Thursday 22 August 2019

Q&A: Queer rapper Zebra Katz on BFF Azealia Banks' potty mouth and why he wants to make us all his bitches

Zebra Katz
Zebra Katz

Ed Power

Hello Zebra. I can call you Zebra, can't I?

Zebra Katz is a creation. It isn't the real me. He isn't Ojay Morgan. I came up with the character in college and he has taken off. Zebra is outgoing. I'm quite reserved.

Well, however we're supposed to address you, apparently you are the posterchild for the 'queer-hop' movement. A gay man rapping – how shocking.

There are a lot of rappers who can't come out and say they are queer and are sleeping with people of the same sex. You don't have a large number of hip-hop artists who state they are queer and proud. That's what is most jarring to me. It's kind of sad that those few who do come out get so much attention because they are gay, rather than because of their music.

What did you think of Frank Ocean coming out as bi last year?

I'm glad he did it. I hope he's happy. I can't wish anything hurtful on him. His timing was great. He isn't someone I would necessarily identify with and I may not have taken the same approach.

You're good friends with Azealia Banks. As a gay person, were you offended when she used the word 'faggot' in a tweet recently?

I'm offended by so many things worse than that. Azealia is really great at capturing a lot of attention. I love the way she does that.

The 'f' word is so loaded that people don't know how to deal with it. It really depends on the context and the audience she was addressing.

You're not suggesting she was being ironic,surely?

I could say things to my fans that might offend people outside my audience. Because they wouldn't get the context or know what I mean. My song Ima Read uses the word 'bitch' – but not in a misogynist way.

Right, in an empowering, inclusive way . . .

We are teaching people to elevate 'bitch' from a third-grade level. I want to salvage the word and stop it being used as a demeaning term. It shouldn't just be applied to women – it should be applied to everyone.

Oh-kay . . .

You have to ask yourself – if people are offended, then why are they offended. You know what I'm saying?

I'm sure I do. Speaking of Ima Read – how has your life changed since it was named theme song of Paris Fashion Week?

I used to have a normal job, I managed a catering company. You have to make a living in New York city. Once the track was released and I saw it being used for fashion shows, it shook me up, reminded me why I had moved to New York. It was to be an artist. To be named the theme song of Paris fashion week – well, I never imagined my music would be listened to by so many people.

You're a well known fashionista. I hope this isn't creepy – but what are you wearing right now?

Hah! A friend's T-shirt and a pair of sweat pants. I am still a new artist, man. I can't afford to spend a million dollars on clothes.

Ed Power

Ima Read has just been reissued. Zebra Katz plays Whelan's, Dublin, on June 4

Irish Independent

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment

Back to top