Release Date: Sep 18, 2015
Record label: !K7
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock
"It's time to actually be as punk as I say I am," read the June 12th Facebook post revealing Michael Quattlebaum's HIV positive status. The three-sentence statement has since been mythologized as a turning point in Mykki Blanco's career, in a year that already had a few. In the spring, Quattlebaum told the world that he was moving away from music and towards investigative journalism with an interest in queer studies.
A haloed dog symbolizes Dogfood Music Group in its logo. It’s a familiar sign in marginal musics, especially along the joins of hip-hop, industrial, and noise music. DJ Dog Dick, Dog Leather, and Hundebiss Records, for example, also adopt the token, and the music on Mykki Blanco’s C-ORE compilation largely reassumes this canine scent: Violence’s opening track, for example, leads the way with its echo-drenched snares and muggy raps; the production is damp, with hypnotic vocals drowning against an ominous piano motif, interspersed with stuttering swells of handclaps and somber drones.
In Jeff Chang’s 2014 book Who We Be: The Colorization of America, he likens the race to co-opt hip-hop and other subcultures in order to capitalize on a wider consumer base as something of a gold rush. Lady Gaga positioned herself as a benevolent ally to the marginalized despite being white, thin, blonde, and rich. Feminism, once an ideological haven, has now become a buzzword bastardized beyond recognition because we insist on aligning its values with celebrities.
Lucky for all of us, Mykki Blanco did not give up music to focus on becoming an investigative journalist as was reported earlier this year after everyone jumped the gun upon reading a frustrated Facebook post from Blanco. That said, I'd gladly pay a subscription to read about the world through the eyes of this iconoclastic punk queen. Mykki Blanco is an artist with many interests, none of which pander to the expectations of other people, so perhaps this is a plan still yet to unfold.
Not unlike Janelle Monáe's Wondaland collective, Mykki Blanco's Dogfood Music Group imprint is on a mission to diversify notions of black artistry. As the New York musician/performance artist explained when announcing the label, he wants to disrupt "this singular image of 'African-American music.'" Whereas Monáe attempts that from within the pop establishment, Blanco doubles down on his outsider status. DMG's debut comp, C-ORE, is an apocalyptically loud rejection of the underground-to-mainstream trajectory so many clamber along; its brutal sonics reflect the similarly uncompromising way the artists assert their identities.