Over the last decade, rapper Mykki Blanco has not only helped lay the blueprints for other underground queer hip-hop artists, but frequently and purposefully abandoned these blueprints in pursuit of other, ever-growing facets of their creativity. I chat with Mykki about their legacy of setting trends, only to then defy them.
Mykki’s return to Australia this weekend for the first time in ten years will see them returning as a different artist, to a different crowd. The culture has finally caught up to their music, and Australia is ready to celebrate it.
The Mykki Blanco legacy
“My career has been full of twists and turns,” They say to me.
“I’ve never been a major label artist, I came up through the underground New York rave scene collaborating with producers.
“But along the way I’ve still had so many career highlights and defining moments.”
These moments have seen Mykki effectively shattering the barrier between the underground and the mainstream.
From touring with Death Grips, opening for Major Lazer and Björk, as well as collaborating with Madonna, Charli XCX and Kanye West. Mykki is a bona fide industry veteran.
“As an art school dropout who didn’t start creating music until age 25 and has never been classically trained, it’s been rewarding to see how my music has grown and how I’ve become a more accomplished musician over the past decade.
“I’ve made friends and fans all over the world, and it’ll be a funny reunion to reflect on what’s been achieved and to look forward to reaching new heights in my career.”
From the underground
Mykki, along with fellow underground queer hip-hop artists such as Le1f, Cakes da Killa and Zebra Katz have carried this legacy for many years.
As they continued to push the envelope, however, the opening of doors allowed new blood on the scene to find their own voices within the genre.
For many of these emerging artists, cultivated audiences eagerly show up and show out, affording their craft the respect it has long-deserved.
But this culture of appreciation didn’t form overnight.
“There are a few moments of acceleration I can think of, but ultimately it was because of the artists who came before us,” Mykki recalls.
“My peers and I always get this stamp of approval as torch-bearers of the time where we were so uncompromising and trailblazing for acceptance.
“Through our successes and the international network of fans, the industry realised this was a profitable and worthy space to facilitate.
“And now, I think it’s amazing that we get to see artists like Lil Nas X ascend to pop stardom, which may have seemed unfathomable 10 years ago.”
Showcasing their evolution
Mykki’s return to Australia will also allow the artist to showcase their latest creative endeavour: the back-to-back release of two albums.
Broken Hearts and Beauty Sleep (2021) and Stay Close to Music (2022) were both written and forged through the pandemic, allowing Mykki to explore previously uncharted territory for their music.
“I was inspired by a lot of music from the 60s, like David Crosby and Joni Mitchell, as well as more modern music like My bloody Valentine, The Beach Boys – a lot of surf rock music,” They tell me.
“There’s also this musician from New Zealand who I love named Connan Mockasin.
“I think sonically with these albums I wanted to play around with a lot of shoe-gazey kinds of sounds.”
But for their grand return Down Under, Mykki says there’s no holds barred.
“It’ll definitely be kind of like this really high-energy rap, rave, inspired performance. I can’t wait.”
Needless to say, neither can we.
You can catch Mykki Blanco at Perth Festival and at Heaps Gay Mardi Gras for WorldPride. Grab your tickets now!
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