Cazwell has emerged as a New York City Downtown Superstar. His label debut single, “All Over Your Face”—which incorporates a catchy hook from the 1980 Loose Joints disco classic, “Is It All Over My Face”—is a YouTube sensation and a certified hit on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart. He counts Biggie Smalls and Cyndi Lauper as two major musical influences, so it’s not surprising that he makes music that’s a tad bit hard to categorize—and that’s just how he likes it. Is it Hip-hop? Rap? Electro? Disco? House? Pop?
Yes. And more.
INSTINCT: We love watching your videos at the office, especially “All Over Your Face.” It definitely captures a fun, sexy and sleazy scene of New York life in the ‘70s. What’s the story with your new video for the next single, “Watch My Mouth”?
CAZWELL: It’s gonna be awesome. It’s a crafty take on Hip-hop videos. I took some of the things they do, like Pharrell wears those Gucci link chains around his neck, so I made a huge Fucci link chain outta cardboard, cuz I had a cardboard budget for this video! And you know how Pharrell doesn’t react as he looks into the camera as some booty-call girl dances behind him? I did something similar, except my booty-call girl is tranny superstar Amanda Lepore, dressed as a superhero in some white Shazam-looking thing.
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How do you feel about the media calling you “the gay rapper”?
In my head, I don’t think of myself as Hip-hop, because I don’t want to follow the rules of that game—such as you can’t be gay and out. If there was a drop of acceptance in the Hip-hop world, someone would have come out by now. There was a big Hip-hop scene in Boston when I was living there, and I kept trying to get people’s attention, but they wouldn’t pay me any mind because I was gay—despite being talented. I decided to create my own space for music rather than try to get them to accept me. I love rhyming words, but I first turned to rap because I can’t sing. If I had a great singing voice I might have gone in a different direction. The rhymes I like most are the ones when I feel like I’m singing.
Tell us about your album, Get Into It.
I hope people like it, because I think I represent a gay point of view that is different from what’s out there. I love mixing all kinds of sounds. I’m not into making older-sounding or corny music. I wish there had been someone with a cool point of view when I was growing up who was out and young and spoke to me, and wasn’t making music housewives liked.