Living Authentically and the State of Queer Rap with Will Sheridan

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The following interview originally appeared in WUSSY vol. 4. For more photos and more exclusives, order your copy here, featuring exclusives with Amanda Lepore, Big Dipper, Lucy Stoole, and more. 
 

Will Sheridan is an enigma and he’s not afraid to proclaim it.

One look at his Wikipedia page will tell you the basics, but you’ll still be left scratching your head. He began his professional career as a basketball player, a forward at Villanova University. Then, not long after coming out as gay his freshman year of college (and being among the first NCAA athletes to do so), he began a music career that eventually eclipsed basketball. By 2010, Will Sheridan became fully the out hip-hop-house artist he is today. Now at 33, and a longstanding career based in Brooklyn, he’s got more to say and more to do, and isn’t pulling any punches.

“I am an artist —a rapper— that began to deejay because I throw parties. I curate parties. And I think there’s a lot of parties I go to where they don’t play hip-hop or vogue or music I like to listen to. So that's why I started deejaying, because I wanted to play music I wanted to listen to and people started responding to my deejaying by booking me.” Will Sheridan is the resident DJ at Hot Fruit exists in the best of both worlds: where his deejaying is lauded and booked on its own, and music has a following of its own. Though the two worlds seldom intersect; he very rarely plays his own tracks when he’s deejaying.

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He’s still got struggles of his own though, but they mirror a lot of artist’s reconciliation of art vs commerce. “I’m still trying to debate what’s better: giving away your music or having it on Apple Music and all that. My target audience is everyone.”

"Make your music for you. Perform it with all your heart. And someone will start fuckin’ liking that shit.”

The art of performing hip-hop live was brought up, naturally. Artists have a number of ways of going about taking what they’ve written and performed in-studio and translating it to a live setting, but are they all equal? “I find that mostly with hip-hop artists they either are, like, super hip-hop and want to rap all the words over instrumentals, or they just rap over songs and don’t rap all the words, but neither one of them is as entertaining as me,” Sheridan explains. After asking why, “Because it’s boring. We don’t care about your little, like, super conscious rap that’s not about the queer narrative. And then some of the people that depend on back tracks usually don’t have the energy or enthusiasm behind what they’re doing. I’m like, you’re getting paid to do this, right? This is what you love to do? Put some enthusiasm into it!”

With music thumping in the background of the phone call, “I’m rarely entertained by other rappers”. Will Sheridan said energized. His six-foot-eight stature could be felt over the phone, though the confidence he had over every declaration. This sort of superlative could only be responded with well, who *are* you entertained by? But the question gives him pause. “Um, I mean… I love Le1f. I love Big Dipper live. Dai Burger, Junglepussy, Dick Van Dick, all those people, and Cakes da Killa, too. Everyone else is like, a fraud. I’ve been rapping since 2009, I’ve seen a lot of shit.”

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Though he digresses, “There’s no beef in gay rap. [laughs] Now you’ve got me feelin’ I’m controversial.”

The subject shifts to queer culture, and music as as a whole, and Will Sheridan has choice words for the community and up-and-coming voices, “When you’re talking gay culture and talking music, most queer people don’t even really listen to rap. And if it’s gay? It’s too much for them. They’d rather listen to Lil Wayne eating pussy than Will Sheridan sucking dick. So I would say if someone was just coming up, and their dream is to be a queer rapper and tour the world; make your music for you. Perform it with all your heart. And someone will start fuckin’ liking that shit.”

But what about those of us who are unable to live their most authentic selves? To those people, Will says “Well, my brand is going in never timid—if you’re big enough to be who you are, you’re a giant.”

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“Whatever you’ve got to do to secure your life, do it. If you need to be a little more discreet to be safe, be safe. But don’t beat yourself up that you’re not living this extravagant life cause all of us start somewhere. All of us start somewhere. I wasn’t always this queer radical, six-[foot]-eight, former basketball player being. I was eleven years old. I was an outsider, and I was completely afraid of the future and what was coming.”

Will Sheridan’s advice to others is authenticity. Do whatever it takes to be authentic, real, and alive.

“All I did was challenge myself to be the best at everything I did so that nobody would have any reason to not love me. It may not be healthy, but it’s what I did.”

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Will Sheridan's new EP LexIcon is available now! Check it out here

This story originally ran in WUSSY vol. 4.
For more photos and more exclusives, order your copy here