Last updated: April 03. 2013 1:23AM - 1382 Views
By Jason Riedmiller, Weekender Correspondent



Photos by Jason Riedmiller
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Rapper Mykki Blanco makes the kind of hip-hop that frightens people.

Like Black Power rappers KRS-1 and Chuck D, Blanco challenges the white establishment. Like violence-glorifying gangster rappers N.W.A. and 2Pac, Blanco may be considered a bad influence. This is, however, the new millennium, and hip-hop is the new mainstream.

Hip-hop is Top 40 and big business. The typical white American teen tends be a hip-hop fan and most likely inherited the genre from their parents' CD collection. So what is it about Mykki Blanco that frightens people in 2013?

There were no pronoun typos in this paragraph: Blanco's gender identity provokes people of all ethnicities. Drag and gender identity are among the last surviving taboos in American pop culture, and performance artist Michael David Quattlebaum, Jr. defies taboo as Mykki Blanco.

The rapper brought his edgy rhymes about sex and alternative lifestyles to Wilkes-Barre on Friday, March 29. Downtown Arts, the former First United Methodist Church, was an ironic setting for Blanco's NEPA debut.

EDM DJs started the evening as the enthusiastic and seemingly chemically-enhanced scene kids filled up the small venue. Many came to see the first solo performance of former Tiger's Jaw singer Adam McIlwee. And then there was… nothing.

Mykki Blanco was nowhere to be found, unless, of course, you had a smart phone and Twitter account. As the hour approached midnight, Blanco was still getting ready in the hotel room and posting glam shots of herself to Instagram.

At 12:30 a.m., the nervous tension of Blanco's absence was beginning to dissipate and a few of the college-aged kids began to filter out before the bars closed. Just when it seemed she would be a no-show, the fog machine kicked on. The room filled with an eerie green light and rave-heavy beats. Mykki took the stage dressed in a hoody and skirt combo, adorned with anime characters.

The small but lively crowd soaked up the kind of rage only a transgendered rapper could spit. Mykki Blanco expressed her mélange of angst and joy with rap. S/he is the American dream/nightmare, and that is how you frighten people with hip-hop in 2013.

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