By: Hollie McGowan
VANCOUVER – Rashard Bradshaw, a.k.a. Cakes Da Killa, refuses to be boxed in by the label “queer rap.” “What I do is a mixture of other musical genres like electronic and club, but that doesn’t mean it should have a queer label attached to it,” he states. “I touch on my own experiences in my music and don’t water down my content, but that doesn’t mean what I’m doing can’t be compared to someone who is straight. The dance floor is neutral and so is my music.”
The man does have a point. Despite the need of both music journalists and mainstream hip hop artists to separate and classify anything that may be counterculture to its rigid boundaries and guidelines, art and music should be about nothing more than individual self-expression.
Since the birth of his career, Bradshaw has been sized up and tested by those who have sat comfortably in the heteronormative world of mainstream hip hop. Yet even in the face of hip hop radio heavyweights, Ebro Darden and Peter Rosenberg, his response was simply, “I’m a rapper that happens to be gay. There is no ‘gay mailmen.’” His raw talent and no-fucks-given attitude earned him a place within the New York hip hop and club scenes and has been on a steady incline since he first started roughly six years ago.
He has been doing so well in fact, that October of last year saw his debut album Hedonism come to fruition despite previously mentioning that he was going to leave the hip hop industry altogether. The album itself proved to be a confirmation that he is exactly where he should be, regardless of the labels placed on his music by the public.
“Hedonism was a full retrospect of all my favorite elements from my past projects and a nice testimony to where I am in life now mentally,” reflects Bradshaw. “I definitely showcased a lot of growth lyrically without forfeiting too much of what made the fans fall in love with me in the first place.”
Working on the album also gave Bradshaw more scope into the production side of making music in a studio environment. “With this project I was a little more hands on with arrangements and sounds than in previous projects,” he mentions. “Normally I just take the beat for what it is, but this time around I gave myself time to let some beats work around my message and form around the bars. I pick all my beats by following my gut. My ear is all over the place and it shows when I put a body of work together.”
Struggles with hip hop classifications aside, being a rapper connected to the LGBTQ community of New Jersey and New York has provided him with a platform to voice his feelings on the marginalization of both LGBTQ and POC groups within EDM. Last year also saw Bradshaw performing and being a part of a panel discussion about the subject at a TED talk in New York. “I was asked to speak by Mixmag. We touched on the lack of diversity in EDM music which oddly enough was put on my map by POC and LGBT. When you go to these festivals the lineups are usually missing representation of women and POC and that’s unfortunate.”
With the success of his debut album and his current position as a respected rapper, Bradshaw is continuing to push forward. “I’m working on my deluxe version of my album and features here and there. I’m also writing my follow up album. I have my hand in few other projects too. I’m never not working.”
Cakes Da Killa performs at Fortune Sound Club February 28th.