BIG DIP­PER.

The queer rap­per on his new al­bum Late Bloomer, tack­ling trolls on­line, and how he’s proud to sex­u­alise his body af­ter years of feel­ing ashamed.

Gay Times Magazine - - CONTENTS: - Pho­tog­ra­phy Ra­keem Cun­ning­ham Words Sam Damshenas

The Chicago based per­former on his raunchy new al­bum Late Bloomer, how the drag scene has in­flu­enced him as an artist, and be­ing an out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate for body pos­i­tiv­ity.

“There is some­thing ex­tremely em­pow­er­ing about cel­e­brat­ing and sex­u­al­is­ing my body af­ter so many years of feel­ing ashamed and that I wasn’t wor­thy of love or sex,” Big Dip­per tells us. “In my early 20’s some­thing fi­nally clicked and I re­alised it was in my own power to be sexy and con­fi­dent and that re­ally boosted my ego and change the way I saw my­self in the world.” The Chicago-based rap­per has just re­leased his first stu­dio al­bum, Late Bloomer, an un­apolo­getic, raunchy col­lec­tion of queer bops which fea­tures the likes of Un­cle Meg, Rena and Drag Race roy­alty Shea Couleé and Pep­per­mint. De­scrib­ing the al­bum as his most per­sonal song­writ­ing to date, Big Dip­per re­veals: “I felt like I was shar­ing a lot about who I am and my life on this project. I hope peo­ple lis­ten to this al­bum and be­gin to see a fuller pic­ture of who I am.” Here, we chat to the body-con­fi­dent per­former about his in­cred­i­ble de­but, why he doesn’t give a fly­ing fuck about on­line trolls, and how the Chicago drag scene has in­flu­enced him as an artist.

How would you de­scribe who Big Dip­per is?

Big Dip­per is ba­si­cally my most el­e­vated per­son­al­ity. Like, in­side my brain if you zoomed in on my con­fi­dence and cre­ativ­ity and sex­u­al­ity you’d find Dip­per in a silk robe loung­ing on a chez with a plate of fried chicken. Big Dip­per’s def­i­nitely a per­former, a show­man, a full-on en­ter­tainer. It’s not an al­ter ego, just spe­cific bits of my per­son­al­ity exašer­ated; out­go­ing where I might be shy, funny when I’d be se­ri­ous, charm­ing when I’d be anx­ious.

Who are your mu­si­cal in­flu­ences?

Grow­ing up it was re­ally Lau­ryn Hill, Missy El­liott, Busta Rhymes, Eminem; these artists re­ally shaped how I un­der­stood mu­sic and per­for­mance. I’ve many song lyrics burned into my brain from age 9-14, it’s wild how those words can just stay in your mind. I was al­ways drawn to rap mu­sic and hip-hop, but re­ally en­joyed pop mu­sic as a kid too. It was re­ally cool to watch rap crossover to main­stream ra­dio. I’ve al­ways been re­ally in­ter­ested in mu­sic that has mass ap­peal, like how does it hap­pen that so many peo­ple like a spe­cific song?

Now I stay up on main­stream mu­sic more be­cause I DJ at par­ties but on my own I lis­ten to a lot of my friends’ mu­sic. It’s so cool to know lots of in­die artists per­son­ally and be able to sup­port and lis­ten to their mu­sic.

How does your sex­u­al­ity in­flu­ence your mu­sic?

I never set out to make mu­sic with strong sex­ual mes­sag­ing or con­tent… it just kind of hap­pened that way. There is some­thing ex­tremely em­pow­er­ing about cel­e­brat­ing and sex­u­al­is­ing my body af­ter so many years of feel­ing ashamed and that I wasn’t wor­thy of love or sex. I strušled with lov­ing my body, my size, my hairy chest and back, for a long time and couldn’t fathom any­one find­ing me sexy. In my early 20’s some­thing fi­nally clicked and I re­al­ized it was in my own power to be sexy and con­fi­dent and that re­ally boosted my ego and changed the way I saw my­self in the world. It’s not some­thing I feel all the time, but I know it’s there, so when I write mu­sic, I al­ways tap into that sex­ual con­fi­dence and it helps me.

We’re ob­sessed with your new al­bum. It’s raunchy, fun and au­then­tic. What do you hope peo­ple take away from it?

I hope peo­ple lis­ten to this al­bum and be­gin to see a fuller pic­ture of who I am. I’m re­ally proud of all the work on this al­bum. It’s my most hon­est song­writ­ing and I think it’s re­ally re­ally good. I felt like I was shar­ing a lot about who I am and my life on this project. I’ve al­ways felt like a late bloomer, so it felt cool to re­flect those ideas in my mu­sic.

You’ve spo­ken be­fore about the abuse you’ve re­ceived on­line about your weight. What in­spired

you to be so out­spo­ken about your body im­age?

Well first let’s say this: There is real abuse and bul­ly­ing hap­pen­ing out in the world and I’m lucky enough to not re­ceive that kind of at­ten­tion. I get the ig­no­rant YouTube com­ments and Face­book mes­sages about be­ing fat and ugly and how my videos are ‘why ev­ery­one hates gay peo­ple’ – that stuff is fairly easy to ig­nore. Those kind of dumb com­ments don’t do any­thing but make me feel like I’m ac­tu­ally do­ing my job. I ac­tu­ally don’t think I’m specif­i­cally out­spo­ken about my body im­age, I just think peo­ple aren’t used to see­ing my body type sex­u­al­ized. That was the main in­spi­ra­tion be­hind the video for Lookin’. There are so many videos set at car washes that fea­ture bikini clad women and su­per sex­ual im­agery. I wanted to flip that idea and fea­ture guys that I find hot. For me, my in­ten­tion is al­ways about mak­ing good mu­sic, strong vi­su­als, and re­ally ex­press­ing my­self. The body pos­i­tive mes­sag­ing rings true be­cause it’s not forced… it’s just true to my life.

You’re a Chicago na­tive. How does the in­fa­mous drag scene there in­flu­ence you as an in­di­vid­ual?

I was born and raised in Evanston – just out­side of Chicago – and then lived in the city for about six years be­fore mov­ing to Brook­lyn and then to Los An­ge­les. Chicago is where I be­came an artist, a per­former, and where I first made mu­sic and learned about cre­at­ing mu­sic videos. I love that city and love re­turn­ing to per­form and see friends. The work ethic and artistry in the queer com­mu­nity in Chicago is re­ally in­cred­i­ble. The drag scene has al­ways been ex­cep­tional, but it has re­ally grown and ex­panded (from what I can tell) in the last five or so years and I haven’t been liv­ing there, so I can’t re­ally speak to that. It’s an in­cred­i­ble thing to ob­serve and cel­e­brate, but I’m a to­tal out­sider so I don’t have the scoop on any­thing.

What’s the cra­zi­est thing that’s hap­pened to you on the queer scene?

I found a cho­sen fam­ily, I cre­ated life long friend­ships and col­lab­o­ra­tive re­la­tion­ships. I’ve trav­eled around the world and felt com­pletely at home be­cause of our un­spo­ken queer con­nec­tion. I’ve been lifted up and cel­e­brated and torn down and bul­lied in the queer scene. I feel lucky to have a smaller world within our big crazy world that feels unique and spe­cial.

You’re also a mu­si­cal theatre kid at heart, just like us. Favourite mu­si­cal ever?

It’s so in­ter­est­ing .... I def­i­nitely have a mu­si­cal theatre vibe to me, love campy things, and love the pro­duc­tion be­hind big mu­si­cals; the singing and choreo, big sets and sto­ry­telling. I went to theatre school in col­lege, but for the past decade I have kind of fallen away from that world. I have a dream to di­rect a big mu­si­cal one day so maybe my per­former brain will take a back seat and I’ll di­rect some crazy mu­si­cal soon.

What can fans ex­pect when they at­tend a Big Dip­per show?

A Big Dip­per show is fun, up­beat, loud, and I de­liver live vo­cals. Plus, a bit of a strip show too. I can con­fi­dently say it’s un­like any­thing you’ve ever seen. I love to en­ter­tain and I know I’m good at it.

And fi­nally, what’s the bi†est mis­con­cep­tion of you?

Well re­cently I’ve started to hear sto­ries com­ing back to me. I guess the word on some streets is that I’m an ass­hole and a diva – I think that’s a mis­con­cep­tion. Some­times I’m not re­ally great at small talk, so maybe that’s it? I ac­tu­ally en­joy work­ing and be­ing pro­duc­tive, so when I get to show I’m re­ally all about my busi­ness and like to jump right in and say what I need and how things should run. So some­times I think that comes off as ašressive… but that’s about it. I’m pretty shy and nice ac­tu­ally, and I’m bummed some peo­ple think I’m an ass­hole. What have you heard?

Crop top by Mas­sive.all

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