Mykki Blanco

Punk-rap gender terrorist shakes up hip-hop


MYKKI BLANCO and DJs Auntie Dionne, ItsMattLangille and Patrick McGuire at PLAY (1032 Queen West), Friday (October 26), 10 pm. $12. PDR, RT, SS. See listing.


Mykki Blanco was well versed in counterculture by 17. Growing up in North Carolina, the rising rapper wrote poetry and short stories and devoured books on Duchamp, Cocteau, the Gutai group, punk rock – any subject outside accepted societal norms. The former child actor born Michael David Quattlebaum Jr. also attended college open-mic nights at 12 and founded a performance art collective at 15.

“From a really young age, every member of my family always called me creative. Everyone,” she explains. “That was the initial step in building my creative confidence.”

Now 25, Blanco is barging into hip-hop after spending two years gestating her gender-fluid MC persona in New York’s gallery scene. On the single Wavvy, she pairs terrifyingly jagged club beats with snarling rhymes. She promises to lighten the mood somewhat on club-friendly mixtape Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss, her first proper rap release, which follows a droney industrial EP that came out earlier this year.

“I’m preconceived as such an outsider to hip-hop that I almost feel like a terrorist to rap,” she says.

Blanco is also a gender terrorist, switching up her style between prissy queen and skeezy goth dude.

“My mom is like, ‘You need to pick one look and keep it!’ I was like, ‘But Mom, I’m not Katy Perry. I’m not Rihanna. I don’t need to keep one look and have that be the look people identify me with. I want people to know that Mykki Blanco is the wild card.'”

Although taste-making critics are paying attention, the urban music press isn’t. Blanco’s publicist recently pitched her Haze.Boogie.Life video to hip-hop outlets, and they all passed.

“I know they’re turning it down because there are parts of the video where I’m dressed as a woman,” she says. “It makes me feel sad for them, because I wonder how long my own people – how long black media outlets – are going to continue to ignore homosexuals in the media unless it’s in this negative, sensationalized way.”

But doesn’t being a wild-card gay transvestite punk-rap terrorist preclude mainstream acceptance?

“Let me put it like this: everyone wants acceptance, and I do want acceptance, but am I willing to compromise for that acceptance? No. Am I willing to make my image more masculine? No. Am I willing to basically change anything about myself to become more accepted in those circles? No, because I don’t like giving the heterosexual world that much credit. But, you know, acceptance would be nice.”

Interview Clips

Was Frank Ocean’s ‘coming out’ note a game-changing moment for hip-hop?

Download associated audio clip.

Mykki Blanco explains the importance of the pronoun ‘she’:

Download associated audio clip.

Mykki Blanco on working out her aggression and anger through music:

Download associated audio clip.

music@nowtoronto.com | twitter.com/nowtorontomusic

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