Imani the Misfit was described by other publications, organizations and on-line radio stations as "Maryland's First Bisexual Rapper/Nude Model." Imani offers a new sound using modern and technologically savvy promotional modalities to reach his audience of now thousands of fans nationwide.WCT:
(Windy City Times) Now, you've been described as a rapper. From whom do you draw your influences?Imani:
(Imani the Misfit) That's really hard to pin down. I have a wide array of individual artists that I take something from. Tupac is the main reason I started listening to rap in the first place so I take a lot from his sound but I also listen to Prince, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley. I listen to everybody. All of my songs sound different and that was a deliberate attempt on my part to keep my audience guessing.WCT:
What about your new song, "Question Authority?" How did you come up with that title?Imani:
When I wrote "Question Authority," it was really a period of enlightenment for me. I started watching documentaries on history, culture, the legalization of drugs and government conspiracies and it began to open my own mind to new possibilities. So when I wrote that piece, I really wanted to share the kind of emotion and feeling I had with my audience. I wrote those lyrics first and took the next five months composing the music to go with it. The feeling I had was special and I wanted my fans to feel that way too.WCT:
It sounds like you have a really musical background. When did all of that start?Imani:
Well, at age 13 I started rapping. But my father, you see, he's a minister in our church [and] got me into playing the drums at services. So I started doing that. Then I concentrated on learning to play the piano and the keyboard. I played piano in my high school concert band actually. I got back into rap when I was 20 or so.WCT:
You're bisexual. When did you know?Imani:
That's a really complicated story. I always was attracted to women. Then I messed around with some dudes and liked it, but I acted as if I didn't know what just happened. I just couldn't identify with it. You were either gay or were straight. I knew I liked women so how could I be gay? I first encountered the term "bisexual" years later and it took me that long if not longer to come to terms with who I am and what that meant.
I became very curious and started watching gay porn. Some of what I saw I thought, "That looks fun!" and some of it, well I wasn't that into. I met a few men on Craigslist and realized I really loved it. Obviously, I'm bisexual. After that, I just had to speak about it to others. It was like the world's best-kept secret but I had to share that it was okay to be bisexual. Do you know how many people I can touch with my message that it's okay to be bisexual and be yourself?WCT:
Does your music ever reflect your bisexual experiences with men?Imani:
I do have one song, "Radio," that talks about my experience with a guy. It's sexy. It makes you want to dance to it. I do have other songs about men in the works but most of my experiences have been with women so that's just reflected in my music.
Bisexuality is a complicated sexual orientation. It's not like you're attracted to half guys and half girls all of the time. For me, I prefer women but there are definitely men I find attractive.
I do like to shock people though and show them something that maybe they've never seen before. If what I do makes people angry or disgusted or think the world is going to end because of my music that gives me such a rush because I affected you that much.WCT:
Where does your stage name come from?Imani:
"Imani" means "faith" and I liked that. It took a lot of faith and hope to get me through a lot of my suffering. As far as the "misfit," well, Tupac introduced a whole new character to the rap world. Actually, all the great rappers did that and I wanted to do the same thing. I have never heard a rapper who spoke to me about those things that I felt plus I was a Black guy who grew up in an all-white neighborhood. I never felt like I fit in. My own identity struggle just stuck with me.WCT:
Your bio also mentions that you're a nude model. How did you end up doing that?Imani:
I always had a desire to show my body to others. I'm uncircumcised so that was always pretty unusual, at least in this part of the country. So I shared my photos initially with my fans. Some were not thrilled but a lot of people mentioned that they were actually turned on by what they saw. I don't care who you are, but everybody wants to hear that they look good naked. I don't like the message we send when we are ashamed of our own bodies.WCT:
What is your message to others?Imani:
I want people to be themselves. Never be afraid to go for it and trust in your instincts. I'm living proof that anything is possible. I've had over 300,000 views on YouTube, plays on over 40 internet radio stations. If I had listened to those who told me to not come out as bisexual or not follow my dreams, I would not be here now speaking with you. Be true to yourself. You can make anything happen.You can watch Imani the Misfit on his YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/ImaniTMisfit, or follow him on twitter at www.twitter.com/imanithemisfit. He is also on Facebook under his professional name, Imani Lee Jones, and he is also at imanithemisfit.tumblr.com.Interview by Joe Franco for Windy City Times