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? 

Thanks! I’m super excited about this release. I think the main difference is the presence of bigger vocals. I wanted to challenge myself by writing for singers to bring the tracks to life.

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? 

Sam and I have great synergy. When we work together we create very unique tracks because we don’t play by the rules and I love that. He’s been with me since the beginning, so he gets it.

‘CAKEWALK’ is a killer tune, brimming with bass and breakbeats. Where have you enjoyed playing the single most so far? 

I haven’t really played it out that often since my tour wrapped before the release but I will be during my upcoming shows in March.

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? 

Wow, there were too many DJs! I remember being younger and stealing a DJ TaMeil CD from my cousin because I was obsessed with club remixes and they weren’t played on the radio at the time.
As I got older there were people like MikeQ, Vjuan Allure, Nita Aviance, Venus X, Byrell the Great, Julianna Huxtable, LSDXOXO… too many to mention! I came out at a really great time; the scene was booming, so there were a lot of small pockets of magic across the city.
Was there a certain sound or scene you were initially drawn towards?
Not really, I’m more of a floater. To this day you can catch me at a ballroom event in midtown, a reggae party in Brooklyn or in the Bronx with a DL trade. I’ve always made sure to make my rounds.
And when did you realise that being an artist was your deeper calling? With over a decade in the game, you’re somewhat of a seasoned vet in America’s club scene.
When I got a check made out to Cakes da Killa I knew this would be my life. I couldn’t cash it, but still. I’m definitely seasoned but the best is yet to come.
How would you like to be remembered beyond the music? The effect you’ve already had as an artist, both through your solo releases and collaborations with Honey Dijon and Injury Reserve, is clear for everyone to see…
Remember me as an artist that broke ground by being themselves unapologetically. It’s not as easy as people make it seem, trust me. That and a great songwriter.
We have 24 hours in New York, where are we heading for food, drinks and a night out?
Depends on if you can really hang or not. We can pregame at Upstairs@Erics in Tribeca. Eric Johnson is a world-renowned photographer and a great cook so we can partake in some stimulating conversation over a hot plate.
After that, we can head out to Paragon in Brooklyn to sweat off the calories. If we get too hot at Paragon we can walk to Mood Ring or even Happy Fun Hideaway for a change of scenery. All on the same strip, how convenient!
After that, let’s Uber up to Harlem and stop at the Red Door for the afties. It starts at 4am. Let’s end the night with some antics!
How was Glastonbury festival last year? Where did you play, how did you find the vibe and what did you learn about yourself while on Worthy Farm?
Glastonbury was an experience. I played the block9 stage which looked insane in the best way. I learned to always travel with ear plugs, which I do now.

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… 

Thank you! I had to get a ‘real job’ which was a true culture shock for me, but it inspired my short film, Visibility Sucks, which is on YouTube, so something creative came out of it in the end.

Cakes da Killa rules the world for the day, what’s going down? 

I’m building more affordable housing, ending all wars, completely rebranding the FDA and making talent an actual requirement for fame.

What’s next for Cakes da Killa? Beyond this record, are there any shows we should know about? 

Be on the lookout for upcoming March tour dates in Australia and Asia.

Cakes da Killa’s new album, Black Sheep, will be released on March 22.

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