Faggots, Whoremoans, and It Girls: A Conversation with Mister Wallace

The first time I met Mister Wallace, he was frolicking about a wooded wonderland in skimpy feminine attire, his head adorned with a wig of long black micro-braids.  I like to think he was sucking a lollipop but I'm not sure if that's just how my mind wanted to remember the fun, playful creature before me: tall, black, proud, beautiful, and free.  Days later, as I unsuspectingly lay at an open mic talent show in an open pavilion, he and his rap partner Ace took to the stage with heavy wooden rods, pounding into the floor with bombastic force, before laying into a heavy ammunition execution of spit-fire raps with a ferocity and authenticity rarely seen in live performance.

I had already been a fan of Banjee Report, he and Ace's rap duo project, but it wasn't until this moment that I realized the man spitting fire before my very eyes was one and the same as the enchanted being I had been watching prance about for the past several days.  Juxtaposing beauty and brute, he was as hard as the heavyweights with a presence that was equally soft as silk.   Enthralled in the performance and the lyrics, it was at this moment I realized Mister Wallace was a kinetic artistic force.  It was at this moment that I realized Mr. Wallace was a fucking faggot.

And so with no surprise (but much delight) did I discover that Mister Wallace was releasing his first EP under the aptly titled FAGGOT.  I guess that might come off as strong or even offensive to some, but rap has never been an art form for restraint of expression.  I hit up Mister Wallace to talk about this and his newly released EP, the inner workings of his music and life, and what's next.

 


The term FAGGOT is obviously a controversial word, even dividing queer audiences in its appropriateness as a term to be used in civilized conversation.  What’s your intention for spotlighting it as the title of your EP?

In 2008, Nas wanted to call his album Nigger but was met with backlash from within and outside the black community. I wanted to draw parallels to the struggle of queer men, specifically black queer men, as we experience a lot of sexual oppression from within our communities as well as outside our communities. I also notice that many of my peers have made headlines in the media with the term "Gay rap" being tossed around.

Whats the difference between rap and gay rap?

None.

What's the difference between Nas wanting to highlight the cultural lies and articulate his cultural truth with me wanting to highlight my own?

The answer is none.

I'm claiming FAGGOT. I'm owning FAGGOT. FAGGOT is not about gender or orientation, it’s about style and aesthetic. A FAGGOT is someone whose queerness varies from moment to moment. A FAGGOT knows their femininity doesn't undermine their masculinity, but instead compliment one another in such a way that leaves most people enamored with such presence. The perspective isn't stuck in a binary but lives in a space where anything is possible and everything is celebrated.

 

It’s clear that your music thematically embraces topics of gender and sex.  Talk about your point of view and motivations.

As someone who grew up listening to rap, my queer sensibility always drew me to female rappers, i.e. Lil Kim, Trina, etc. . . Rappers in general have always discussed sex, courting, and mating rituals (see “My Neck, My Back”). I wanted to offer songs in that vein but from a new perspective, i.e. “PPlay.”

 

You use the term “pussy” pretty freely.

I use the term pussy because I feel it's a beautiful and powerful word. Anything feminine and all things woman should be honored and I wanted to honor the woman on my album because I adore women. However, I respect all expressions of womanhood and would never want anyone to feel left out of my music so I won't make any proclamations of what a pussy is and is not.

 

It's also clear that you are passionate about the current cultural dialogue on race in America.  Where do you think we are and where we are going?  Do you have feelings about how other races have embraced, and in many instances appropriated, rap and hip-hop?

Rap, a black invention like jazz, rock, and all other American genres of music, has definitely been consumed by white audiences and appropriated for their cultural prestige.  The largest consumer of hip-hop/rap is the white male; so you do the math.  Where are we? Despite us electing a mixed race president twice, we are exactly right where we started. And where are we going? With a Trump presidency potentially on the rise I dare not speculate. However, I do know everything is at risk now.
 


You started out in Chicago, and are currently based in NYC.  At what point did you start exploring the sides of yourself that weren't masculine, that were counter to what society expects of a black man?

My mom had a Versace shirt that my cousin Charles originally owned; it was a beautiful silk blouse with a loud pattern. He passed due to complications with AIDS. She freaked when she found out I wore it to school. I know she would be furious if she knew I wanted to wear her shoes. I played more with dressing up when I moved out of our house into a dorm. I was rocking a black knit skirt to class before Marc Jacobs started making it trendy at her fashion shows.

 

You've traveled all over as a performer.  What are some of the biggest differences you’ve seen in culture in the various places you’ve traveled, and how does the south compare?

I've traveled a lot due to my art but I traveled just as much before. I lived in Amsterdam when I was working for a Dutch suiting company, and while I was there, I loved reading the newspaper. We don't realize how bad/biased our journalism is until we see it from an outsider's perspective.

In America, I find pockets of educated people. I find pockets of cultured individuals ready to see something new. What I don't see is those people venturing out of those pockets or returning home to change the places they were brought up. It seems like America is running from all the things it hates about itself but that only allows those parts to grow and become stronger.

 

We’re finally seeing talented queer male rappers break into what once was a hetero-monopolized realm of musical exposure and appreciation.  But we still haven’t seen any fag rappers truly experience mainstream success.  What’s your point of view on this?  What it would take for a crossover act to be successful?  We know there are DL mainstream rappers, do you think their careers would be over if their truth were exposed?

Masculinity is fragile. Masculinity is frail. The reason we don't see mainstream queer rappers is the same reason we don't see many mainstream female rappers. The largest consumers are "straight" white guys so when we have a faggot that appeals to them, I think we will have our mainstream gay rapper.

 

Who do you consider your contemporaries?

Anyone with GarageBand and a dream.

 

What artists have inspired you?

The Original Mister Wallace, Biggie. Jill Scott. Philip Glass.

 

Who are the best rappers in the game right now?

It's aCeb00mbaP vs. Cakes Da Killa.

 

Who do you want to work with?

Young Thug & Jay Boogie.

 

Your skills up till now have been best known as part of the rap duo Banjee Report.  What’s the status of that partnership?

We just released the STRONG BODY OF WERK mix and THE PERFECT SPELL mix via HONCHO’s podcast. Look for our album later this year as well as other exciting projects that have yet to be announced.

 

What’s your ultimate ambition with your art?  What message do you want people to walk away with?

I want to impact the world. I want to be a healer of ideas. Walk away blessed.

 

What’s next?

The Presidency. I want on Kanye’s Cabinet.

 


You can get FAGGOT by Mister Wallace here.  <---  http://misterwallace.bandcamp.com/releases

HRO is a professional nerd, retired rapper, and radical superhero. You can usually find him at The Ranch drinking scotch in slutty underwear.