Following up on his previous album PreTty boy, Berlin through New-York poet and rapper Black Cracker is about to deliver his new album PosTer Boy (with a release party on March 20th at Prince Charles). Highly influential within the booming Brooklyn alternative hip-hop scene with artists such as Cakes da Killa, Zebra Katz and Leif following in his footsteps, Black Cracker has collaborated with the likes of Cocorosie, Creep, LCMDF and Bunny Rabbit alongside sharing stages with Grimes, Slick Rick and Maceo Parker. Evan Musgrave caught up with him to discuss his career and the advent of LGBT artists in the hip-hop scene.
What attracted you to rapping as a form of expression for what you wanted to say?
Attracted? Hmm… Sex, drugs, cars and naked, ladies! Just kidding. No really, I think that for me it is just the medium of my generation. Like doing the twist or roller skating. I had been doing visual art and was quite disturbed at the commoditisation of expression in that white walled arena and needed something a bit more urgent and impassioned so I went into poetry and eventually found my way to music.
Did you have a background in rapping before you started performing as Black Cracker?
I don’t know if I would fully call what I do rap or hip hop, it’s definitely coming out of that but think I have a different set of principles that I feel calling what I do rap could be a bit misleading. This is probably my issue, but I do know that when I played some more Hip-hop parties, people tend to think my shit sucks. Or maybe I am indeed not so good. Black cracker began as my production name. My newest record Poster Boy is probably the closest to a hip hop record I will ever be.
Where did you begin performing? How were your early performances received?
I began doing poetry in NYC at the Nuyorican poets’ cafe. I could barely get through a poem without losing my voice. It was such a grand feeling to exchange such powerful intoxicated nights with foreign bodies also poured out onto stages in word and song. I always tried to show love so I guess that’s why it was returned.
Do you think Berlin provides a more open environment for your art?
The affordability of the city does indeed. Its limited cultural diversity does not lend well for me personally. But really what does open mean? Sometimes it is the in-caged that produce the most refined pearls.
How do you see the LGBT hip hop scene developing in Berlin over the next few years?
It’s not a scene, it’s a type of music and an acronym for sexuality and gender. The only way I can answer this question is that I think it will be interesting because Europe in general, to me, (in terms of hip hop) has a very “golden era” sensibility. Classic breaks and beats and “traditional” principles of lyricism. It has not so much evolved, in my opinion, through the years with the numerous movements in urban music that have progressed. I feel hip hop here is a time capsule and it would be great to let in some new forms but I really don’t see that happening because it’s just a different sensibility and era. How LGBT might respond is different because that “scene” is often communed in the night life there, where the elements of newer “hip hop” can cross over because they are not confined within what “hip hop” should be or is or was. Combining club music and faster tempos for example.
What do you think has lead to the increasing acceptance of LGBT rappers?
You mean the “mainstream” “accepting” a larger array of sexualities and a more realistic gender spectrum? I think we all accept and are aware of more than this new world order would want us to remember. We are all individual. Some like it a lil’ rough, some with tea and biscuits wearing a leopard thong… Humanity could never lose its individuality. We are fractals, infinitely evolving along a lakes edge. We are all just shaking off the white film of conformity and remembering our iridescence. I think it has nothing to do with a particular genre of music rather than the larger consciousness of current beings.
What do you make of the titles Queer Hip Hop or LGBT Hip Hop? Do you think it’s an accurate/acceptable means of classification?
I believe it’s discriminatory and will believe so until we define other things as heterosexual or white or male or skinny or all the numerous ways in which many are determined and dead set on making humans “other”. Or if a particular set of technical elements are defined to the point that makes it an artistic form. Meaning drink 3 shots, spin twice, every other word is an internal rhythm and the BPM must be 110 and that defines an art form or style. But individuals discussing the same things individuals have always discussed ought not be separated.
Do you see such movements as having a missionary intent to overturn conventional views on hip hop?
Conventional views on hip hop are based on market and media. You can’t trust either and anyone with any amount of common sense or understanding should recognize and seek out their own relationship and understanding. Hip hop as a market is coming out of the racist institution of America and there is more to hip hop just as there is more to an egg than its shell. I think some people are politically minded in their ambitions and others are not.
Do you think the current means of promoting music through blogs has changed the way artists are creating music? Do you think artists hold an increasing awareness of the importance of reblogging as a means of getting publicity and that this is influencing music production?
I don’t think it has necessarily changed the way artists are creating. I think it gave people seeking instant fame an opportunity to do so, guised under the flesh of being an “artist”. I think we should not be so quick to label things art or individuals artists. I think time will always tell intent and value. Art is not about nor will ever be about popularity. It is a quiet mediation on time and scale and skin that at times roars and erupts but mostly steeps until it evaporates. I just try my best to stay true to the voices in my head… that sounds a lil’ crazy but it’s better than bandwagoning on a bunch of 2-d voices discovered while scrolling through Tumblr.
A huge thank you to Black Cracker for this interview, if you live in Berlin do not miss the Muschi Kreuzberg backed Poster Boy release party on March 20th at Prince Charles where Black Cracker will be performing with a live band alongside an impressive line-up which also features Planningtorock, Tokyo Hands, Stimulus, Laura Clock, Lotic, Dreea and many more, . If you don’t live in Berlin, better start preparing your move over, and what better way to do this than by listening to the Local Suicide premiering the Acid Washed remix of Black Cracker’s song Chasing Rainbows? It’s a free download and you can also check out the video for the original song. To purchase the album head over to the Black Cracker online store.