A GoPride Interview


Self control: NYC out-rapper Cazwell on his latest video and Chicago's scene

Thu. January 16, 2014  by ChicagoPride.com

Chicago kids have always been super friendly and open to hear new music.
New York City based, out-rapper Cazwell, best-known for his innuendo-laden videos for "Ice Cream Truck" and "All Over Your Face," has transcended the label "gay rapper" and gone mainstream superstar.

In his latest viral video sensation "No Selfie Control," Cazwell is calling out those who overshare their own photos – the selfie.

Cazwell is bringing it back to Chicago for Scarlet Bar's 6th Anniversary Party on Sunday, Jan.19. Here Cazwell talks about "No Selfie Control," his upcoming single with Manila Luzon 'Helen Keller', Chicago's scene and what's coming next from him.

CP: (ChicagoPride.com) Our first interview with you was in 2007. How have things changed for you as an artist?

C: (Cazwell) The first thing that comes to mind is: I no longer live in the East Village in a railroad studio apartment with another person with no heat or hot water. I now live alone in a big apartment with plenty of heat and hot water anytime I want it.

CP: When we first talked to you, you were initially being hyped as a "gay rapper." It wasn't a label (or the exclusive label) you necessarily wanted, but how has being gay shaped your perspective as a musician?

C: The perspective of being gay and involved with hip-hop and/or the music industry in general has certainly changed. The past couple years have seen a big wave of gay rappers that are getting some shine and it's about time. When I first started it was hard to even get a gay pride gig because gay clubs and gay prides only wanted to book divas and drag queens. It's nice to see everyone's perspective come around.

CP: You've certainly found mainstream success since 2007. So, how did 2013 treat you and what can we look forward to in 2014?

C: I was dealing with a break up for a lot of 2013, so I had some lyrical therapy and it turned into a few songs that will be on my new album. Speaking of my new album that will be out in Spring 2014, it's called Hard 2 B Fresh and it's an amazing piece of work that will change your life and everyone should go buy it the day comes out. [laughs]

I also have a lot of videos coming out in 2014 so look out for them.

CP: You're latest video "No Selfie Control" is blowing up. Tell us how that song came about.

C: The idea came to me because this guy I dated had no selfie control at all and I wrote the song about him. He was actually the one that would put the phone on the ceiling fan and set it on a timer so he could take pictures of himself on the bed. I thought it was a really good concept for a song since the whole world seems to be wrapped up in their online image. I'm guilty as well. [laughs]

CP: Aren't we all? And so are many of your fans, who helped by send in hundreds of selfies.

C: Yeah. That was cute! And, my first lyric video. A lot of my fans sent me videos of them taking a selfie so that I could put it together for a lyric video, which came out really cool.

CP: Your next single is a track with RuPaul's Drag Race all-star Manila Luzon, titled "Helen Keller." What can you tell us about the track?

C: This was definitely one of my post break-up lyrical therapy moments, LOL. And it helped. Helen Keller in this case is a metaphor for when you don't want to see or hear your ex ever again because they broke your heart and you need time to move on without them in your life. I loved working with Manila. She's so dedicated and really wanted to make it perfect. The first day in the studio she showed up in drag and I was like "oh you have to work after the studio session?" and she was like "no I just wanted to be in full character when I get up to the microphone". I love her!

CP: You've often said the NYC scene has been an inspiration in your music, but you've been to Chicago several times, how does Chicago's nightlife and crowd differ from NYC?

C: I see more similarities between Chicago and New York nightlife than differences. Chicago kids have always been super friendly and open to hear new music. Chicago is actually the first place I ever performed Ice Cream Truck before the video came out. Chicago is a good place to try out new songs.

CP: You've played Berlin Nightclub and Hydrate Nightclub. Now you return to celebrate Scarlet's 6th anniversary.

What can we expect?

C: I'm going to feel it out but I plan on dropping some new songs as well as some faves.

CP: Are you excited about coming back to Chicago?

C: Fuck yeah!

CP: So Chicago is a favorite. [laughs]. What have been some of your favorite places to perform in 2013?

C: San Francisco has always been one of my favorite places to perform. People really go out to have a good time and there's no sense of entitlement at the clubs like there is in New York and other big cities.

CP: Your fans, what are they like?

Are there any fun stories about your groupies?

C: My hardcore fans are the most intelligent people in the world. The craziest fans are different in person. They're the ones that will say they want to swallow my kids online but then when you meet them up close they don't have anything to say.

CP: Are you seeing anybody?

C: Yeah. I got a cutie over right now. He's making me chicken noodle soup because I'm kinda under the weather.

CP: Congrats to you, but I'm sure there are many disappointed fans out there. So, what kind of music are you listening to right now?

C: I'm really into Cakes Da Killa. The new M.I.A. There's a girl rapper Dai Burger you should really check out too. She's dope.

CP: And what's next for you and where can people find out all about you?

C:My Facebook page has my latest updates and I'm @cazwellnyc on Twitter and Instagram.

Don't miss Cazwell Sunday, Jan. 19 at Scarlet Bar, 3320 N. Halsted.


Interviewed by ChicagoPride.com