talking to cakes da killa, nyc's openly gay rap star
He's baby face sweet like ice cream cake, with flow's smooth as red velvet and skin rich like chocolate. It's Cakes Da Killa.
With an album in the pipeline and the release of Hunger Pangs Deluxe Edition, truly scrumptious rapper Cakes Da Killa won't have you kissing your teeth but licking your lips.
Combining a love for food, fashion and fellas, New Jersey's Cakes Da Killa is challenging conventions of what a rapper should be. With a uniquely dark and witty lyrical style, he's killing it. 23-year-old Rashard Bradshaw is a self-confessed mama's boy come fashion student come rapper who knows how to get turned up on stage but keep it toned down on the streets, "I'm not really a huge fashion or trend girl". With just four years in the game and three mix tapes done and sugar-dusted, his brazen sassy sound has already been compared to bonafide hip hop legends, Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown. With a fine sprinkling of star producers, he's baking it big. We caught up with him to find out how to "keep it coochie" and what hip hop means to the soon-to-be Notorious Cakes Da Killa.
Talk about your sound.
I'm a very moody artist, my sound varies depending on my mood. I think my rap style is known for being very wordy, quick witted, humorous and aggressive, but that's not all I'm about.
What music did you grow up listening to?
Anything I could get my hands on really. My aunt had an amazing CD collection and I remember going through it and discovering Alanis Morissette and Hole, which was a good balance from the usual Hot 97 broadcasting. My mother was all about Lauryn Hill and Kem, which was always the wake up and go to school playlist.
Previously you said that your mum doesn't know how seriously you take rap, has she seen you perform yet?
Her first time seeing me perform was at Afropunk this year. That was a really big deal for me! I wasn't going to let my mother see me perform at a dive bar somewhere dry humping the floor. I wanted it to be a semi classy moment (even though she probably wouldn't mind either way).
What's the story behind your name?
In the gay community your backside is called your cakes, and I have a lot of that, so it fit as a cutesy little nickname. When I think about cake I think sweet, campy, and edible, which is one side of me. The "da Killa" is a direct representation of my flow, a very drastic contrast to my sugary sweet baby face and smile.
Describe yourself in three cakes?
I would say ice cream cake, my favourite kind of cake, which defines my uniqueness. Red velvet represents my sensuality and chocolate because of my beautiful skin tone and love of black excellence.
You have a strong sense of style, but who's your style icon?
I'm really getting into the athletic look at the moment, a little more butch and sporty. Basically like a football player who isn't trying to get dirty, which was so me when I played sports during middle school. Some style icons I have include David Hockney, Erykah Badu, the dancers on Soul Train during the 70s and marching bands.
In a few words, explain what Hip Hop means today.
Hip Hop was created to give a voice to people who felt like they didn't have one, and it continues to do that. Hip Hop also makes millionaires out of people who aren't always given an equal chance to obtain that type of success. Hip Hop is very important.
Don't you think that era is over now?
Hip Hop as a genre is still very young, so I just think she's going through puberty or something, maybe even a midlife crisis.
What kind of guys do you like?
I like all types. I'm growing out of being into the down low trade type of dude though. Those guys bring way too much drama but they help inspire some good music too, so I can't complain too much.
What new tracks/mixes are you currently working on?
I'm working on a holiday release Hunger Pangs Deluxe Edition this month, which includes a lot of amazing remixes. I enlisted some of my favourite producers to rework some of my favourite tracks. I also have a Valentines Day release on the way that's all about heartbreak.
Easy Bake Oven was aimed at empowering effeminate boys, who is Hunger Pangs Deluxe Edition aimed at?
I think all my projects are aimed at anyone who can relate to them. I find that the LGBT community has a lot of internal classism and shade that I'm not really cool with, and I feel like I give little doses of confidence to the underdogs.
Are you taken seriously in rap, being openly gay?
Most Hip Hop listeners seem to have a problem with a gay narrative being showcased in rap, so I made it a point to be as dope as I can— to make sure the talent was undeniable… When I first started making music I was working with just heterosexual artists so I did feel a need to hold my own and be twice as good, to make sure my craft was never overshadowed by my sexuality.
Text Adam Fletcher
Photography Sam Evans-Butler