Text: AMIRA RASOOL
26-year-old Rashard Bradshaw, also known by his stage moniker Cakes Da Killa, is a MC in the truest sense of the word. Over the last 5 years, the Englewood, New Jersey rapper has consistently delivered projects that exhibit his alarmingly impressive lyricism, aggressively poetic flow, and knack for powerfully commanding the attention and admiration of fans globally—primarily those who frequent electronic dance clubs. His rhythmic dance tracks are raunchy, sexually explicit, and infectiously catchy; they contain all the primary ingredients of any popular hip-hop track sans the traditional banter of rapper’s heterosexual exploits. Why is this? Because instead, Cakes Da Killa discusses the life he knows best, the one he lives as a gay Black man in America.
For his debut album, Hedonism, which released today, Cakes Da Killa materializes a comprehensive reflection of his past works in elevated form. Hints of the rapper’s slow tempoed 2015 EP #IMF reappears in “Tru Luv,” and the consistent electronic elements that have most notably defined his sound since the release of his 2011 debut mixtape, Easy Bake Oven, filter through tracks such as “Keep It Goin” and “Been Dat Did That.” The content of Hedonism also stays true to form. With not so much as a thought about his boundary-pushing content matter (because to him he’s just rapping about his life); Cakes Da Killa talks blow jobs, senseless shade throwing, and shutting down the club with a squad full of bad bitches in a similar fashion as his biggest influences Lil Kim and Remy Ma did in their prime.
The confidence that beacons in his work was apparent over the phone as he spoke to VMAN about his debut album and being respected as a skilled rapper while still maintaining his essence as a gay man with a story to tell.
What did you want to communicate with this album?
I think with this album, the main thing is me proving that I can actually rap and just make like really good rap music, and really good club music, and to get the conversation away from my sexuality and more so back to the music. I also wanted the project to have a really strong gay narrative. I've been reading a lot of books by a lot of gay authors and I think having strong gay narratives spoken by actual gay writers is very important. I kind of wanted it to be very heavy on lyrics because I'm kind of sick of having the conversation about, you know, gays in rap. I just wanted it to be really good rap music. Also, the whole project is about me falling back in love with myself and not really giving a fuck about anyone's limitations on me or like the glass ceiling I have to face.
What experiences have you gone through recently in your personal life that have influenced your growth?
I think relationships and dating have been really important in my creative process lately. I think you know just dating in the app age is really like triggering sometimes. I'm talking about a lot of that situation. I also kind of relate dating and affection with you know performing and being like an artist because, in a way, going on a Tinder date is kind of like performing for a crowd of people. It can go really good or it can go really bad.
How would you compare this to your other projects? Do you think you've grown a lot?
Recently, I was with one of my friends and she was definitely like, from comparing the music, there's definitely growth. I think as an artist you definitely grow the more you do your craft. Life takes you different places. I'm not like the 21-year-old kid in the college dorm room when I first started making music. I would hope that there is some type of development. I think the main thing is I still have the same elements that I came into the game with: the humor, the wit, the word play. I'm just a lot more polished and a lot more mindful of like everything that comes with working in the industry.
How do you come up with your lyrics? Is there a structure to your writing?
It really depends. Each track has its own sort of reference to how it came about. Some things are like I could be sitting on the train and I'll write a line that I think is catchy and I'll build from that. Sometimes it’s a lot more organic where I'm like in a studio with the producer and we're trying to put something together and we're copying and pasting things in the right format, or it could be like this is just what I want to talk about and I need to find a beat because this shit is on my heart and I need to get this shit out. So it really just depends on what I'm trying to say—the mood I'm in.
Hedonism refers to optimizing self-pleasure, what made you select that title for the album?
Well for me I think that it comes from two things. It was me banging my head against a glass ceiling and feeling very unappreciated. I was being treated like shit in my relationship; I was being treated like shit in the world. I was feeling like no one was taking me seriously and I was kind of just like reborn. I'm like, you know what, no one is going to treat me like shit because I am the shit—I am that bitch. It has all that energy because it's like you know typical swag rap shit. I feel like I never really had that kind of persona and I've always been very like, oh, this is just for fun. I was like, no, I'm actually going to like go off on everybody.
I feel like, especially with gay men, a lot of entertainers don't talk about sex, do you feel like you should talk about it to make people aware?
I always say it like this: When I started making music I was in college, so I only had two things to talk about. I was either going to talk about midterms or having sex, so I decided to talk about the better thing. I got this reaction for being the only one that was talking about gay sex, but it’s like, for me, everyone has sex, so I don't get the like shock value of me rapping about it. I feel like rap is definitely something where you talk about your reality—you put your truth in the music. I don't sell drugs and I don't fuck bitches, so it's like what else do you want me to talk about? You don't want to hear me spit a 16 about doing laundry so you got to just stick with the blow jobs, sorry.
I feel like the media focuses a lot on how your sexuality can negatively affect your career do you think that there are positive advantages to being openly gay?
I think there are definitely positive things. I think that a lot of times people paint this picture of me as being this victim who's sitting in my room and I can't progress because bad old hip hop is going to kill me. I tell people I get more shit from other gay people. Like are you kidding me? The body shaming, and the fat shaming in gay clubs that I face. Any homophobia or any tension that I may get from being open about my music is definitely not something that's going to be in my face, it's going to be behind my back or it’s going to be like me losing opportunities that I don't know about. I'm fine, you know what I'm saying. Diplo likes the album—I'm good. Me being definitely open about my sexuality gives me opportunities to do events that are centralized for gay people. It kind of creates a community of people who were never interested in hip hop or people who love hip hop but felt like there weren't being represented in it. That's always good.
What's your definition of a good club night?
Okay, good fucking club night in New York. It's definitely on the decline because they keep shutting everything down. I think for the venue we're definitely throwing a party at Flash Factory. LSDXOXO is playing, we're going to get Skrillex in there so we'll have mad people come and I'm going to perform. Actually, we're going to get Skrillex and Diplo to do a back to back, they're going to do a back to back so basically no one is going to be able to come in. The after? I'm going to throw a house party.
Cakes Da Killa’s debut album Hedonism is now available to purchase and stream via his website.