Mykki Blanco is 6 foot 2 and wears only a PVC mini-skirt which deftly shows off a muscly torso, scrawled over with enough tattoos to make anyone not used to seeing a 6 foot 2, muscly, PVC mini-skirt-wearing rapper stamp about on a too-small stage feel a little on edge.
The performance artist Mykki Blanco started out as a teenage girl persona rapping on Youtube, and by 2012 turned into a transgressive mainstay of the queer or ‘gay rap’ sub-genre, along with Le1f and Zebra Katz. Mykki Blanco cites inspiration from the ‘Queercore’ movement of the early nineties, a provocative and politically-minded subculture that re-addressed the imbalance present in the straight, male-dominated punk scene by making art, being aggressive, and being gay.
After coming out as HIV positive on social media and recording a full-length album, Mykki, featuring a number of songs that could be described as ‘personal’ and ‘almost like pop’, Mykki Blanco still treads the transgressive line of violent femininity and macho aloofness from previous work.
Blanco starts the set by asking the sweaty room of the Exchange how we’re doing, through seemingly gritted teeth and a blasé flick of blonde weave. Then, over a more resonating and anxiety-inducing bass level than I am used to, starts the quickfire torrent of a queerly-reimagined version of the battle-rap narrative on Fendi Band; comical, political, riotous and sweary.
The set veers from comic, bitchy petulance to a freestyle poetic-ness in the acapella Interludes, and the crowd at the Exchange ride the same stand-offish/intimateness of Blanco’s persona. Most of the songs ask in some way about ‘Who the fuck I am’ and the crowd seem delighted when Blanco shows off Vogue dance moves, confidence in being Black and Riot Grrl intensity.
Enormously fun, Mykki Blanco’s set, by just occurring, is a work of importance for visibility and a step towards ‘changing the game’.