Written by William Oliver
Dropping her first few tracks, videos and mixtape over the past two years, cross-dressing New York based rapper, Mykki Blanco, has been taking the underground world by storm. An international cult following has emerged from the high profile art parties she first played, Santos Party House, Art Basel Miami Beach and Le Baron for example, and with features in Interview, Bullet, V and i-D to name a few, plus a debut EP just around the corner, Mykki is poised and ready to make a serious impact on the mainstream.
The brainchild of poet, writer and performer with a hard-core punk past, Michael Quattlebaum Jnr, Mykki is a teenage-girl lyricist inspired by the likes of Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Lil' Kim. She's fearless, outspoken, educated and fond of a mean bass driven production style. Mykki may have previously been filed under the Queer Rap genre but that is one tagline that will undoubtedly wear off as time passes. Her tracks are far too good in their own right, without being attached to anything that could be deemed novelty.
"Everyone has an introduction to the world," says Michael as we chat before his recent gig at London's Birthdays. "What did they call Poison, Motley Crew and Guns n Roses? They called them Hair Metal. What did they call Mudhoney and Nirvana? They called them Grunge. That Queer Rap term doesn't bother me, because one day I will have put out so much music and done so many different things and played with so many different nuances, that term will be irrelevant".
To some extent, that has in fact already happened. In general the media caught on to Mykki before there had actually been that many tracks released, intrigued by his enigmatic stage presence and, undoubtedly, the fascination a rapper in a dress attracts. Subsequently the majority of 'cultural' pieces have already been written, leaving room for journalists to now respond to the sound itself. "I'm in a really great place because so many people, from the New York Times to the Guardian, they've all written their gay rap piece. So now they can't write it anymore. You can't say the same shit again," he explains.
Over the next few months Mykki will release the debut EP and three new videos, not bad going for an artist that has only just signed to a label. The sound is being developed into something slickly perfected, he's working with renowned producer Sinden, and the image, well the image will no doubt be fine tuned within an inch of its life. "I look at the people that I relate to in rap history and I see myself and I'm like 'it's cool you don't have to rush', I just keep working hard and build my own mythology through my songs and releases," he explains.
Mykki Blanco is very much, in the vein of David Bowie or Marc Bolan, about the synchronicity of sound and style, and the erudite and aware Quattlebaum is one man, and a teenage girl, completely in control of that combination.
Watch Mykki Blanco's latest video, Kingpinning, here
Follow Mykki Blanco on Twitter
Check out Mykki Blanco's site
Photography by Robin Mellor
Tags: Mykki Blanco