“Gay Rap” and Why Mykki Blanco’s Changing the Rules of Music

Mykki Blanco may have built a following within art communities and within the hipster scene during the last couple of years, but something that separates the aspiring 25-year-old from the rest of the alternative music community is that Blanco, also known as Michael David Quattlebaum Jr., has a fighting chance at becoming a globally known name.

There are some things that are clear about Quattlebaum: he is a “young, gay, black urbanite reciting lines about discrimination“, as described in a profile by Interview Magazine, he is also a published author with his own book of poetry, From The Silence of Duchamp to the Noise of Boys, and believes what he does to be a form of “shock rock”.

With Mykki, most of these same lines are blurred. Mykki is often referred to with the “she” pronoun, though Quattlebaum has said the thought of Blanco is based around androgyny, and, as seen in the music video for “Wavvy”, below, the idea of Blanco seems to exist in-and-out of drag.

Blanco has also so dismissed the label of “gay rapper”, given the trend in past months of young gay men finding media attention within rap music, from the likes of artists like Zebra Katz, Cakes Da Killa, and Le1f. Though many LGBTQ figures within the arts have criticized the media’s focus on gay rapper’s sexualities, while also dismissing the thought of “gay rap” being considered a possible genre of music.

Even where Blanco falls under the trans-umbrella seems unclear. Many media outlets refer to Quattlebaum as a “transgender rapper”, but the idea behind Mykki is often to referred to, by Quattlebaum, as “cross-dressing”.

This is where the appeal of Mykki Blanco makes itself clear. In a world where there is a suggested idea of “gay rap” as a genre, young gay artists seem to be rebelling at the thought of maintaining easy appeal.

Instead of being packaged in a box with clean, cut lines of what their appeal is – this case being the idea of one’s sexuality encompassing all of who an artist is – artists are forcing the world to adjust to who they are, and not the other way around.

Also, in what is claimed as a post-racial, progressive-on-sexuality world, artists like Mykki Blanco can drive and control all attention by simply refusing to accept being content with hand-me-down labels of what their artistry is.

If gay rap is a genre, then what is “straight rap”? Is there not still a problem with accepting sexuality present within society if it draws such focus that it completely alters the perception of whatever a person within the LGBTQ umbrella does?

And, as seen with Blanco and many others dismissing the “gay rap” title, society is being called out on what they can and cannot forcibly adjust and organize to their needs. Isn’t the idea of believing all rap made by gay men to be inherently connected, a bit similar to the thought of some generalizing sameness to all gay men? Which, for those who don’t know, is considered a form and shape of homophobia, no?

Michael David Quattlebaum Jr. is not a “gay artist”. He is a poet and a person extremely gifted when it comes to words. Mykki Blanco is not a “transgender rapper” either. Mykki Blanco is a riot grrrl, an urban fashionista, a dedicated performer and quite possibly the most exciting new artist to come out of 2012. Mykki Blanco does not change for the world. The world will change for Mykki Blanco.


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