Queer hip-hop artist Mykki Blanco is more interesting than a Twitter hashtag. Though Blanco might have made headlines after experiencing an alleged homophobic incident on a Delta airlines flight and getting a “Fuck Trump” tattoo in Paris, Blanco’s music is more intriguing.
With distorted punk, a cameo from Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna, and queer-centric lyrics, Blanco’s 2014 mixtape Gay Dog Food challenged the rap rulebook and played outside the genre’s rigid lines. On Mykki—Blanco’s studio debut released in September 2016—punk, pop, dance, industrial, and even string music all make appearances.
How has the persona of Mykki Blanco as sort of this fantasy character/alter ego evolved over the years into the album you just released?
Mykki Blanco began as a performance art project. But over time, what’s been awesome is that I’ve really been able to meld Mykki with my own personality, playing with characterization, and with just letting Mykki Blanco be kind of like a palate, a blank slate for many of the other theatrical ideas I’ve had.
With this album, I really wanted to create something that people would listen to and say oh, so this is what Mykki Blanco is actually like. I talk about drug addiction and coming out as HIV positive—and other very personal things I share on the album. I really just want to continue to use Mykki Blanco as a platform. Hip-hop is the catalyst that has enabled me to have a platform, and I do musically want to go places where I haven’t been, but I also want to use Mykki Blanco in a more interdisciplinary way, too.
Your new video for “High School Never Ends” is visceral and surreal. What’s the story behind it?
When we were making the video, one of the first kind of central ideas that I really wanted was to see queer anarchists on film. I wanted to show gay commune life, or just this idea of people who live off the land in a truly queer, radical fairy sense. I’ve never seen that in a music video, or in a showbiz context. So I talked to the director about giving that kind of radical slant to it. And we brainstormed about using the Romeo and Juliet arc to tell the story of forbidden love between someone from the far right, you know, the alt-right, and then someone who would be in the antifa community.
This video and your video for “Coke White, Starlight” are both intricately styled. How do these rich visual elements fit into the repertoire of Mykki Blanco?
Ever since I came out, my visual voice has always been a way to let people know that I viewed what I was doing as having star quality, having real weight behind it, stylistically and visually. So for me it’s always been not only just a way to tell the story of a song, but also a way to show off—to say that even though I’m not a mainstream celebrity, I can produce this kind of quality work.
What’s changed in terms of the way people are thinking about gender and queer identities since you started making music and art?
It used to feel so rigid and so homophobic, and now so many of the things that used to make me seem taboo have become mainstream, like you know, talking about how America had its whole transgender moment, and gay marriage happened, and there’s so many things that are becoming common usage in people’s vocabulary, like non-binary and genderqueer.
Do you think we’ll ever see a dyke for president, as you recited in Zoe Leonard’s poem back in October? Why or why not?
Probably not. And I mean, I think we all know why not—a large part of our country is just really not on the same wavelength about equal rights like a lot of us are. But I think what we see in this administration is one generation’s last chance to really make a fist at the younger generation that doesn’t really agree with a lot of what their ideologies are.
What are you doing now to resist and prepare for Trump’s attack on immigrants, people of color, and LQBTQIA communities?
I’m trying to focus on ways in which people in my community and myself could drive, rather than continuing to just harp over and over again about the administration. I think people should stay hyper aware and hyper vigilant. But right now, I’m focusing more on community-building and less of what the administration does every single day.
I really want to buy land. I know some people who are really making space, in a physical way, in the South, making spaces for trans and queer people of color. I think it is really cool and very necessary to create these kinds of spaces for ourselves. I think it’s time.