WVAU‰’S MOST UNDERRATED AOTY: Mykki by Mykki Blanco

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WVAU‰’S MOST UNDERRATED AOTY: Mykki by Mykki Blanco

Tessa Dolt

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Courtesy of Pitchfork

Mykki Blanco has taken the aggressive rap of previous albums and added an impressive vocal range that works honestly with the heavy, introspective lyrics in her studio debut, Mykki. The queer, gender-fluid performer and alter-ego of Michael Quattlebaum Jr., has established herself as a multi-genre artist, drawing from hardcore hip-hop, bubblegum rap, punk, all while conveying both a Southern rap and underground New York influence. Mykki serves as an honest self-portrait, allowing listeners to interpret Mykki‰’s sentiments throughout the clear shifts of tone and style in her songs.

While the first track off the album, “I‰’m in a Mood‰” fits comfortably into Blanco‰’s dark, industrial sound, “Loner‰” Ft. Jean Deaux is her first venture into the realm of pop — and it received an overwhelming response from listeners. When the music video for “Loner‰” dropped on Youtube, it was shortly taken down for “breaking community guidelines.‰” (Yikes, it was a male bulge and not a hyper-sexualized woman!) It was no surprise that Mykki was going to raise hell for this. She took it to Twitter where she talked about institutional queerphobia that silences Mykki‰’s artistic expression and as many other black American queer artists on media platforms.

“YouTube @youtube have banned my music video for “Loner” citing that the video breaks their ‰community guidelines‰’. This has confused all parties who worked tirelessly to create the video from the producer to the team of directors who are both Queer. The only explanation we can think of as to why the music video was banned is bc of a social media produced comment thread in which an individual sites the appearance of a male scrotum, but it is not exposed flesh or a penis, but a bulge. Once again our society grants hetero privilege to parade overly sexualized images of women for a cis male gaze yet Queer imagery is policed, demeaned and censored. I am deeply saddened that Youtube have engaged in this kind of homophobic double standard censorship and we are fighting now to have the video unbanned.‰Û

Here is the video, now put back up on Youtube with a content warning.

 

The versatility of this album allows each song to be a facet of his life, being HIV-positive, wanting monogamous love. And her life, meeting people only interested in what they can get out of her success, and others who doubt her influence. “The Plug Won‰’t‰Û, “You Don‰’t Know Me‰Û, and “Interlude 2‰” are some of the most vulnerable, introspective tracks on the album that reveal Mykki‰’s personal struggles. “Interlude 2‰” is straight from Blanco‰’s journal, speaking of intimate feelings and experiences from what seemed like deep connections were really surface-level relationships made on ecstasy, to wanting unconditional, ride-or-die love.

Then there‰’s, one of my favorites, “For the Cunts.‰” This bubble gum rap track is explicitly for his gay friends that he‰’s shared many nights at the club with. In the words of Mykki, “I wanted to make a song that could get played on RuPaul‰’s Drag Race.‰”

The gender-bending artist references both drag and feminine gay aesthetics that act as a dichotomy to “this kind of very masculine, street thing‰” featured in “I‰’m In a Mood.‰” Then “My Nene‰” intentionally remains gender neutral as a way of relating to a range of audiences. Inclusivity and the exploration of femme and masc aesthetics are consistent in the album, music videos, and live performances — all of which are important to Mykki‰’s persona and the environment that she creates for her audience.

Mykki touches on so many aspects of the performer‰’s life — one being a part of the underground arts scene in New York City. In a track-by-track interview with Fader, Mykki describes “Rock N Roll Dough‰” as, “a backpack rap track about being an intern, also being an escort, also having a sugar daddy, also selling drugs, also just doing anything you can to survive in New York City at 23.‰” What is typically scrutinized in mainstream society, is presented in Mykki as the raw and unapologetic Mykki Blanco.

I say that Mykki is an underrated album because of the shortcomings of music publications that aren‰’t highlighting and celebrating the work of marginalized—specifically black, queer, underground—artists talking about their marginalization. Mykki has called out several black media outlets such as BET, The Source, and Vibe Magazine for perpetuating queer erasure by ignoring artists like Mykki, and instead praises flamboyant, but cisgender, heterosexual artists. Mykki puts out an incredible album, but is left on mute meanwhile Young Thug puts on a dress once and is called revolutionary. She deserves all the love, respect and success that she has gotten in her career, and as WVAU‰’s most underrated album of the year, I‰’d say we should be celebrating Mykki more.

If you haven‰’t already, listen to the full album here: