Cazwell :: having fun, just don’t call him a gay rapper
Out New York performer Cazwell’s music falls into a category that’s not exactly easy or comfortable to classify. When the now-38-year-old attempted to gain a foothold in Boston’s hip-hop scene, he was met with some resistance for his openly gay identity. And though he’s gained the adoration of his queer fan base, even LGBT-centric media like MTV’s LOGO have sometimes hesitated to showcase songs like "All Over Your Face" for their explicit, not-safe-for-work lyrics.
Despite these obstacles, Cazwell has managed to carve a niche for his high-energy jams, most recently gaining a viral following for his high-energy, sex-charged recent video "Ice Cream Truck," which has drawn nearly 2 million views in just under two months.
Set to play shows in Chicago and Los Angeles this weekend, taking a break from his busy schedule of regular gigs DJing on New York’s club scene and recording new releases with his co-conspirator Amanda Lepore, Cazwell fills EDGE’s swear-jar with quarters while discussing his videos, Bjork and why he’s chosen to ignore what he calls "the rules of hip-hop."
On ’Ice Cream Truck’
EDGE: How are you doing, Cazwell? First, I just wanted to ask, what does an average day look like for you?
Cazwell: I don’t really know how many days are average in New York, but usually I sleep really late, get up and go to the gym and check my emails. I DJ like five nights a week and get in bed somewhere between 4:00 and 5:30 in the morning, then I’ll sleep all I want. I usually try not to get up unless I have to. Lately, I’ve had to get up a lot earlier for interviews or to work out some business shit. This is a busy week, I’m in the studio with Amanda [Lepore] doing our last song for her album.
EDGE: Are you excited for your Chicago gig?
C: I love trying to get out when I’m traveling, going to meet fans. I love when we play in clubs because I’ve worked in clubs and get the deal. I know the lifestyle. It’s fun to find the kinds of people in Chicago who are like the New York club people. But I’m not playing Berlin this time - which I’ve played four times, every other time I’ve played there. Hydrate will be a new experience for me and I’m really excited for it. I always have great shows in Chicago.
EDGE: Did it surprise you how "Ice Cream Truck" went viral? Has that exposure changed how you approach your career at all?
C: I typically think everything I do is going to be huge, then it doesn’t turn out that way, even if it sometimes it does. But when I do anything, my goal is that as long as I impress myself, I can defend it. This idea wasn’t the typical way I do a video - typically it’s a long process, but I knew I had to get this song done quickly since it’s such a summer song. We shot it and two days later it was edited. After two days, it was up on YouTube. We just did it and didn’t waste too much time thinking about it. I remember the video’s director Marco Ovando said he really hoped we’d hit 100,000, and now, the last time i saw it, we have almost 2 million views. That’s huge.