Rapper Cazwell Opens Up About Being Gay in Hip Hop
He's had a top-40 hit and recorded with Lady Gaga. He's an established star with over a decade in the business. But rapper Cazwell said one thing has kept him from earning more respect in the hip-hop industry.
“I came to the conclusion that no matter how good I was, my videos were or my music was, straight people in hip hop really didn’t want to be down with gay people in hip hop,” he told Niteside before getting on stage Sunday night at Lux. “But I learned to work hard and get accepted. Create your own space, your own music and have people come to you. That has stayed with me a long time.”
Cazwell, who was in Miami to perform on South Beach for their weekly party “Jump!,” has been criticized for his explicit lyrics and video, “Ice Cream Truck.” But not caring what the critics had to say, Cazwell notes, was the key to the success of his summer smash.
“When we did the ‘Ice Cream Truck’ video, I was like, 'Let's forget all the rules. Let's do whatever we want to do,'“ he said of the clip that has almost three million hits on YouTube, “That was the mentality we had, and everyone felt it. I’m glad that’s what I did. Follow what turns you on, and people who connect with that will find you”
And the rapper, who describes his sound as if “Biggie Smalls ate Donna Summer for breakfast,” knows that while his music might be risqué, he hopes his message of empowerment comes through.
“When I got started (in the duo Morplay before going solo) we were already out and we weren’t going to lie to each other or anyone else and it didn’t seem like an option. I knew life would be so much more difficult if I had to pretend to be something different.”
He thought for a second before adding: “So my remedy is if I treat something like it's not a big deal, then people will treat it like it’s not a big deal too.”