Sound Check with Cazwell

Cazawellby Skip Sheffield

“In gay club culture, we create our own slang,” says Cazwell about his latest hip hop dance track, “Helen Keller.” Drawing inspiration from the stage play, The Miracle Worker, the song is about a term the rapper made up for when a person ex-communicates someone from his or her life. “One thing I’ve heard the kids in clubs say for a long time now is ‘I don’t see her’ which usually means you’re not feeling someone’s look. I always loved that line, so I wanted to incorporate it in the song.”

If I ‘Helen Keller’ a person, it’s another way to say, I can no longer see or hear the person,” he continues. “They’re dead to me. If I go out and they’re at the same club, I can’t be bothered.”

He admits that when creating the song, he had a lot of pent up aggression he needed to get out. “I went through a break up last year. I used this song as lyrical therapy,” he says.

“Helen Keller” is more lyric-based than Cazwell’s previous releases. It’s also a new sound: crunky with a nineties house vibe and some trap elements mixed in along with vocals from Drag Race superstar, Manila Luzon, and the underground maven, Roxy.

Who was the last person you Helen Kellered?
Cazwell:
 My ex-boyfriend. I don’t talk to him anymore because he cheated and lied to my face too much.

Oh no. Has Cazwell become the gay Taylor Swift, writing about bad break-ups?
Uh, no. I don’t like to dwell too much on breakups, to tell you the truth. But for this last big break up I was particularly inspired to write. Not in a vengeful type of way, more like lyrical therapy. 

Do you normally write lyrics to get your aggression out?
No. Normally I write lyrics because a beat inspires me, or I come up with a theme or a hook I think is funny and I want to write a track around it.

What is something that is making you mad right now? 
The lack of justice there has been for Islan Nettles, a transgender woman that was beaten to death in front of a police precinct in Harlem, New York. A police officer pulled Paris Wilson, a twenty-year-old male, off of her. Wilson spent only ten hours in jail and has never been charged with murder. It’s a huge injustice and I am part of the fight to have him charged. Nothing makes me more mad than injustice.

Would you agree Hip Hop had made leaps and bounds in its acceptance of homosexuality? 
It’s definitely a sign of the times for gay people when the number one rap album of the year is by a straight rapper who is part of the political fight for gay rights. But I don’t think Hip Hop had much of a choice, to tell you the truth. It’s just moving with the times. For the most part you can thank the internet for forcing people to have an open mind towards homosexuality. Because of the internet, I no longer need TV for people to see my music videos. And it’s not only me; the world is getting turned on to other gay rappers like Mykki Blanco and Big Dipper thanks to YouTube.

What’s your take on the rumors that Macklemore used to be a gay male escort?
I never heard that rumor before. I’d rather find out he did gay porn though. I think he’s hot and I rarely go for gingers.

What is the most outlandish thing that you have been accused of?
Pretending to be gay to get attention. 

Honestly, do you care what people say about you?
Yes, I care what people say about me. And I don’t believe anybody that says otherwise. Of course I want people to like me and speak highly of my work, but I understand that I will never be able to please everyone and that’s ok. The more people talk about me, the better. Whether their responses to my songs and videos are positive or negative, I’m happy [to receive] a response, regardless. 

Where do you plan to go next with your music?
I’m dropping my new album Hard 2 B Fresh this spring. I will be releasing a new video for every track. I also just started production on the new Amanda Lepore album. I’m really excited about it.

What is one topic that has yet to be covered in Hip Hop that you feel needs to be?
Trans rights.

Visit Cazwell.com


Sidebar with Manila Luzon

Who was the last person you Helen Kellered?
I can’t answer that because it defeats the whole point of Helen Keller-ing someone! But I can say the poor bitch is still coming out of the woodwork begging me to see her and hear her, and I’m all like, “Nope.” Helen Keller!

How did you come to work with Cazwell on the new single?
I asked Cazwell to collaborate on a song with me last year, and to my surprise he agreed! Then I gagged when I realized that I was gonna have to lay down rhymes and actually rap for real!

What was it like to work with him?
Cazwell is sexy, so obviously he’s great to work with! I admire him for his extreme talent. He can rhyme anything! I love that he is so good at his music but never takes himself too seriously. He also represents the New York City gay scene so well in everything he does, from the music he makes to his fashion.

What’s your message to Cazwell’s ex—the guy who inspired the track?
How do you say “Thank You for inspiring this song” in sign language? [Laughter] 

Is Cazwell dating material?
Hell yeah! Besides being eternally sexy, he is a sweetheart… and I love a boy with swag!

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