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An insightful interview with Boyfriend, female rapper from N’awlins

Images: Akasha Rabut

“Interview Request: Boyfriend” — reading those words let me know that I have garnered the trust and professional respect from my Editor.

This is my first major assignment for GrungeCake Magazine. Feeling that this will be a defining moment, I immersed myself in all things Boyfriend. I let that Soundcloud rock ’til that shit proverbially popped by being interrupted by a phone call or six. There is nothing worse than reading a generic interview.

An hour before, I’m notified that it’s a “go” and that I will receive a call from her at 9PM, I knew my questions ranged from super personal to fake-political so I wanted to make her as comfortable as possible. With the looming threat of a potential equipment fail, it was Boyfriend that quelled my spirits with understanding. As the questions delved into her personal life, she crafted very thoughtful responses. She took time to process the question and actually ponder before answering. Our conversation on polyamory, open relationships, DTF could have gone on for hours. We were like new cosmic friends trading insights. Unfortunately, our interview had to come to an end but I look forward to experiencing her artistry grow and evolve. Shout out to Boyfriend for busting my cherry wide open. Now read our intimate interview below:

I want to talk about narrative, in interviews you speak of Boyfriend as an act, more commentary than anything else, I would think people would resonate w you more if they knew that this was coming from you personally or do you have a fear of being judged given the content?

The main factor is most of the raps out there right now that I listen to are people really speaking from a 100% transparency whereas I’m rapping about freaky period blood, having sex with old grandmas so it’s necessary to take a step back when talking about it so that I’m not a parody, because that’s not what’s going on. If someone is talking to me as an artist who is creating these songs, I feel like they can walk away with something more valuable than thinking of Boyfriend, simply as a punch line.

Your breath control is crazy, what artists did you model your flow off of? What exercises did you use to get there?

I have a strong history in show choir before Glee was a show, I was off winning championships with my high school choir in Nashville, so we had to sing and dance our asses off. I learned breath control through choir. As far as modelling my flow, I don’t think I’ve done that yet. There have been a couple songs where I say I’m going to try and take a more Azealia Banks approach on this one. She rhymes super staccato. One syllable words packed into one phrase, so I would do it almost as an exercise but my overall song that I write, I’m not consciously modelling it after someone else.

How have you been positioning yourself? As a sex-positive person, what crowd do you drift to? What about medium? Who’s audience would you love to tap into?

I would love to find more people like me, actually. I listen to Mykki Blanco and Le1f basically like the whole genre of theatrical art that’s going on right now. Zebra Katz is another great example. People who make music videos that are works of art. I would love for those people to get turned on to me.

What rappers and producers would like to collaborate with?

That’s really interesting because I feel like the sex-positive platform(s) found me. I put out “Hunch n Munch” which was very super sexual. The people found me and contacted me like Playboy Radio, Museum of Sex, and “Sex with Emily” which was a blog and now, it’s a whole show. I didn’t seek that out. I was just making songs. People were like “Sex-Positive Rapper, Boyfriend”, and I’m like, I guess I am sex-positive. For me, it was just like this is the song I feel like writing. This is what I feel like I have to say then, the audience found me.


How do you keep yourself abreast of what’s going on in the world? What are your top 3 sites that you visit in order to do so?

There are so many. It would be such an honor to work with anybody from Three 6 Mafia. I actually sent a Facebook message to Gangsta Boo, but she never responded. Growing up in Tennessee that would be a huge honor. I also really do think what Mykki Blanco is doing right now is the new “new” and that would be super exciting.

Lurking on the internet. Live for the Funk is one of my favorite blogs. They stay playing those jacuzzi jams with a really nice balance of rap. I also think Dose Rate is super under the radar but they’re like ground floor hip. They have actually found me now. Motherfunker is a really good blog.

There is definitely intentionality behind it. I wanted to write the song “Hunch n Munch” because I wanted to write a brashly sexual song that is on the one hand saying, “Isn’t great that that I get to say these things about sex?” On the other hand, it is saying as a female who is rapping, “I’m rapping about sex because I’m very much aware of how that’s like an artistic prison almost that gets placed on women in any industry, not just rap.” You have to use your sexuality as a thing so it’s both celebration and a comment, so there is definite intentionality. My intentions only go so far to dictate the creative process. I’m not thinking about the audience first.


Dare I say the F word “Feminist” or nah?

Sure, there are connotations of feminism that I have issues with. [It is] one of those words that have just become so watered down and diluted that it just depends on who is standing in front of me at the time. I’ve had arguments with people who call themselves feminists, who find strip clubs to be degrading to women.

Initially, I was asking about more political sites that helps keep you informed?

I, like most hip girls my age, like Jezebel and [I think] The Hairpin is great. I’m like a headline person. Honestly, at the end of the day, I go check out The Onion to feel better about the rest of the world.

What and who are your satirical influences?

Sandra Bernhard, Bette Midler, and Carol Burnette. Women that I really watch and love. I recently got turned on to Tony Clifton. It’s all about placing this showmanship of the golden age of musicals and theatre and placing it into this boner atmosphere. It’s like the Dean Martin Variety Show with a giant, raging boner.


Are you still in an open relationship?

Those are the only relationships I’m interested in. I’m not in a place to be monogamous because I’m not done hanging out and I don’t know if I’ll ever be. For me, it’s like human beings are so fascinating, beautiful and complicated, that there will always be new adventures and discoveries I want to make. I think that some people are able to go on those adventures with other people without undermining or devaluing the other relationships that they have. I try to look at people, all the people in my life, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, and I’m not complete with all the little pieces. I think it’s foolish to try and make one person be every single piece because that’s a lot to put on one person. They’re trying to be everything for themselves. You know, they gotta wake up in the morning and they gotta wash their dishes, they gotta pay their taxes… Can I be your everything also? It just seems like a lot to ask.

Are you a relationship anarchist or do you have a main person?

At the moment no, I travel a lot so I can see myself being a fifty-seven-year-old woman with a global access of lovers. It’s not ludicrous. It’s like true deep relationships that last years and years but you might only see that person three times a year. It’s definitely a Bohemian ideal. We’ll see if I can pull it off.

In terms of your open relationship, how honest were you with your partner?

It’s a case by case basis. Relationships, romantic and otherwise, are founded on communication. I think there is a difference between honesty and disclosure for the sake of relieving yourself of guilt. Sometimes, you might be telling something so that you feel better about what you have done. When really, if you did something you shouldn’t have done, maybe it’s your burden to bear and you should carry it. It’s really a case by case basis.

DTF… How do you know it should go down? Can you walk us through that moment?

It’s all about the vibes. I try to keep my vibe-meter finely tuned. It’s hard to put the vibes into words. I know personally, if something is too easy, it’s not as fun. I’m all about the slow burn, building the anticipation. It’s an exchange of energy. I know when to play a certain song because the audience is asking for it. They might not have ever heard the song before, but the vibes are like, now is the time for this song. It’s all about perception and doing things people want and being able to give it to them.


How old were you when you had your first orgasm?

Oh girl, I don’t even remember. I was one of those kids who were accidentally getting off in the jacuzzi, not knowing what it was. I think there are a lot of kids that do that. Never linking it to sex.

Sexually, do the ends justify the means? If you don’t have an orgasm will it feel incomplete or are you more interested in the journey or the arrival?

It’s certainly the journey and I keep that in mind in all aspects of my life. I make these YouTube videos because I enjoy making them, not because I want my number to get to a million views. It’s like if you’re in it for that, you’re in it for the wrong reason.

How do you fund your projects?

I work my ass off. I’m a hustler. I have a full time-job, in addition to being Boyfriend. I use that to fund my work. I’m very resourceful.

As a White woman in Hip-Hop, what do you say to those who would label your performance art as privileged escapism?

I try to be very respectful of that. I am in no way as frustrated as being a member of a systematically-oppressed race. I don’t have much room to complain, “Oh it’s so hard being a White rapper” so I am very sensitive to people who have issue with it or have something to say about it. At the same time, I challenge those people to review everything as content, that they’re actually talking about the actual work that someone is putting out instead of the looks of the person that is putting it out.

What was your defining moment that made you realize I can do this professionally?

It was a beautiful moment. I can point to it. A lot of different things in life, you can’t point to that clearly. I took a last minute, crazy romantic let’s-just-get-in-the-car-and-drive road trip to Berkley, California when I was living in L.A. I crashed at a friend’s place and he was kind of playing around and making beats. He ended up making the beat for “Bitches Be Hating” and I kind of freestyled and came up with that flow. It was this beautiful, funny afternoon that the song was created. I just knew [and felt], “Wait, this song is actually pretty good.” I’m not saying that I’m going to change the world, but it’s good enough that I wasn’t embarrassed and that I wouldn’t mind if someone else heard it. That was the start.

If you can go back in time two years ago, what advice would you have given to yourself?

Not to be afraid and advocate for yourself as an artist. I was way too embarrassed to say, “Hey, look at me” for a long time. I think that’s part of why I have been unknown for so long. I was just kind of minding my own business releasing these videos and I finally have a place of confidence where I can say, “Hey, pay attention to me.” It took me a long time to be okay with that. It seems like something selfish. In today’s world, where someone is trying to show me a picture of what they had for lunch, I think it’s fair for me to show them this video I made.

What aspects of femininity have you yet to explore that you would like to make into a song?

There are definite double standards that need to be addressed and I am more than willing to address them, but I want to make sure that I am speaking from a place of maturity. I don’t want to venture out until I’m damn sure [about] how I feel. When I wrote Period Rap, I was ready to put that into people’s faces because I was tired of having to sneakingly carry a tampon to the bathroom meanwhile my co-worker is scratching his balls. How is that fair? Again, it goes back to the danger of the F word Feminism because while people might be offended by people opening a door for them, isn’t it also nice that someone wants to open the door for you? Some of that stuff is sticky. I have to stew on it a little longer.

What artists influenced you?

Definitely strong women voices are the main influence. It’s less the sonic quality and more their overall approach to the industry like what Björk did for the music video or how Beyoncé is involved in every aspect of production or how Erykah Badu is just completely unapologetic of who she is. Those are the type of things I try to take inspiration from because sonically I know I don’t sound like any of these people and I wouldn’t try to because they are their own classics. I wouldn’t try to recreate that and hopefully while aligning myself with artistic processes, I can create my own unique product.


And last but not least, when you hear GrungeCake what comes to mind?

I actually think of bite-sized attitude. Like a plate of really hip cupcakes.

For more Boyfriend, just click here.

Written by Manny King John


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