The NYC MC talks breaking ground by being unapologetic, playing Glastonbury’s Block9 and all things Black Sheep: his electrifying new album.
Cakes da Killa’s nocturnal electronica has been laying down the laws of the dancefloor for well over a decade. Before the success he would eventually receive with studio albums like Hedonism, the New Jersey-born, NYC-based artist left his mark locally, releasing classic mixtapes and aligning with fellow LGBTQ+ vocal polymaths like Mykki Blanco and Le1f. A new style of avant-garde rap was brewing in the city’s clubbing and ballroom scene, which combined bone-shaking Chicago house with East Coast hip-hop and a myriad of American dance music genres.
Wearing this eclecticism still today, like a badge honouring his influence on New York’s cultural landscape, Cakes is hungry for more, despite the everlasting impact he’s already made. ‘I Run This Club’, sampling M.I.A’s track of the same name, may seem like an egotistical declaration of authority, but the hit song speaks to his switchblade sharp flows, which cut through the incandescent spaces he regularly performs in. Cakes, however, believes his work is far from over.
Fast-forward to 2024, and the Honey Dijon collaborator is on the cusp of dropping his highly anticipated new album, Black Sheep. Expanding on his relationship with isolation, the record guides listeners on a spiritual trip through the clubs of Manhattan to the back blocks of Brooklyn, soundtracking those moments in crowded spaces where the feeling of loneliness is oddly overpowering. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as Cakes turns up the heat and revs through the gears: from skittling lo-fi jazz to pumping 4/4, providing hip-shakers, lip biters and gun finger makers in equal measure.
‘Cakewalk’, a COLORS Performance and the most recent single from the project, strikes ears with its sticky breaks and sweaty bass. Inspired by classics like Kelis’ ‘Caught Out There’ and Blu Cantrell’s ‘Hit ‘Em Up Style’, the track acts as a warning call to a lover who’s getting a little big for their boots. Lyrically, we’re reminded that people can’t have their cake and eat it too.
Having already shattered the glass ceiling for Queer artists, and opened up the conversation of where they belong in hip-hop, Cakes revels in the life he’s made for himself on Black Sheep. Yes, he’s somewhat of a seasoned veteran in North America’s club sphere, but he assures us via email that the best is yet to come. Here, he talks breaking ground by being unapologetic, playing Glastonbury’s Block9 and all things Black Sheep.
Your new album, Black Sheep, is set for release later this year, congratulations! How have you approached this one differently to previous projects?
You reunited with Sam Katz, who’s on production duties across the record. What does he bring out in you as an artist? Why do you think that you work so well together?
‘CAKEWALK’ is a killer tune, brimming with bass and breakbeats. Where have you enjoyed playing the single most so far?
Which DJs soundtracked your early interactions with club culture in New York or New Jersey? Was there a certain sound or scene you were initially drawn towards?
A personal favourite project of yours is Muvaland with Proper Villains. Released during lockdown, as an artist, how did you find navigating your career while clubs were closed? I’d have loved to hear ‘In Da House’ and ‘Don Dada’ on a proper soundsystem during that time…
Cakes da Killa rules the world for the day, what’s going down?
What’s next for Cakes da Killa? Beyond this record, are there any shows we should know about?
Cakes da Killa’s new album, Black Sheep, will be released on March 22.