Gay hip hop phenom Cazwell brings his flash and bling and “No Selfie Control” to the Bud Light Main Stage on Sunday, June 29 at 4 p.m. – and the rapper and songwriter promises a good, fun time.  


With hits like “Ice Cream Truck” and most recently, “Helen Keller,” a duet with drag icon Manila Luzon, the over-the-top entertainer has released two studio albums, numerous EP’s, music videos and is preparing to drops his third album Hard 2 B Fresh this year. 


We caught up with Cazwell to talk being gay in hip hop, PrideFest and more.



We’re really looking forward to having you headline PrideFest this year. What do you have in store for St. Louis audiences? 



I want to have a good, fun time while I’m there. I’ll have a few outfit changes – I’ll probably find out what songs you want to hear before I’m there and test out some new songs that are going to come out later this summer. So the kids will get a good taste of the old and the new and the current. 



What drew you to hip hop music early on?



I just always wanted to be a rock star and be able to be on stage and I can’t sing, so then I started rapping. I was in a rap group when I was really young called Morplay and we broke up in early 2000 and then I’ve been solo.



You mentioned you can’t sing and that’s why you do hip hop – how would you describe your sound?



Ultimately, when I make a song, I try to make it in terms of what I would play as a Djay – what makes me want to get on the dance floor. So, I would definitely call it dance-floor-heavy music but not necessarily like Electronic Dance. I mean I do have some of that stuff on my new album and I’ve done stuff in the realm of House and ED music before. But one thing I miss in hip hop now is that there’s a rare release in hip hop that’s played in a club. It’s all kind of like hard to dance to and really slow and everyone’s so focused on being a gangster that it’s not about having a good time anymore. I’m a big fan of 90’s hip hop, so that was when it was crazy on the dance floor and people were going bananas on the dance floor with hip hop. All my songs on the new album are definitely easy to dance to.  



I know you’ve partnered with a lot of the divas from Ga Ga to Manila Luzon, etc. That collaboration with your hip hop style definitely lends itself more to the club too. 



Yeah, I mean the song I did with Manila was more of a classic House track, but I wanted her to rap on it. It’s kind of inspired by that song “Fierce” by Azealia Banks but also by a lot of 90s hip hop, 90s House. I wanted to do something that she could perform in the clubs too – more gay club oriented. But when I found out I was working with Manila, I was like, ‘yeah, I’m gonna make you rap.’



I read where you said it’s difficult to be a gay man in hip hop. How has that driven you as an artist?



I think it’s influenced me to make songs that are relatable as possible and also to just use my sense of humor. I know I can talk about sex a lot, but I just want to be funny too. I know if I keep it light and comical then it stays relatable to people within the gay boy string. Besides songs like “Guess What?” or “I Seen Beyonce at Burger King” or “No Selfie Control” – I have a new song coming out “Dance Like You Have Good Credit.”  



I just feel like my sense of humor kind of transcends – because I am a cool person as long as I can be myself. That’s one of the things that I love about hip hop and that’s what I love about music is that I can be unique and just be myself. 



What’s’ your favorite number to perform right now?



I really love to perform “Guess What?” because it’s really high energy and I was just on tour with Luciana and performing that track with her. That’s always gonna be a favorite and gets the crowd hyped up. And I really like to perform “No Selfie Control” because I usually just film myself with my camera while I sing it front of everybody. 



You’re in a relationship – how do you balance your public and private life? 



It’s all one, for the most part.  I don’t really feel like I’m any different from anybody else, but believe me I am. I choose what I want people to know about me – If I’m seeing somebody I won’t post of pictures of us together. When it comes to things that are sacred to me I just let people know what I want them to know. But when it comes to relationships, the person I’m seeing, I let them know everything as far as what goes on on stage and stuff. There’s nothing really to tell, you know. I go on stage, I do my job and meet my fans. I don’t go sleeping with my fans anytime recently. When I’m with somebody I make them feel very secure so no one has any reason to think that I’ll go sleeping around. I don’t get my dick dirty. 



What artists inspire you?



There’s been so many but the first one that comes to mind is Missy Elliott. I love her, I would love to work with her, I would love to watch her work. From the moment I laid eyes on her she’s just been a big inspiration and she’s just a perfect combination of musical and visual artistry. So I hope that she continues to make music and produce music as I’m sure she will (as she promised me on Twitter.)  She really inspires me. Nicki Minaj really inspires me too. But the people I work with really inspire me. I’m really lucky to be working with the producers I am on this album and they keep me pushing forward. 



What does PRIDE mean to Cazwell?



Pride to me is something that is 365 days a year, it’s not just on gay pride weekend. Pride means that you stand up for what you know is right and stand against what you know is wrong and fight against injustice. 



I have a particular connection with gay men – I have a big gay male fan base.  The message that I really want to get across to gay men this year is that transgender people, especially transgender women and transgender people of color are part of the same fight and that we all need to have each other’s back and that we’re all a minority and have to fight together. 



One thing that stuck with me this year was the death of Islan Nettles. She was a 21-year-old transgender woman who was beaten to death up in Harlem by a guy names Paris Wilson. He had walked by her and realized she was transgender and beat her over and over in the face and she was put into a coma for three days and she died. All that happened to him was he was arrested for like 12-hours and he received a charge for battery that was dismissed. He never got charged with the murder. 



I think that part of Pride is being angry and I think we need to be angry when there’s been a major injustice – we have to fight for that. I hope that gay men see that… Pride to me also feels like sticking up for your brothers and sisters, not just for yourselves.





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