Englewood, N.J., isn’t necessarily home to hip-hop, let alone a gay club scene. Yet here is gay MC Rashard Bradshaw, better known as Cakes da Killa.
The hometown Jersey gent began rapping as a high-school student in 2011 and captured the attention of area producer Stixx. He went on to mixtape fame (if not fortune) with “Easy Bake Oven, Vol. 1” through Stixx’s Downtown Mayhem label. Cakes told OUT magazine in 2012 that he came out in third grade and it was no big thing.
“This is just me being me,” he said then. “People make it sound like it is controversial and revolutionary, and that’s weird to me, because in hip-hop you have people glorifying negativity like killing people and not taking care of your kids — that should be scandalous. That should be what we talk about. An openly gay rapper shouldn’t be breaking news.”
Since that time, Milan, Le1f, Miles Brock, Mykki Blanco and House of Ladosha have all become headliners in the LGBT rap movement, with da Killa staying on the raunchy Lil Kim-inspired mixtape trajectory with the famed “The Eulogy,” a remix EP for “I Run This Club,” his epic “Hunger Pangs” and last year’s “#IMF.” He’s now working on his debut full-length album — to say nothing of a sponsorship from MAC make-up — and will bring the rude and the raw to Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown on April 29.
PGN: Who were your primary influences coming up? And I’m not just talking about hip-hop, but also fashion, design and film.
RB: A lot of indie films, anime and manga fueled my aesthetic. The underground vogue ballroom scene in New York City had a huge impact on my flow. My main inspiration is life though.
PGN: What sort of hip-hop club scene has Englewood, N.J., had? For that matter, what sort of gay scene does your hometown have?
RB: Englewood doesn’t really have a club scene per se, or maybe there is, but I just wasn’t that interested. For me, I always made my way to New York to party. There are gay clubs in Jersey, but they are not really alternative; instead, they’re more top-40-based. That was never my scene.
PGN: How did you score that MAC tour sponsorship? That’s huge.
RB: MAC has always thought outside the box and supported creative types. I remember seeing RuPaul’s Viva La Glam campaign and feeling like anything was possible. My relationship with MAC came about after they contacted me for a sponsorship via email and we’ve been cool ever since.
PGN: What image did you want for yourself as a rapper/producer from the start? You don’t seem to take yourself crazy-serious.
RB: I don’t take myself too serious, but I do put a lot of time and effort into everything I do. I consider myself a writer first, performer second.
PGN: Do you see what you do — as a musical artist or as a gay partner — as part of a lineage? Perhaps a hidden lineage of gay men in hip-hop?
RB: I just do me and walk in my truth. How the public digests the content is their decision.
PGN: Do you know “Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood”’s Milan Christopher and Miles Brock, and do you think they made a mess for the cause of furthering who gay men are within the hip-hop continuum?
RB: I think everyone has their own path. What’s meant for me is meant for me and no one has the power to take anything away from me that’s mine.
PGN: Have your ever felt prejudice as a gay man in hip-hop?
RB: I’m sure I’ve misspent opportunities but any issues have never been direct that I can think of. Everything sort of happens behind the scenes.
PGN: Considering that hip-hop is a life and a lifestyle, do you lead as a hip-hop presence, a gay man or a black man?
RB: I’m a fully realized person so I would think each part plays a role in my uniqueness. I’m just myself overall.
PGN: Some would say that, with marriage equality, the LGBT struggle is over, but then recently we’ve seen some of the most radical anti-LGBT laws in Tennessee and other states. What say you?
RB: People need to just mind their own business.
PGN: What are you doing as part of your upcoming live sets and your debut album?
RB: I’m working on new music, acting and living out my 20s while it’s still acceptable to be a mess. I can’t really gauge how it will change the world but, it’s an honest look into the ups and downs I’ve been dealing with post-25 years old.