On the Mic and In the Sheets With Your New Boyfriend
Boyfriend – noun: 1. a male friend or a male companion in a romantic or sexual relationship
2. a blunt, frequently hilarious sex positive white female rapper based out of New Orleans
Raised in Nashville by a conservative family of songwriters, Boyfriend was fed both on and, literally, by music. But when she moved to Los Angeles for college, she resigned herself to being the family’s “white sheep” – working office jobs and wearing pantsuits while her relatives paid the bills through their art.
Fast forward to June 2012: she’s just dropped her first demo tape and completed a brief tour across the South. And for someone cultivated in the modesty and conservatism of country music, her musical trajectory is somewhat… unexpected. See for yourself…
Her path to hump-happy hip-hop began in London last year with a friend, after an impromptu freestyle battle. “I was instantly good,” she recalls, “I scared myself even. I think I needed that total separation from my family to free myself to be artistic.”
Since then she’s learned to take herself and her rapping more seriously – or, as seriously as someone who coins a concept like “dick rent” can – and is educating herself in the Rap canon. With a B.A. in English, she finds herself “excited about the poetics of it all, the assonance and internal rhymes, the links between the meanings and sounds and images of the words” and understandably takes an intellectual approach to what she does.
Intern Steve knew Boyfriend in college, and after recovering from the initial shock of seeing her artistic endeavors, he sought out some explanations. In getting to the root of the rapping, she spoke about her sexual evolution, the joys and pains of being a white girl, and the importance of breaking out of one’s sexual shell.
Is Boyfriend a character, or an extension of you? Or all you? How did Boyfriend come about?
I’d say that Boyfriend is an extension of myself. It’s the reluctant shy artist in me finally stepping out. It’s the ashamed and horny chick, getting her period and boobs wayyy too early in elementary school, and finally going, “Hey! I love sex! Fuck you!”
How did you get to that stage? Have you always been like that?
My attitudes towards sexuality have made a total 180 from when I was growing up. I was raised conservative Christian, where we called masturbation “self hurt” and learned how to avoid it – sleeping with the door open or the light on – that kind of stuff. Nothing but purity and abstinence. I used to punish myself for feeling sexual – force myself to sit under freezing cold water or eat a mouthful of shampoo. Just crazy puritan shit!
Now I’m all about sex – I’ve been in an open relationship for the past 2 years; I like both girls and guys. I think sex is just another level of intimacy you can reach with someone – and there are levels within that level too! “I like you, you’re awesome, now let’s use our bodies to talk.” It can be the most natural progression of getting to know someone, just as much as it can be a physical expression of a long, gradual intimacy with someone. I don’t see any black and white rules about sex. It’s a giant slippery grey area (and I don’t intend that to sound sexy!).
How much of your thoughts on sex come through in your songs? Is Boyfriend providing a kind of commentary on how we think about sex?
As a commentary? I don’t know, I guess you could hear them as satirical extremes of the music we passively consume every day. I think the overtness of my content forces you to think about the genre and what’s appropriate to you. Or you could hear the songs as slightly eccentric representations of the genre itself.
There’s definitely a double standard in terms of sensitivity when it comes to women talking openly about sex in music, but to be fair, a lot of your lyrics are pretty outrageous. Do you consciously write to get a reaction?
I started writing from what I heard, because most female MC’s in the mainstream rap about their sexual abilities. I didn’t intend my stuff to be any more crazy or graphic or shocking than what’s out there, but it’s just how my mind works. I don’t know whether the raunchiness comes from the content on its own, or the delivery because of how I sound.
And how do you sound?
I don’t “sound” like a rapper. That’s why I put the “white girl” tags on my Soundcloud. Not to signify that I’m Caucasian, but to let people know I’m conscious of how different I sound – that I sound like a girl with a pretty stilted rhythm and formulaic flow.
I don’t have a voice that is an instrument itself. Like Azaelia Banks – she could just be saying “blah blah blah” but the rhythm of her voice is so compelling it would still sound good. That’s something I’m working on but I don’t know if I’ll ever conquer it. In a way, my “square sound” (I like that, I’m gonna stick with that, hip to be square!) forces me to have intense content.
You rap with some derision towards ‘vanilla’ sex – why should people experiment in bed?
“Vanilla sex” is all good if it’s what you’re into. I hate on it because people are often stuck in routines in their sexuality, just as they are in all areas of life. Stepping out of your comfort zone always challenges you to learn something about yourself, whether it’s in bed or not.
The last thing I want to do is cast judgment on someone’s sexuality, but I do want to tug at the stigmas associated with adventurous sex. The idea that only men like trying new things because only men like porn because only men like sex. Bullshit. I hate feeling like an oversexed freak just because I’m open about my sexual needs, sexual curiosities. I can’t count how many times people have told me I’m “like a guy” when it comes to sexual matters.
We need to drop that association so that women can feel free to be sexual beings. I didn’t discover how sexual I was until I found an environment for myself where that was acceptable. As liberal as our society is today, I know there is still an intense stigma associated with female sexuality.
There are blogs & articles, a certain media presence which supports open minds, but the truth is that on a daily basis, in most people’s vernacular and casual conversation, “dudes” are given all the sexual attention. It puts pressure on men to make all the moves, to be sexual instigators (despite how they might feel naturally) and makes it dangerous for women to be honest with their partners, friends, themselves. I look forward to a more and more open arena for sexuality, where people act on feelings and desires rather than expectations and implicit conduct codes.
What’s on the horizon for Boyfriend?
I want to explore some thematic songs, concept driven stuff playing off fetishes. But I want to do that without boxing myself in as a rapper only known for sexual content. Tricky stuff.