Cakes da Killa on Queer Rap, Writing His Own Music, and His New Album ‘Black Sheep’

It’s taken a long time — 15 years after Nicki debuts, three decades after Lil’ Kim — for us to be in a place where there’s not just one big hot female rapper at a time. How far are we from that moment for out queer rappers?

When I first came out, people underestimated the power of the gay dollar. Queer people didn’t want to invest or support queer talent because of internalized homophobia and shady antics. Like, period. There was a time when you would go to a Pride festival and you would only see older acts or drag queens. We would see the Martha Washes of the world, which is fine. In the past five years, there has been a shift in the younger generation. They want to see themselves on stage. They want to see queer talent.

As far as it being like a plethora of queer artists, like on the same scale as how we have a lot of these women doing their thing now, I don’t think that that will ever happen. To garner a queer fan base is one of the hardest things to do. But once you got them, you got them. Once you get them, you’re an icon. And specifically talking about people of color, Black people, Black queer people — everyone’s a performer. Everyone’s a rapper. Everyone can sing. Everyone’s a designer. So for us to champion you and put you on that bitch, you have to levitate. You have to speak multiple languages. Like, you have to be it. We’re just very critical.

As I listened to Black Sheep, a word that kept coming back to my mind was “victory lap.” It felt like you had done it. Do you feel victorious in your career now?

I don’t feel victorious in my career, but I do feel very pleased with my career. I am very proud of what I’ve done, but I don’t feel like victory will ever be it because as an artist, we always feel like there’s a constant need to create. I was just watching a Mariah Carey interview, and even she feels like she’s on shaky ground in the music industry. I’m like, “You’re Mariah Carey!” But it’s just the industry we operate in.

I think I am the most comfortable I have ever been, which is saying a lot because I’ve always been comfortable in myself, which is why I was able to make the music I’ve made. I used to not give a fuck, then I started giving a fuck, and now I don’t give a fuck again.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Black Sheep is out March 22 via Young Art Records.

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