I carry myself.

Did you do a lot of theater growing up?

Of course I did, every gay has to. Since I was one of three boys, I always got cast in the main male part. Whenever we did Dreamgirls, Raisin In the Sun, I always just wanted to play the girl, and that never worked out.

What’s your dream role?

Blanche in Streetcar Named Desire.

What did you like about doing theater?

I just liked the whole process of it. The performance, and the leading up to it. The rehearsals, getting dressed up.

What have you carried over from your days in theater to your role as a rapper?

I definitely am more mindful of crowds, unlike other rappers. A lot of rappers don’t break the fourth wall. It’s like, ‘I’m cool, just watch me jump up and down on stage.’ I know I’m cool, I might jump up a little bit, but if you’re not having fun then we’ll change the song or do something different. There’s comedy and theatrics.

What do you want someone to experience when they listen to your music or come to shows?

For listening to my music, I don’t really set a restriction on it. Whatever you take away from my music is what you take away from it. From the live shows, I just want people to feel like it’s just okay to be chill and be yourself. It’s okay to fuck up. I know I put on a good show, but it’s not about being polished. We’re all adults, let’s just have fun.

What’s the importance of safe spaces?

As someone who volunteered at the LGBT center in high school and college and was that black gay kid in academia, I think safe spaces are very important. Anywhere you go as a person in our community should be established as a safe space. You should always set the tone. Even if you don’t appreciate someone’s lifestyle, don’t disrespect them and don’t put your hands on them, and just stay to yourself.

Do you feel like as an artist you have a responsibility to set that tone of a safe space on stage?

I think it sets the tone anyway. When I started out, I was performing at straight parties and straight bars. Someone might be homophobic, but who wants to gay bash the kid that’s on stage and making them laugh? You might think you don’t like gay people, but it’s in your family, it’s in the world, just get over it.

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