If you haven’t heard of 26 year old ‘queer rap’ star Zebra Katz, prepare to have your mind expanded. Here’s three reasons you need him and his mad skillz in your life:
1. Champion the underdog and all that.
From a performance-art background, Ojay Morgan aka Zebra Katz didn’t exactly have hip hop credentials. He was working as a catering manager in Brooklyn when fashion designer Rick Owens chose the inimitable track ‘Ima Read’ (below) to soundtrack his Fall/Winter fashion week collection. Then Azaelia Banks played it at Karl Lagerfeld’s house party and Diplo gave the guy a record deal. Needless to say Ojay quit his catering job.
2. Let’s be honest, homosexuality and hip hop aren’t three words we often see in the same sentence.
But Zebra Katz falls under a recent group of rappers who have been surprising us. Along with Mykki Blanco, Le1f, Brooke Candy, Angel Haze and others, Zebra Katz has helped to spawn a new sub-genre of ‘queer hip hop’. He might lack Blanco’s drag theatrics and Brooke’s ‘out and proud’ sentiment, but he does take his cues from gay culture. The lyric ‘Ima read you bitch’ for example, is borrowed from the language of the Harlem drag balls immortalised in the 1990 film ‘Paris is Burning’.
3. Zebra Katz sounds fresh, if a little formidable.
His brand of hip hop curveballs the auto-tuned hits that we’re bored of hearing on the radio and the complacent misogyny that a lot of rap is notorious for. Instead Zebra Katz takes his edge from a pulsating bass and hypnotic, drawling baritone. Not to mention the common accompaniment of Redfoxxx’s female vocals and a stage persona dripping in attitude… but for that, you’ll just have to see him live. Amelia Abraham
Zebra Katz is playing at Birthdays in Dalston on Sunday November 10. Book tickets at birthdaysdalston.com