A TALK WITH TRAPCRY ON MUSIC, DEFYING STANDARDS, AND NEW PROJECTS
Written by: Devyn Springer
In a new class of of artists who are breaking from the traditional molds of hip-hop and R&B, words like “innovation” and “interesting” take on new meanings with different nuances. This up and coming class of artists are those who’ve not only existed on the internet, but thrived on it, and created entire aesthetics within it. Trapcry, an interesting artist whose music cannot be put into one genre, is a part of this new class, with music that is perfect for “dancing and partying” just as much as “drinking a bottle of Port wine and being moody in the house.”
With a visual aesthetic that communicates a mysterious, almost sensual darkness, Trapcry invites us into his world in ways that challenges musical norms. Songs like “Toyfriend” and “Hot Boyz” are not only difficult to place into genres, jumping freely between hip-hop and new R&B, but they also go against the heteronormative grains we’ve been conditioned to. With a sing-rapping style which sounds like a strange but wonderful mix between Ke$ha, Migos, and early Usher, he talks about ‘hitting the stage’ and ‘looking for the hot boys.’ Playfully and masterfully altering the gender dynamic in his songs, we get a new and fun sound that is as much entertainment as it is interesting.
On his latest album, Blonde Ambition, we get a confident and comfortably powerful version of himself. The sense of self, as well as the feeling of listening to a Black queer artist existing in his truth, shines through in every track. I got the chance to speak with Trapcry, and he had a lot to say about his music style, influences, his latest project, and being a Black queer artist.
I guess one of the first questions I want to ask you is the simplest. But where did you get the name “Trapcry” from, because I find it super interesting?
When I made the conscious decision to identify as gay in my music, I wanted to be a movement against the cliche black masculine hip-hop culture—that everything is so aggressive, and you have to be thugged out for street cred. With the name Trapcry, I could be emotional, talk about smoking blunts with men, be black gay magic in love and enjoying myself without feeling boxed in.
You seem to be a crazy creative force. Your Soundcloud is so full of music, and you have so many dope collabs, like your song Brand New featuring one of my favorite rappers, Big Momma. What inspires you to be so creative?
Every time I write a song, I'm writing it with a persona that I'm like Brandy, Britney Spears, Gaga, Rihanna, Missy, or Bey. I always approach the mic thinking I'm a pop diva in my head. I don't think anything really inspires me to be creative, it's just who I am, I wake up every morning with an idea to do something and most of the time I make it my goal to bring the idea to life. In addition, working with people like Big Momma or like my favorite guitarist, Nick Pfab help me redefine ideas/sounds playing in my head. Collaborations are the key to making your sound bigger and better.
More than just the music, your entire aesthetic is very artistic and original. Visually, lyrically, you shine on the internet with track names like “stevie bricks” and different mysterious and interesting images of yourself. How would you describe your own aesthetic?
A part of me wants to be polished, but I'm so rough around the edges. Recently people have been categorizing my aesthetic into a sexualized bearded daddy space, which is cool. Sexy is always relatable because there's something sexy about everyone. People also tell me that I'm a little mysterious, but I guess I just like to leave things open for interpretation.
The Delaware native has spent time in Atlanta, and the southern influence can be heard throughout his music (on “Stevie Bricks” he raps, “woke up at Swinging Richards/ I took the racks out” with Swinging Richards being a notorious gay strip club in Atlanta) but it is in Richmond, Virginia where he’s honed his craft. However, what makes his music so interesting is that, besides a few references and sonic influences, the sound can’t be pinned down to a location. Blonde Ambition sounds much more like a walk through his mind than a walk through his city, and that’s important.
Trapcry is half of the duo terracotta mafia, a band formed with him and internet songstress Siiren. While he has released several solo projects, he has also put out music with terracotta mafia, making his collection impressively prolific. He has several albums, EPs, features, and singles all across the internet and his Soundcloud page is a long scroll of juicy soundwaves.
His album Blonde Ambition came out last year at a, well, ambitious timing. For Black queer artists, 2016 felt like a huge year. We had releases from Frank Ocean, as well as long awaited albums from both Cakes Da Killa and Mykki Blanco, not to mention a Christmas album from Big Freedia and a debut drop from Siya. To put it simply, it was a musical assault on cishetero-normativity in the industry. So the fact that Trapcry is able to exist and thrive on the internet within this rising market, alongside industry heavyweights whose work is beginning to get mainstream exposure (think Big freedia on Beyonce’s “Formation” and Young M.A’s “Ooouuu”), is impressive. What’s even more impressive is that he has no plans of slowing down now, and plans to not only create waves but ride them.
You released an album a few months ago in 2016, Blonde Ambition. Tell me about it.
To understand Blonde Ambition, you would have to start with my previous album "Thanks, Anyway." Thanks, Anyway was inspired by this strange break up I had when this boy I was dating ghosted on me, and it fucked me up emotionally a little bit. I recorded that album in a weekend and it helped jumpstart my drive to release music as an outlet for whatever was going on with my life. Fast forward to Blonde Ambition; I was 29 when I recorded it, so I wanted it to be a reflection of all of my experiences with guys in my 20s. In contrast to my last album, Blonde Ambition is more bright and poppy. I want to tell other black gays in their 20s that it's okay to get in fucked up relationship situations, you're not alone, we're young. It's all about the journey and learning to love yourself and your mistakes.
One of the first things I noticed when listening to Blonde Ambition is that I can’t pin your sound down to any specific genre or location. The album meshes together hip-hop, pop, and even R&B influences perfectly. Who are some people w that have influenced your sound, and how are you able to create such unique vibes in your music?
My parents were always playing Funkadelic/Parliament, Marvin Gaye, Anita Baker, and a diverse mesh of jazz/r&b shit. When I wasn't home, I was with my best friend Tanya, who was playing Michael Jackson, Sly and the Family Stone, Bob Marley, Janet Jackson... and then I had another friend Flavee who always put me on to new Soca jams. When I was alone I was listening to the Spice Girls, Missy Elliott, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez... It's extremely hard for me to just do one genre because I love dancing and partying just as much as I like drinking a bottle of Port wine and being moody in the house.
You kind of exist in this new and upcoming class of artists, specifically a league of queer Black artist who are really shining only and influencing different genres. Do you think in the near future we’re going to see more Black queer artists like yourself gaining mainstream praise and attention?
Recently I was lucky enough to do a show with Mykki Blanco and Cakes Da Killa, and as I was watching them perform, I was also watching the diverse crowd that was receiving their performances. I thought to myself, wow they are onto something here and I felt honored to be able to add my piece of experiences to the night. I've also noticed other artists like Kaytranada getting well deserved wide reception and respect. I think today's social media driven music landscape allows for artists like me to get heard and build audiences without having to rely on a label. I also think the world is ready for some new hip-hop perspectives and I'm ready to offer mine.
Who are some of your favorite artists making music at the moment, and which artists you would love to collaborate with in the future?
Depending on my life and mood, j will listen to random things, I've been listening to a lot Anita Baker and Lana Del Rey. Gotta love Drake, Rih and Queen Bey. They are always popping up on shuffle mode. In addition to them, I absolutely love H.E.R. and her entire movement/project. I recently added Kiley Dean’s shelved project with Timbaland back on my iTunes. I love classic leaked moments from 2002 - 2010 that never made it mainstream.
On that note, do you have any dope collaborations coming up you wanna share?
Me and my team are always working on music. You'll be hearing a lot of stuff from me this year including tracks for Kevin Michael and hopefully Joseline Hernandez.
What about the future of your music. Do you have any new work coming up, or any new projects you want to share?
I started work on a new EP with the working title "Dangerous" in January—which I hope to have done by the summer, and the Terracotta Mafia with my partner in crime Siiren (who is on my track "Hot Boyz" from "Blonde Ambition") is coming very soon. I have so much music that I'm sitting on that is almost ready for me to toss out.
Anything else you want to say, sis?
For anyone reading this always follow your heart and dreams. I've always felt fulfilled doing what I do and I thank God every day for waking me up and helping me become a voice for anyone that my music speaks to. You can do hennything!
And follow him on twitter and Instagram @trapcry