Cakes Da Killa Powerfully Marries Hip-Hop and House Music in New EP: 'MUVALAND'
By Nick Lee
"...diva puffing sativa / full-grown, a bad bitch a keepa..."
In 2011, a young Richard Bradshaw began, as many budding young talents do: sitting in their rooms writing countless tracks to online instrumentals and posting them online. Now, nearly a decade later, 25-year-old Brooklyn-made rapper, Cakes Da Killa, sits pretty as one of the most innovative rappers of his generation. A title that if not reinforced by his previous releases—The Eulogy, Hunger Pangs, and Hedonism—has been permanently cemented by his most recent EP release, Muvaland.
As a gay rapper—or rather “a rapper that happens to be gay”, as he mentioned in an interview with Ebro from Hot 97’s Ebro In The Morning—Cakes Da Killa has faced his fair share of criticism from the hip-hop community as an openly gay artist. In spite of his sexuality being perceived as a controversial and revolutionary aspect of his image, Cakes has always embraced himself unapologetically and authentically through his music—a sentiment that clearly comes through in Muvaland’s “Don Dada”.
The beat serves (literally) as a slick, electro-pop/house-inspired backing for Cakes’ effortless flow—a combination of sounds and lyricism not often heard in mainstream hip-hop. In a song, slightly reminiscent of Azealia Banks’ Anna Wintour, Cakes describes himself as a “diva puffing sativa / full-grown, a bad bitch a keepa”, before crowning himself the “Don Dada” (Definition: ‘The Most Respected’) in the song’s chorus. It’s a perfect single from an artist uninterested with the miniscule opinions of those trying to fit him in a box—a classic, ode-to-self in which Cakes claims an unequivocal truth: He “been great, it’s still Cakes”.
Keeping the same production feel as “Don Dada”, the album’s title track “Muvaland” is the musical epitome of ballroom culture. Dubbing the dance floor the “Muvaland”, Cakes invites everybody—drag queens, gays, even straight women and their “menz” to take part in a wild celebration not for the faint of heart. In a party for the ages, Cakes still brings it back “for the hoes who was hatin’” and the folks who “have the cake but ain’t bakin’”. He makes it clear that the Muvaland isn’t for them, it's for those who can get loose like he can while still “coming correct”. It's a song about self-respect making sure the right people are in your circle. In Cakes’ world you are your own “muva” —your dance floor is yours and the people you invite to it better come correct or not come at all. Definitely some advice many people could use in 2020.
For the most part, the album maintains its house/hip-hop feel, but it is in Cakes’ expertly-titled track “Intermission” that he takes a minute (the interlude is a minute exactly) to speak candidly about his career experience. In a track with minimal production, Cakes’ delivers his bars using a distinctly masculine timbre and cadence, uncharacteristic of the rest of the project. He talks about his haters as “faggots still riding [his] ass higher than true religions” and boasts about how he “slices bitches like a circumcision”. Despite the album as a whole focusing on self-pride, this track is clearly crafted as a message to a hypermasculine hip-hop community that Cakes is not only a superior lyricist but is not to be trifled with in terms of raw talent. By stripping the track of production Cakes proves that he is here to stay because he just has the right stuff.
And it’s the truth. Cakes Da Killa brings an entirely fresh and much needed flavor to modern hip-hop. For all the experimentation and innovation that characterizes the evolution of hip-hop, there has been minimal mainstream overlap between it and house music (a genre of electro-pop distinctly—and weirdly—pegged to gay culture). Cakes is a leader in barrier-breaking on this front. As a genre and culture expertly designed to embrace innovation, hip-hop has a lot to learn and benefit from embracing voices and styles like Cakes. It’s about the music and the talent, not the age-old stereotypes and barriers that just limit the progress of the music. With Muvaland, Cakes deserves to be a household name and poster-child for what mainstream hip-hop looks like when it’s truly limitless.
Not that Cakes da Killa is interested in fitting into the mainstream anyway…
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