Premiere: Cakes Da Killa Feat. Rye Rye "Gon Blow" (Video)

Don't you ever underestimate Young Cakes. 

It’s been two years since Cakes da Killa’s bizarre Hot 97 interview with Ebro and Peter Rosenberg. For those who are unfamiliar, Ebro praised the emcee’s skills but said that because of the lyrical content, the music wasn’t for him. The session got even more strange when Rosenberg implied that Cakes should hook up with his lesbian assistant, following it up with the mind-boggling “Is it directly penis that interests you the most?” To his credit, Cakes laughed off the query: “Oh, this cannot be a serious question. Yes, it’s directly the penis that excites me.”

There’s no bad blood, though — in fact, Ebro invited him to be a guest on his Beats1 show. And it’s not just the Hot 97 personality who’s taken notice; DJ heavyweight Diplo tweeted that he liked Cakes’ latest album, Hedonism.

But Cakes is more than the sum of his cosigns, and his latest visual, for the Rye Rye–assisted “Gon Blow,” is proof. Cakes talked to us about the mesmerizing clip, premiering on VIBE today, as well as hip-hop's relationship with the queer community and his dream collaborators: “I just need someone like Missy Elliott to put me in an incubator for, like, six months, and then it’s, like, done. I'll even go back in the closet at this point.”

What is the inspiration behind the "Gon Blow" visual?
The visual is a collaboration with myself, photographer Eric Johnson and animator Ben Marlowe. For me, the track is all about movement, so we included some B-roll from a party Eric and I threw. Ben's animations helped add some dance sequences to the video, because dance culture influences my music a lot, and I feel there is a disconnect between that and rap culture lately.

When did you discover ballroom culture?
I discovered ballroom culture in high school via YouTube clips. For me, ballroom culture is the new B-boy, in a sense, where a community releases a lot of tension and pain through movement and art. During the time I discovered these clips, I also discovered artists like Jay Pendarvis on MySpace, who made tracks people could vogue to. That sound had a huge influence on what would become my rap style in the future, as far as cadence and speed.

What music did you listen to growing up?
Well, growing up, music wasn't really my thing. It wasn't until my cousin introduced me to different types of music. Going through her CD collections I found No Doubt, Alanis Morissette, more alternative music. Obviously I'm black, so hip-hop is always around. It's very much like a second language around the neighborhood.

The artists that I gravitate towards say “fuck the system.” They kind of do what they want to do, like Peaches or Beth Ditto. Or in the hip-hop realm, people like Lil’ Kim and Busta Rhymes. People who kind of don't really ascribe to playing by this formula. They come in and change shit up.

There was a lot of homophobia in '90s rap music. Did that ever faze you?
No. I feel like rap gets this very negative [reputation] for being very homophobic, but there's homophobia in all genres of music. It didn't really bother me because I realize that rap is made up of different people with different opinions.

A few recent events have shown a shift toward queer acceptance in the hip-hop world: Yung Thug wore a dress on his Jeffery album cover, and Young M.A had a top 20 hit on the Hot 100. Do you feel like any of those moments were groundbreaking?
I think overall as far as visibility, I think that it is cool, but to be critical, masculine female rappers have been making rap music for years. That's really not reinventing the wheel. The problem is more so if you're a feminine artist: If you’re a gay male or transgender, that's the issue. I mean, congratulations to Young M.A to getting that, but that's not really groundbreaking.

For the Young Thug moment, that's fab that people are now taking fashion and being more gender-fluid. But gay people have been doing that forever: It’s kind of still straight privilege. For Young M.A to put on a dress — I mean Young Thug, but that’s fucking funny — for Young Thug to put a dress on is kind of like progressive. But for me to put on a dress, it’s not progressive. There’s a double standard.

Do you think there is a shift toward queer inclusiveness in hip-hop?
There's not this panel of people in hip-hop who are saying "we are being more welcoming to gay people." You have to keep in mind that hip-hop kind of came about after disco. The early rappers were kind of in the same places as gay people. You could even look at the early rap stars. They look kind of flamboyant. You know what I'm saying? It’s not really like there's a question of hip-hop. It's more so when the '90s came about, and there was that whole wave of hypermasculine, gangster rap music, which is what we're still in now. That's the problem. It's not rap or hip-hop, it's that whole toxic masculinity.

A lot of your lyrics are implicitly gay. A lot of gay musicians...
[Laughs] Well, I am implicitly gay.

Ha! A lot of openly gay musicians shy away from their queerness. Do you think it’s important to vocalize your queerness?
When I started making music, I never really thought that anyone would hear my music. Why would I be taken seriously? For me to be out, it wasn't an issue.

There are some privileges for being mysterious or not using specific gender pronouns in love songs. There is a kind of marketability to that. Do I get some setback for talking about blow jobs? Yes. But does that also empower some kids in Ohio? Yes. I think it's more so a gambling thing. What do you really want to do with the record.

My grandmother had a gay best friend, and when he would come over for the holidays he was fabulous. He had money, he wore a mink coat. We all loved him. That was a positive reassurance: that if you were gay, you would be loved. My first viewing of seeing gay people on television was the Stonewall riots documentary. For me, gay people were never painted as “less than” or “weaker than.” We were people that started revolutions and bought nice clothes.

Do you think the hip-hop world is ready to move out of gangster rap and embrace a queer superstar?
I think hip-hop is definitely the most mainstream it's ever been. It's always gonna have that "gangster" in itself, because everybody wants to be a damn gangster for some reason. I've always pointed the mirror back at the community. Obviously a fraternity in Atlanta probably isn’t going be into my record. I can make peace with that. The gay club in New York, though? You guys should be supporting me. The music isn't that bad, you know what I'm saying? The gays sustain a lot of these older divas who are still performing at Pride festivals. I feel like we should support each other.

If you got to hop on any mainstream pop star's track, who would you want to work with?
Definitely Nicki Minaj. Definitely.

That would be phenomenal. Why that hasn't happened yet?
Well, I'm not that big yet. I just need someone like Missy Elliott to put me in an incubator for, like, six months, and then it’s, like, done. I'll even go back in the closet at this point. I've been out long enough. I can go back in and start over. I came out in the third grade, I've proved enough already.

Wait, so you actually came out in the third grade?
Why would I lie about that? I told you my first piece of gay cinema was a documentary on Stonewall. I literally was ready to tell my mom I'm gay, and if she didn’t like it I was just gonna run away and live on the pier.

Diplo tweeted that he liked your album. When is that collaboration happening?
Sooner the fucking better, I hope! I don't know. Diplo is a very busy person and I'm a very busy girl, but I'm down. I'm sure it'll happen down the line sooner or later. I'm just constantly working on my own shit now. I have to strike while it's hot. I'm not getting any younger.

What's next for you?
I'm about to drop some new singles for the fall, prepping for a European tour and finalizing a new project with a whole new sound. I've been working in the same vein artistically for a few years, and I'm interested in using another side of my brain. I'm trying to be on the freshman XXL cover before I'm too old.

Cakes Da Killa Official Tour Dates
Sat Aug 26 Brooklyn - Afropunk Festival
Sun Aug 27 Chicago - Oakwood Beach
Tue Aug 29 Tel Aviv - Gagarin Club
Thu Aug 31 Berlin - YAMM
Fri Sep 1 Sopot - Soundrive Festival
Sat Sep 2 Oslo - Blaa
Mon Sep 4 Copenhagen - Ideal Bar
Wed Sep 6 Malmo - Inknst
Fri Sep 8 London -Jazz Cafe
Sun Sep 10 Dorset - Bestival
Wed Sep 13 Brno - Fleda
Thu Sep 14 Zurich - Exil
Fri Sep 15 Dudingen - Bad Bonn
Sat Sep 16 Paris - Smile Festival
Fri Sep 29 Lincoln - Lincoln Calling Festival
Fri Oct 6 Haverford - Haverford College
Sat Oct 21 Bristol - Simple Things Festival @ SWX Stage
Sat Oct 28 Tromso - Insomnia Festival

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New Music: Alicia Keys, Tiye Phoenix, Marc Rebillet & LA's Problem All Drop Heat

Alicia Keys is back with her full length album, Alicia and the wait has been too long for us in music land. After a four year hiatus, Keys returns and her lead off single with Khalid "So Done" has that AK soul that we love. This album seems to find Keys at her most free, as the pressures of making a hit album is behind her. The piano is her companion and compliments her so well, however, lyrics and the songwriting is what AK prides herself on most. Get with her today at 6pm with American Express as she will perform on Youtube here.

For those that still haven't gotten the memo, let me put it in caps...LA'S DOPE MC, PROBLEM IS A HIP-HOP GREAT! Now that we have that out the way, let's get on the line about how his Coffee & Kush Vol. 2 album is even more introspective and transparent than Vol. 1 which was released earlier this year. The song, "Keep Ya Head" is the perfect soul sonic detail for what we have gone through as a society. Letting the listener know to keep their head on in these trying times, while helping those around you that you care about. It's a step-by-step rule book on how to maintain and raise up others. Visually on point video and album packaging wise (big shout to VIBE contributor Laetitia Rumford on the cover art), Problem has us ready for the upcoming final project of the Coffee & Kush trilogy.

To rise through adversity is to prove to yourself that you are built for the game of life that is really no game at all. That's why when people enter industries that don't mesh with their ideals but the spirit compels them to have to salute them. So here we have a goddess of an MC in Tiye Phoenix, who earlier this year dropped the illustrious 9-track project, The Master's Program. A woman of many words wrapped in astro-heavy flows, she continues to shed light in the dark spaces of your mind with furious rhymes of deep thought and enlightened spirit. To have her still making music that hits with the power of righteous rebellion is a blessing for us all and it's evident on her latest offering, The Glow EP. From the inspiring opening words, TP proceeds to smash track after track with a strong vocal tone that could rival your hardest voiced male MC yet has a honey tone to make the lessons go down smooth. Peace Queen.

The amount of music that gets released these days is so overwhelming that the joy of listening to such quantity turns to anxiety in trying to catch it all...but what a wonderful problem to have. Like just before trying to write this weekly round up, I ran across an IG post by the Triple OG @ICET. He shared the musical genius of the sometimes shirtless, but usually silk robe rocking @marcrebillet. He's made a name for himself on social media by making up super groovy tunes as the DJ entertainment at restaurants and showcasing his beat building skills in his simple audio set up in his Brooklyn apartment. Get a load of the intensely dope space funk jam (I've had it on repeat for the last 30mins) "You And Me." With a co-sign from the Queen Badu herself, trust that he's one to watch folks.


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A post shared by Marc Rebillet (@marcrebillet) on Sep 18, 2020 at 7:05am PDT


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Stonebwoy Spits Hot Fire On His "Blaze Dem" Freestyle

Stonebwoy had nothing much to prove when he and his entourage—known as the BHIM Nation—rolled up on a fleet of motorbikes this past weekend to a highly anticipated battle with fellow artist, Shatta Wale, his biggest rival for the title of Africa's Dancehall King. Stonebwoy has come a long way since his humble beginnings in Ashaiman, a seaside town on the outskirts of Accra, the capital city of Ghana.

The internationally renowned West African artist developed his own distinctive musical style, which he describes as Afro-Dancehall, fusing Jamaican dancehall and patois with Afrobeats, hip hop slang, and the local dialect Ewe. He established his own independent company, the Burniton Music Group, as well as a charitable organization, the Livingstone Foundation. He's also earned numerous accolades over the course of his career. He was named Best International Act at the 2015 BET Awards. He has won several Ghana Music Awards, including Artist of the Year. He collaborated with Morgan Heritage on the group's Grammy-nominated 2017 album Avrakedabra and recorded singles with many of Jamaica's top dancehall artists, including Grammy-winners Sean Paul and Beenie Man. His latest album, Anloga Junction, features a hit collab with VIBE cover artist Keri Hilson as well as Nasty C, a South African rapper who signed to Def Jam in March.

Stonebwoy entered the clash arena wearing a full-face gas mask, leaving no doubt that he was taking this competition very seriously. Sponsored by Ghana's Ministry of Health and broadcast by Asaasse Radio in Accra, the virtual clash between him and Shatta Wale was designed to raise proceeds to "crush COVID 19"—but Stonebwoy's mask was more suited for mortal combat than preventing Coronavirus. The first of the 40 songs he unleashed against his nemesis was a hard-hitting new freestyle called "Blaze Dem." Shortly after the clash, Stonebwoy released a music video for the track, featuring visual highlights from the hard-fought battle against Shatta, which has been compared to the epic Verzuz clash between Beenie Man and Bounty Killer.

Best known to international audiences for his appearance on "Already," a Major Lazer–produced from Beyonce's album Black is King, Shatta's provocative style included theatrics, personal insults, and throwing money all over the stage. Stonebwoy, on the other hand, let his melodies, lyrics, and big tunes do the talking. You can watch the full battle here, and stay tuned for Stonebwoy's live chat with Reshma B of Boomshots today at 2 pm ET / 6 pm GT on VIBE's Instagram Live.

Stream his latest album, Anloga Junction, on Apple Music, Spotify, and/or Tidal.

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Toots Hibbert performing at Hammersmith Palais, London in 1983.
Photo by David Corio/Redferns

Remembering Toots Hibbert

The best singers don’t need too many words to make their point. Otis Redding could let loose with a sad sad song like “Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa” and get you all in your feelings. Bob Marley got pulses pounding with his “Whoi-yoooo” rebel yell. Gregory Isaacs melted hearts with nothing more than a gentle sigh. Toots Hibbert, who died last Friday at the age of 77, could sing just about anything and make it sound good. One of the world's greatest vocalists in any genre, Toots paired his powerful voice with the understated harmonies of Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Mathias to form The Maytals, a vocal trinity that never followed fashion and remained relevant throughout the evolution of Jamaican music—from the ska era to rock steady straight through to reggae, a genre named after The Maytals' 1968 classic “Do The Reggay.”

Whether they were singing a sufferer’s selection (“Time Tough”), a churchical chant (“Hallelujah”), or the tender tale of a country wedding (“Sweet and Dandy”), The Maytals blew like a tropical storm raining sweat and tears. The lyrics to Six and Seven Books,” one of The Maytals' earliest hits, are pretty much just Toots listing the books of the Bible. “You have Genesis and Exodus,” he declares over a Studio One ska beat, “Leviticus and Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua, Judges and Ruth...” Having grown up singing in his parents' Seventh Day Adventist Church in the rural Jamaican town of May Pen, Toots knew the Good Book well.

The Maytals broke out worldwide in 1966 thanks to the song “Bam Bam,” which won Jamaica's first-ever Independence Festival Song Competition, held during the first week of August as the island nation celebrated both independence from Great Britain in 1862 and emancipation in 1834. They would go on to win the coveted title two more times, but “Bam Bam” was a singular song with a message every bit as powerful as Toots' voice. “I want you to know that I am the man," Toots sang. He was young and strong, ready to "fight for the right, not for the wrong." The trajectory of "Bam Bam" would not only transform Toots' life but make waves throughout popular music worldwide.

"Festival in Jamaica is very important to all Jamaicans," the veteran singer stated in a video interview this past summer while promoting his latest entry into the annual competition. "I must tell you that I won three festivals in Jamaica already, which is “Bam Bam,” “Sweet & Dandy” and “Pomp & Pride.” Toots described that first festival competition as a joyous occasion. "Everybody just want to hear a good song that their children can sing," he recalled. "Is like every artist could be a star."

In 2016, on the 50th anniversary of "Bam Bam" winning first place, Toots looked back over the legacy of the tune that made him a star. "I didn’t know what it means but it was a big deal," he told Boomshots. "You in the music business and you want to be on top and you write a good song and you go on this competition and if they like it then it becomes #1." After The Maytals won, the group was in demand not just all over the island, but all over the world. "We start fly out like a bird," he says with a laugh. "Fly over to London."

"Bam Bam" went on to inspire numerous cover versions, starting with Sister Nancy, Yellowman, and Pliers. It would also be sampled in numerous hip hop classics, and interpolated into Lauryn Hill's "Lost Ones." But according to Toots, he did not benefit financially from these endless cover versions. "People keep on singing it over and over and over, and they don’t even pay me a compliment," he told Boomshots. "I haven’t been collecting no money from that song all now."


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“This man don’t trouble no one... but if you trouble this man it will bring a Bam Bam” Original Maytals Classic @tootsmaytalsofficial 🎶 All them a talk, them nuh bad like Niya Fiya Ball ☄️🔥💥 via @tonyspreadlove . 💥💣🔫#Boomshots

A post shared by Word Sound & Power (@boomshots) on Sep 12, 2020 at 8:19am PDT

When Toots began singing in his parents' church, music was not seen as a career prospect, and the profits were slim for Jamaican recording artists in the 1960s. "Those days we get 14 cents for the record to play on the radio," Toots said. "I get three shillings and five shillings for a number one record, which I had 31 number one record in Jamaica... It’s not about money for me. It’s about the quality that Jamaicans need to go back in the festival jamboree... You gotta talk to the children."

On the poignant “54-46 (Was My Number),” Toots recalls the dehumanization of his arrest and 18-month imprisonment at Jamaica's Richmond Farm Correctional Center for what he always insisted was a trumped-up ganja charge just as his music career was taking off. The song's crescendo comes two minutes in when Toots breaks into a scat solo that cannot be translated into any language known to man, delivered with palpable passion that made his message universal. During Toots' ecstatic stage performances he would follow this riff by commanding his band to “Give it to me... one time!” Then the 'd make 'em say Uh!  (Way before Master P!) “Give it to me... two times!” Uh! Uh! And so on and so forth until Toots worked the place into a frenzy.

The Maytals' live show was so explosive that Toots began touring all over the world, opening for rock megastars like The Rolling Stones and The Who. While Bob Marley richly deserved the title King of Reggae, his friend Toots was performing internationally before The Wailers, and remained a force to be reckoned with throughout his life, blazing a trail for generations of reggae artists to follow in his footsteps.

On his Grammy-winning 2004 album True Love, Toots recorded some of his greatest hits with a host of legendary artists, many of whom were also good friends, including Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, and Eric Clapton. His 2006 cover of Radiohead's "Let Down" was a favorite of the band's, who used to play it on their tour bus. Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood called Toots’ version “truly astounding,” according to Easy Star Records Michael Goldwasser.

Toots supported himself and his family by touring all over the world. During a 2013 show in Richmond, Virginia he was singing John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads" when a teenager in the crowd threw a vodka bottle at the stage and hit him on the head. He suffered a concussion and had to stop touring for several years. As his first album in a decade, Got To Be Tough was highly anticipated when it was released on Trojan Jamaica label August 28. On the cover the former boxer and lifelong fighter can be seen throwing a punch. Just a day after the album dropped, Toots came down with symptoms similar to COVID 19. Within a few days he was hospitalized where doctors placed him into a medically induced coma from which he never recovered. As his Tidal obituary pointed out, he passed away exactly 33 years after his old friend Peter Tosh died by gunfire.

Songs like "Just Brutal" from the hit different now, with Toots pleading for more love in a world gone wrong. "We were brought here," Toots sings. "Sold out. Victimized brutally. Every time I keep remembering what my grandfather said before he died."

“I’m feeling alright,” Toots said the last time we spoke, while he was still sidelined with stress issues due to the bottle-throwing incident. "I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling just cool because is Jah works. You seet?" I asked him if the song "Bam Bam," was about him—a peaceful man who should not be provoked—or else. "Nooo don't trouble him," Toots said with a laugh. "It’s gonna be double trouble, triple trouble. A lot of trouble."

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