By ED English
While it’s become a standard to lead the genre of pop-rap with ass and attitude – think Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea – relative newcomer Cakes Da Killa brings up his rear with bootylicious beats that are buttery and bass-driven.
In a colorful assortment of music videos, Cakes bats his eyes, flashes a smile and blows kisses – all while demurely proclaiming that you only want him for his “goodie goodies.”
Yes, he’s a gay rapper in a straight man’s game. But the game, says Cakes, is changing fast, and his effortless flows have something to do with that: “And I spit that shit that make a homophobe a hypocrite,” he teases on the track “Get Right (Get Wet).”
“That’s just straight people for you sometimes,” says Cakes, on people thinking hip-hop is exclusive to one group. “When I started rapping in high school, I saw my straight friends doing it as a way of getting attention. I did it as a joke, just to be like, ‘Yeah, I can do this too, and I am better than y’all.'”
He’s here now. And he’s good. Deal with it, Cakes’ attitude seems to declare. When he performs at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit on Feb. 22, he says to expect nothing less than a classic rap show, “but definitely a rap show that’s not like the current landscape of rap shows.”
Like an ever-evolving recipe, each of his shows are tailored to fit his multifaceted fans. “To me, it’s just kind of like therapy,” he says of performing. But at the center of it all is Cakes, and no matter who you are, he’ll be leaving you hungry for a second helping. That’s just what he does. He opens minds.
“I don’t really think about it like that. I know there are gay people who are actually in the music industry, and there are probably a bunch of rappers who are gay but not openly gay,” says Cakes. “For me it’s not really about that. It’s more so being respected as a writer.”
Born Rashard Bradshaw, Cakes Da Killa seems to have been created out of occupation necessity just to fit the rapper’s raunchy style. “I just needed a name that combined my sugary demeanor / Hello Kitty look with my rap style. So I just decided to go with ‘Cakes.'”
He adds, of course: “And I have a big butt.”
A Teaneck, N.J. native with degrees in fashion studies and journalism, the 24-year-old Cakes says he only recently thought about becoming a serious recording artist when he got the opportunity to record in college. Since his debut, he’s garnered comparisons to rappers Nicki Minaj, Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim.
“Unlike any other openly gay artist, I have the biggest potty mouth. So I think it’s more so the content (that gets me compared to) Lil’ Kim. Which I get completely.”
The content of his rhymes run the gamut from the explicit tops and bottoms of gay sex to Grindr hookups. It’s not for shock value, he explains, it’s just his life.
“That’s just the reality of the situation,” Cakes explains. “To me sex is not really raunchy. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sex. I’m just talking about things adults do. I don’t touch on topics that I (can’t) speak about from firsthand experiences.”
As a black gay man, this gives Cakes an arsenal of words to play with lyrically. He writes about the struggles of being black and gay, remaining mindful of his many worlds.
“Even the N-word – I am pulling myself away from using that word in my lyrics because I don’t use that word in my day-to-day vocabulary. So why should I feel the need to just put it in my raps because I am a rapper?” he explains. “With ‘faggot,’ I don’t know when I’m going to be able to let go of that word. I am trying to use it less and less. But because of the nature of rap music and the nature of the type of content I talk about, faggots are just going to be called faggots if they try me.”
Understanding the complicatations of taboos and labels, Cakes still believes people should only be able to label themselves.
“People (should) identify themselves the way they want to identify themselves. It’s not my job to put a label on someone because they may fit my definition of that,” he says, explaining he doesn’t identify as a “queer” artist. “So even though I may fit that mold in your world, that doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what I want to answer to. If people went through their lives just focusing on themselves as opposed to being so quick to label other people in their life, the world would be a better place.”
So, then, what does Cakes label himself? Well, that’s easy: “I’m an old-school butch queen, that’s what I am,” he says, a title that rolls off the tongue.
“It melts in your mouth, too.”