CAZWELL — IT’S ALL OVER HIS FACE!

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A FIXTURE IN THE GAY CLUB SCENE, RAPPER CAZWELL BECAME A YOUTUBE SENSATION THIS YEAR AFTER A MILLION PEOPLE PLAYED HIS “ICE CREAM TRUCK” MUSIC VIDEO IN LESS THAN A WEEK. WE ASKED THE MASSACHUSETTS NATIVE, WHO DESCRIBES HIS MUSIC AS SOUNDING LIKE “BIGGIE SMALLS ATE DONNA SUMMER FOR BREAKFAST”, ABOUT THE SONG, HIS UPCOMING NEW VIDEO, AND WHAT MAKES HIM LAUGH.
TEXT Kirsten Matthew / PHOTOGRAPHY Paul Bruno / STYLING Rebecca Daly

 

 

DIRTY: HOW OLD WERE YOU WHEN YOU WROTE YOUR FIRST RAP?

CAZWELL: I always was attracted to rhyme. I’d memorize Shel Silverstein books and perform them around the house. When I was 19, I started rapping with this girl Crasta. We didn’t put out a record until 2000. When we first started it was in Boston. Boston is like a college town. When we started getting connected in New York, gigs at CBGB, we decided to move down here and make it happen.

 

D: WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR INFLUENCES WHEN IT COMES TO MUSIC?

C: I like people with something to say. That’s the most exciting thing in music. I’ve always had more of a punk rock mentality: Peaches, the Beastie Boys. My goal was always to be an uncontrived artist on stage. I was never into choreography or anything. There are great products in mainstream music. I love Madonna; she’s really good at what she does, although she was most innovative more than a decade ago. I’ve met Britney and I think the reason that she’s such a big success is she’s such a nice person. Christina, you know she’s not that nice. Anyone that’s ever met her says they don’t really want to talk to her. Amanda Lepore has something to say. She’s really someone that people can learn from.

 

D: DO YOU WANT TO BE THAT KIND OF CELEBRITY?

C: I would already consider myself a celebrity anywhere gay. People know who I am and I get respect in gay clubs. I’d like to be famous like Peaches. She has money and fame, but can go to the grocery store and control it. That’s what I’d like.

 

D: WHAT INSPIRED “ICE CREAM TRUCK”?

C: When I think about New York in the summer time, I think about hot Latino boys, so I wanted to focus on that type of imagery. They all came over to my apartment and I painted a Mexicana rose color in one corner and the fire escape gold, and we filmed the whole thing there. What I really like about it is it’s the gay version of a hip-hop video, with the way the guys are objectified. I’m not showing ass crack any different to the way they show girls in a thong or their tits. I definitely feel that I objectified the Latino male community. The lyrics aren’t overtly sexual and the video is fun and sexy. And makes people feel fun and happy about being gay. It’s an irresistible song. It’s not pushy. Everyone’s smiling and having a good time.

 

D: THE VIDEO HAS NOW BEEN WATCHED BY MORE THAN TWO MILLION PEOPLE ON YOUTUBE. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

C: It makes me feel really important (Laughs). I always think everything I drop is going to be major. With this one I hoped it would get 2,000 views and we hit a million in six days. It feels good.

 

 

D: WHAT DO PEOPLE THINK ABOUT THE WAY YOU PORTRAY YOUR SEXUALITY IN YOUR WORK?

C: I definitely think people appreciate that I’m claiming it and the way I claim it. I’m not the first gay rapper, but my point of view is… Look, if you treat your life like it’s not a big deal, it won’t be a big deal. So I go into a song and nonchalantly say I met ‘him’, rather than ‘her’. I approach it as if it’s not a big deal. I live in a bubble in which there are freaks everywhere, and being gay is the least of anyone’s uniqueness. If you treat it normal then that is what it becomes. Gay guys are always looking for a hero. I’m noticing I’m representing a voice that they don’t have; that they relate to. I would never say “I relate to Lance Bass.” It’s great he’s out and I hear he’s a good guy. But I think people relate to me. That video made me even more relatable.

 

D: ANOTHER SONG YOU’RE KNOWN FOR IS “I SEEN BEYONCE AT BURGER KING”. DID YOU REALLY SEE HER?

C: No.

 

D: WHAT DO YOU THINK OF BEYONCE? WOULD YOU COLLABORATE WITH HER?

C: Of course I’d collaborate with Beyonce. She has a great voice. She has a great talent. I love working with other people. I’d have to let her be the boss. But then again, you know Gaga was running that video they did. If she calls me, I’ll do it. I don’t really know her, but she saw the video and she said she liked it. She had a sense of humor about it. The whole video is about her owing me $10, nothing to do with food.

 

D: WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?

C: My next video, for ‘Get My Money Back’. The whole concept has to do with gay people sticking together and power in numbers. I really hope that message comes across. It’s nightclub meets National Geographic, meets ‘Clockwork Orange’. Monkeys travel in gangs and some are known for their hypersexual activity, so we’re a gang of monkeys in a city and we all come together. I think about the next video all the time; I get consumed by it.

 

D: WHAT ABOUT PERFORMING? WHERE HAS PERFORMING TAKEN YOU?

C: I just played the Moulin Rouge in Paris. That was pretty amazing. It was like wow, you are in the club with 2,000 people and you have all their attention. When I first started my solo career, my version of a tour was a round trip ticket to San Diego, have a gig, make no money, sell CDs, hit LA, San Francisco, Portland. No one knew me. Now, someone is paying for my plane ticket, picking me up at the airport, and giving me money to play. People are changing their plans to come buy a ticket and see me play. It’s phenomenal to me that people leave their house to see me. I can’t forget that. If you work hard that happens. That’s the ultimate place that my work has taken me.
D: HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT TO YOUR ONSTAGE PERSONA?

C: I don’t know how to explain it. The biggest misconception is I’ll go to do a sound check at a club and the manager will say, “Wow, I thought you would be a total asshole.” That’s happened at least a handful of times, so maybe my persona is kind of an asshole and far from personable.

 

 

D: IT’S OBVIOUS FROM YOUR LYRICS AND VIDEOS THAT YOU HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR. WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?

C: Sarah Silverman makes me laugh. My friends make me laugh. They say the craziest shit. I hang out with really funny people that always crack me up.

 

D: WHAT’S THE FUTURE FOR CAZWELL?

C: I want to be able to be just as big in straight clubs as gay. That will happen as long as I keep dropping music. I want to keep DJ-ing. I want to make a lot of money. I live in New York City; I want to buy a condo. I live in the East Village and I have no heat! I want to live in a nice, stable home with heat. I would like to get an assistant or an intern.
I have an EP out with Amanda Lepore right now, so I’m pushing that. I’m cleaning my apartment, which will take a few months. I’m getting new T-shirts made. And I want to be really busy for the summertime. I’m working on a new album, which should be out soon, maybe February.

 

D: TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT THAT NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT YOU.

C: I don’t know if anyone knows this about me, but I’m addicted to Judge Judy. I want a tattoo on my chest that says, ‘Only Judy can judge me’. I think she’s really fair, intuitive. It’s like watching God work. I’ve learned so much from her. I have a better grip of when people are lying to me thanks to her. She has great comic timing and doesn’t tolerate any shit. I love everything about her.

 

 

HTTP://CAZWELL.COM
CAZWELL ON MYSPACE

 

 

 

 






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