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Get down in the dark VR club with Cakes Da Killa

The unapologetic New Jersey rapper is here with ‘Been Dat Did That’ – he talks coming into his own in NY clubs, on the road in Europe, and in the bars of his self-loving debut LP Hedonism

Carving that sweet and essential spot for himself in a genre that’s become saturated by heteronormativity and puffed-up commercialism is Rashard Bradshaw, otherwise known as Cakes Da Killa. While artists like Young Thug play with gender identity in fashion, Danny Brown spits fast and Nicki Minaj waxes lyrical on the shades-down sexual experience, it’s Cakes who’s rising fast as an unapologetic cyclone of self-expression and technical prowess.

Cakes has amassed a huge, devoted fanbase with his wealth of mixtapes, from Easy Bake Oven (2011) to The Eulogy (2013) and Hunger Pangs (2014). Hedonism, his first LP, is a culmination of that relentless aural eye-rolling confidence, years of grafting and an emotional break through his self-described glass ceiling to the top. At times slinky and sexy, hard and breathless, Hedonism is a much-needed indulgence in fizzing narratives and generally feeling oneself.

“Been Dat Did That”, premiering here on Dazed, is Cake’s first VR music-video offering, directed by Mark Lovato and Gella Zefira. Within it, we navigate the dark, pulsating club vibes that Cakes rides so well. He’s been there, done that, knows what you want from him and will give you your shit back twice over at the speed of a spitfire. We speak to the Jersey rapper about his project. 

For mobile users, click here to get the full 360 / VRl experience

How has this year been treating you?

Cakes Da Killa: I’ve been on the official album tour for about two weeks. My show in Paris was really good, I feel like I’m really coming into my own in a weird way.

These are things I’ve been wanting to do all my life. I’m a lot older and though I’ve always been comfortable, this is the most comfortable I’ve ever been with my music and myself, and I think it’s showing. I do most of my writing when I’m in Europe – I was dealing with a lot of bullshit whilst I was away so I definitely wrote the majority of it on my last two-month tour. My manager was driving us around, like we drove to Italy and France, went through Monaco and it gave me time. Grinding, being on the move, travelling has all really impacted on me as a person and artist.

Has this time helped you hone your perception of who you are as an artist?

Cakes Da Killa: To be honest I think since my first show like four or five years ago I’ve always been me. I’m witty and I don’t take myself seriously, and it’s very much always been about rap and the beats being very club based, off-the-cuff, and personal to me in a moment.

What was growing up in New Jersey like for a budding young rapper?

Cakes Da Killa: Being from New Jersey, it was never really where I listened to club music. I had to go discover these things on my own, so I was always going to New York. Me and my mom did trips to the Museum of Natural History and to Times Square when I was younger. Jersey was where I lived, but New York was where I got that sense of culture and soul and excitement. I feel like New York is definitely where I had my budding period, where I became a fully fledged you know.

Was hip-hop and rap always a part of your life?

Cakes Da Killa: Where I’m from you can’t not be surrounded by rap, but I also grew up with other kinds of music and I was a young curious gay kid. I’d go through my mom’s collection, soul, funk, I’d have my Foxy Brown and Missy, and then I’d have my No Doubt. I had an ear for music and I’d dig for everything. I wasn’t just limited to just one type of note, type of BPM or genre. Then I’ve always been a writer, and Hedonism sees me fully becoming a rapper. I now feel like a real rapper.

What is “Been Dat Did That” saying?

Cakes Da Killa: The whole album definitely has this aggressive self confidence, and this is track is a very self-pleasing moment. I think I’m getting back to myself, which is really important. I’m focusing on a particular mentality – I just hate when I do interviews with people who ask ‘Oh, is this your first time touring Europe’. I hate basic questions, I don’t care if you’re unaware of me, but yes I’ve been doing this, and yes I did that. This is me being like, ‘Yes, this is my moment, I’m gonna bask in it’. It was very important to have this kind of track. Sometimes you need to be humble, but sometimes you need to reflect on those great things that you did.

And how was it shooting the video?

Cakes Da Killa: This is the first time that I’ve ever done videos for album releases, which is how you’re really supposed to do it. I was sitting on a lot of material just waiting for it to be released. This song is kind of a fan favourite so it needed a video. It was also my first time working with the 360 VR footage. It’s not really that different, aside from the fact we had to film it twice. I’m happy with it, I mean, I paid for it (laughs).

What’s your creative process like?

Cakes Da Killa: Some tracks I’ve made start as voice notes with a melody or just a hook, other times it’s a lyric on a notepad. Then sometimes I write directly to a beat. The writing process involved a lot of fuck boys and a lot of alcohol and frequent visits to dark places.

The album is definitely a retrospective of all the things I’ve had in my previous mixtapes. The music I make isn’t always going to be on trend, or what’s going on right now, but it’s always going to be me, never bogus. I have the last say on everything I put out.

“The writing process involved a lot of fuck boys and a lot of alcohol and frequent visits to dark places” 

Who are your performing Hedonism for?

Cakes Da Killa: I think the project is pretty versatile – I wanted to appease the fans that have been listening to me since the beginning, but I also wanted to make music that was marketable to my new demographic of fans. I wanted to please everyone, but then again, I mainly wanted to please myself! The majority of my music is shit i've lived, you won't really catch me talking about things that I haven't experienced.

When creating the album, I was completely falling into myself, banging my head into a glass ceiling because I couldn’t get a break in five years, feeling very ‘HELLO?!’ I decided to take it all back and start making music for myself.

Have you made yourself vulnerable for the record?

Cakes Da Killa: I don’t think I made myself vulnerable – I don’t have skeletons in the closet. With this project I was coming out of a relationship, so I was talking a lot about boys and getting back into the dating scene, it’s just more personal. Self empowerment is important, but it’s that fun element in all my music that I need. I think music is a great form of escapism, and in it I’ve found that you can't love anyone more than you love yourself – that’s the idea of ‘hedonism’ you have to look out for in yourself.

Does it feel like a responsibility you have to bring forward?

Cakes Da Killa: I do think a musician always has a level of responsibility, but I think a good artist will always have those subtexts in their music that are totally innate. Me making music is not that calculated, but there will always be things in my music people can see themselves in, take away something or experience in their own way.

Where do you see yourself in the realm of mainstream hip hop and rap?

Cakes Da Killa: Selling out tickets in Madison Square Garden!

Is there anyone you would dream to collaborate with?

Cakes Da Killa: Definitely Nicki Minaj above anybody else. That would be an amazing come up.

Hedonism is available to buy now here