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Cazwell: Out and loud

Cazwell already has a large GLBT fan base and wants to expand his audience to include more straight fans — and their money.

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Cazwell already has a large GLBT fan base and wants to expand his audience to include more straight fans — and their money.

Ginuwine wants you to ride his pony. 50 Cent will let you lick his lollipop. Biggie sees some ladies tonight who should be having his baby … baby.

But when Cazwell sings All Over Your Face — which is about exactly what you think it's about — it takes sexually suggestive hip-hop lyrics to a whole new level.

This, you see, is because Cazwell is gay.

"Straight guys obviously have an entitled feeling to talk about the sex they have with chicks, and it's just the way it is, since the days of the cavemen," the rapper and DJ said this week from his home in the East Village of New York. "It's the same thing (for gays) as straight guys — we have the right to talk about it if we want. It's no different."

Over the past five years, Cazwell (a.k.a. Luke Caswell) has garnered a substantial fan base in the GLBT community not only for his NSFW subject matter, but for his colorful viral videos for dance-inspired rap songs like Ice Cream Truck, I Seen Beyonce ... and Get into It.

On Saturday, he'll headline Pride on 7th, a pride event in Ybor City. But first, he took a few minutes to chat about gay hip-hop, closeted celebrities and reaching straight fans. Here are excerpts.

Who were your favorite rappers coming up?

Coming up, I really liked the Beastie Boys and some Public Enemy, and Biggie and Jay-Z. But I wouldn't say that I ever tried to be immersed in the hip-hop lifestyle, or was ever looking for street cred. I came to the realization that no matter how good I am onstage, how good I am with my beats or rapping or videos, in hip-hop, straight people really don't hang out with gay people. I was never going to walk into the Source Awards and get automatically accepted: "Hey, guys: I'm here!"

To me, being gay was never really a big deal. It seems to be a hot topic. I understand the "gay rapper" thing, but I don't even see myself as a rapper. I don't even see what I do as hip-hop, to tell you the truth. I used to, but that started to screw me up in the head, because if I considered myself hip-hop, then to a certain extent, I had to follow the rules of hip-hop, and one of the rules of hip-hop is, you can't be a f--. And if you are, you can't be out. Obviously. Hip-hop's been around for 25, 30 years, and no one's out.

Why is there that stigma? Why aren't there many other gay rappers?

Whether or not it's more or less accepted by the culture, I don't know. But ultimately, the bottom line is money. I think people are afraid of losing their careers. Personally, I think John Travolta's gay. So I think he's afraid of not getting the price he wants for a movie. If Queen Latifah came out of the closet, would she still be working for Cover Girl? I think so. But it's that type of thing.

If somebody like that came out, do you think they'd be totally accepted by the GLBT community, because they were in the closet for so long? As opposed to someone like yourself, who's been out the whole time?

If someone's gonna come out, and they're actually honest, then I think that they would be accepted. Gay people definitely appreciate other gay people being honest about who they are. No one has seemed to hold it against Ricky Martin. It does offend me when gay people that are in the closet decide to stay in the closet and completely deny who they are for a job. I think it affects gay rights in a negative way, and really pushes us back. But I do understand it to a certain extent. Coming out is hard — the expectations that people have on you, all the enemies you might make for coming out, what it might do for your family or friends. But you can't escape it. You are what you are.

Without turning your back on your core audience, do you want to perform in front of more straight people?

I want to go where the money is! I want that straight money, believe me! And I'm not going to dumb (it down for) straight people. I feel like it would be an insult to straight people if I had to rearrange my songs to make myself seem straight for straight people to like me. That's not true. Straight people don't care so much. They have better things to do than knock gay people down. They just want to hear a good song from someone they feel is relatable and cool.

Pride on 7th

Ybor City's annual GLBT pride festival, featuring an anti-bullying walk, a family area and a Miss Pride on 7th Pageant, runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Centro Ybor courtyard. Cazwell will perform at 5:30 p.m. There is a $10 suggested donation. Afterward, there's a meet-and-greet and patio party at Hamburger Mary's, 1600 E Seventh Ave.,; and an after-party starting at 11 p.m. at G.Bar, 1401 E Seventh Ave. For details, see prideon7th.com.

Cazwell: Out and loud 04/28/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 28, 2011 5:33pm]

    

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