ABOVE: CAKES DA KILLA. IMAGE COURTESY OF SAM EVANS-BUTLER
Mishka Records recording artist Cakes Da Killa, also known as Rashard Bradshaw, is a 22-year-old rapper and performer from Englewood, New Jersey with two EPs under his belt; he is extraordinarily poised, considering his youth. We met him about a month ago, as Cakes was crossing Canal Street with a posse on the way to his show at Frankie Sharp’s now defunct Friday night party at Santos Party House—”I’m stopping at McDonald’s first,” he confessed, a bit sheepishly. His show that night had the packed croud shouting in admiration.
Cakes released his first EP, Easy Bake Oven, in 2011, and The Eulogy, his latest release, came out on January 29. Prolific and ambitious at an early age, he’s becoming a hot commodity on the music scene and club circuit—especially gay clubs, since he demonstrates that you can be gay and still full of badass swagger. He’s been compared to Lil’ Kim due to his wild raunchiness, and his risqué lyrics, rebellious attitude, and throwback ’90s beats have made him a big hit at colleges.
Although it has a somber title, The Eulogy is not really about death—it’s about life. He’s releasing the lead single on the album, “Goodie Goodies,” in his new music video, which finds Cakes delivering a stream of filthy lyrics in rapid-fire succession, his face, adorned with lipstick and lashes, filling the screen. The video was directed by Jatovia Gary and features dancers Jerijah West and Yinka Parris; and the plaintive song relies on quirky rhymes and timely issues: “Hit me on Grindr so I know where to find ya / Pull up to the crib in ya new Pathfinda… He only want me for my goodie goodies.”
So what’s up with the name Cakes Da Killa? Although tired of explaining, he says with a laugh that he’s sweet but also rough and vulgar. Is he really a killer? “No, but I imagine if I were a cupcake, I’d have a blade in the middle.”
GERRY VISCO: Are you at all like Lil’ Kim?
CAKES DA KILLA: She’s like a fairy godmother, she’s the queen of vulgarity.
VISCO: Do you consider your work vulgar?
DA KILLA: That’s just the way I talk. It’s just language. If people paid as much attention as they do to cursing as they do to teaching people how to start businesses or teaching their fathers how to take care of their children, the world would be a better place.
VISCO: Do you have parents?
DA KILLA: I do, Sarah Bradshaw. Only one. She’s young, she had me when she was 14.
VISCO: Does she party with you?
DA KILLA: When my mother had me, she became a grown woman. She does hair full time and she takes care of two grown boys.
VISCO: You have a brother? Are you close?
DA KILLA: We’re close. He’s younger than me. We’re getting closer the older we get. I’m still living at home. I was living on campus at Montclair, but I had to move out to save money, it was too expensive.
VISCO: You’ll be finishing your BA at Montclair State University in May. What will you do when you graduate?
DA KILLA: Travelling in July. I’m going right to Europe and make my money. I have a show in Poland, shows in Sweden, Germany, London, and Croatia. I’m just trying to make some money.
VISCO: This is your first European trip?
DA KILLA: Yes. This is my first time out of the US.
VISCO: You’ll be promoting Eulogy. In the US, have you done any tours?
DA KILLA: No, not yet. I’m focusing on doing college shows since that’s where all the money is. I performed at NYU yesterday, I’ll be at Kenyon College in Ohio, and I have a show at Haverford.
VISCO: How old were you when you first started performing?
DA KILLA: I’ve always been doing a lot of creative things since I was little, but I was rapping and performing since my sophomore year in college, two years ago. My first recorded song was “Rapid Fire.”
VISCO: What inspired you?
DA KILLA: Just being free, just enjoying myself. It felt good and it felt right and a lot of people liked it, so I just kept going.
VISCO: Before you started rapping and performing, what were the other things you liked to do?
DA KILLA: I was a big theater buff in high school, I did a lot of plays, really typical gay lifestyle choices. Into fashion, painting, writing poetry. I was at the Academy of Englewood—it’s a magnet school. It was a really different high school from the local high-school experience, so I really appreciated it. I met a lot of people from different backgrounds, different towns, different tax brackets. That’s always fun.
VISCO: Were you ever bullied?
DA KILLA: No, I was never bullied because I have the gift of gab. I could make people smile, and no one likes to make fun of the comedian. That was my armor.
VISCO: When did you start going out in Manhattan or Brooklyn?
DA KILLA: I started raging as a freshman in high school. That’s when I went to my first Pride event. In Jersey, I’m a big fish in a small pond, but it’s nice to recharge there.
VISCO: When you’re done with your European tour, what do you think you’re going to do?
DA KILLA: Hopefully I’ll be doing some freelance out there, so when I come back, I’ll get a job someplace. Being a rapper is getting me places, so I’m just playing it by ear right now. I can’t be a rapper forever.
VISCO: Name some inspirations.
DA KILLA: I’m inspired by a lot of rappers like Remy, Lil’ Kim, Foxy, Cam’ron, but what makes me different is I’m relating my music to my experience and the gay experience. I’m also very honest about things.
VISCO: What about that song: “Bitch, I wanna fuck your boyfriend / Bitch, I wanna fuck your man.” I don’t have a boyfriend, but if I did, you’re not taking him away from me.
DA KILLA: Yeah, we’ll see about that! I’ll probably get a Grammy out of it. If someone took my boyfriend away, it’s on to the next one. I’d say fuck it, I’m not emotional about things like that. Love is fleeting anyway.
VISCO: But you are a Libra, though. Which means you’re jealous.
DA KILLA: [laughs] I’ve been in love twice.
VISCO: And what happened?
DA KILLA: They’ve been horrible experiences.
DA KILLA: Being young, being dumb, and being gay. I was in love, but we weren’t in love together.
VISCO: Give us some secrets about how you, as a kid from New Jersey, have been able to get it together?
DA KILLA: Always being genuine, always being true to yourself, and knowing how to dance, because that’s where the networking happens. It’s not about a business card, it’s about what you can do on the dance floor with somebody.
VISCO: There are a lot of people out there who do nothing but are jealous of everybody else. How did you get up off your ass and do it?
DA KILLA: It just came to me. I’m not that kind of person to sit on my ass. My mother had me at 14, no one gave her anything, she had to work.
VISCO: Do you know who your father is?
DA KILLA: Yeah. I have a relationship, I know him, but it’s not like he helped my mom. I guess that put a fire under my ass to get out there and make something happen. I don’t live a typical American life, but I’m living the American dream somehow.
VISCO: You’re 22 now. No more fake IDs?
DA KILLA: I never had a fake ID; I waited, because I didn’t want to get caught up in the drugs and that life.
VISCO: What do you think about the world today? You’re outspoken and have a lot of obscenities in your songs. Do you have a message?
DA KILLA: I don’t really have a message. The world today is shit. The Internet is making everything shit, I just want to shut it down. The Internet helped me out too, so it’s kind of a give and take.
VISCO: If things were different, how would you see it?
DA KILLA: I would change people’s priorities. They’re worried about gay marriage, they need to be worried about the homeless gay people that are out, the youth living in the street. It’s all about the gay white prerogative.
VISCO: You’re gay, black…
DA KILLA: I’m not queer. I hate that word. It’s not in the black community. I like “cunt.”
VISCO: Do you consider yourself trans at all? Do you like to put makeup on?
DA KILLA: Of course, I have to put a lash on. In terms of gender roles, what is makeup? It doesn’t just have to be about being female.
VISCO: I don’t want to put you in a box, but I saw you in that roundup of queer rappers. Is your style comparable to the others’?
DA KILLA: No, we have our own styles, but we all sleep with men. That’s how the media paints it. If I had a cover story, I wouldn’t use that angle, I think it’s so lazy. I tip my hat to anyone who’s making it in music, but I’m not hawking anyone else’s career, I have my own life to live.
VISCO: Are you ready for mainstream?
DA KILLA: I’m ready for whatever’s going to come my way.