Thanks to the likes of Soundcloud and Pitchfork there is now a seemingly endless parade of new artists and ‘ones to watch’ for music fans to wrap their ears around. This is by no means a bad thing, however, keeping up with every new artist can prove more than challenging and some of the most talented end up slipping through the cracks. That’s why we here at Venue are launching our ‘Artist of the Month.’ It’s pretty simple really, every month we’ll be profiling an artist we think has contributed significantly to their genre or scene but doesn’t get the credit they’re due. They may be new, they may be old, the only thing that’s guaranteed is that they’ll be good.
So, without further ado allow us to introduce our very first ‘Artist of the Month’: Mykki Blanco. Mykki is the feminine alter ego of Michael Quattlebaum Jr. and is one of the most talented artists in the emerging genre of LGBT or ‘queer’ rap, alongside le1f and Cakes Da Killa. Her debut EP Mykki Blanco and the Cosmic Angels received some muted attention from the blogs and put her on the radar of the more open minded Hip-Hop heads. However, its lead single Wavvy off of her second EP Cosmic Angel: Illuminati Prince/ ss that broke her onto the scene. Produced by East coast darling Brenmar, Wavvy is a huge ‘fuck you’ to the homo/trans phobic attitudes of the mainstream rap world, which sees Mykki asking, “What the fuck I gotta prove to a room full of dudes, that ain’t listening to my words ‘cause they staring at my shoes?”
Mykki Blanco is important because she carries on the lineage of artists such as GG Allin and Marilyn Manson, subverting aspects of mainstream and perhaps ‘problematic’ culture to empower those denied a voice, in Mykki’s case the LGBT community, which, as the YouTube comments on her songs prove, still face an uphill struggle within Hip- Hop. A prime example of this is Haze.Boogie. Life in which Mykki utilises the tradition of braggadocio to put down those who seek to dismiss her as a rapper merely because of her gender-fluid status. Aware of the controversy her music causes, Mykki asks, “How she get in here? What’s that bitch doing here? What’s that faggot doing here?” mimicking the abuse thrown at those who are seen as outsiders within certain circles of hip hop fans, before asking the listener to “get [her] a staff so [she] can herd these fucking sheep.” Politicised Hip- Hop is increasingly rare. As the genre has risen to mainstream status the conventions of it have changed; Jay Z doesn’t need to rap about the struggle of life on the streets now he’s making millions. However, the struggle is still real and in an age in which music is celebrated as a form of escapism, it’s refreshing to watch artists such as Blanco reclaim the conventions of Hip-Hop for themselves and their own empowerment.