Made to Be: Quay Dash on Transphobia, Trump and Nostalgic Rap

 

Quay Dash is taking no prisoners with her latest project Transphobic. The five track EP is filled with production reminiscent of hip hop of the 90’s and early 2000’s.  I realized during our conversation that, as a Transgender woman in the rap game, Quay Dash understands the importance of exuding confidence and not allowing societal stereotypes to keep her from her throne as a rap goddess. I recently had the pleasure of talking with Quay Dash about everything from what it means to be a Transwoman of color to the upcoming election.

When did you discover you could rap?

I knew  I could rap when I started writing poetry and I would re-read it back out loud and it came back in hard hip hop way. I felt my poetry needed to not just be read it needed to be heard. I’ve been writing poetry since I was in  elementary  school all the way up to high school. When I started to put it in rap form I was about 21 years old. That’s when I started to actually spit.

You grew up in the Bronx, the birthplace of hip hop. Share with me the rappers who influenced your lyrical flow?- What about them helped shape you as an artist?

When I was like growing up,  Lil Kim was always on the TV and always on the radio and I feel like one side of me is like very much like her in terms of fashion and a little bit of my lyrical flow. I also feel like I have a side that’s Foxy and a hint of Remy Ma. I definitely have my own sound but they have influenced my sound in terms of tone and how I flow.

I use them as inspiration when I get on a track. Some tracks inspire a bit of Foxxy and others might be Lil Kim or Remy Ma. They also evoke a sense of nostalgia when I listen to them.  I knew the trap shit was going to takeover one day so I was like I’m going to stick to my nostalgia.

Describe the moment you became Quay Dash –what does the moniker represent?

My birth name is Qadeem Dick and I used to get made fun of because of my last name. I was in the gay scene at the time and  friend of mine at the time couldn’t pronounce my name so she said I’m going to just call you Quay and since I didn’t want to use my last name I just added the Dash. I’ve been Quay Dash ever since.

How’d you become affiliated with Cunt Mafia?

I got connected to Cunt Mafia when I was going out one evening andI saw [Contessa Stutuo, CEO of Cunt Mafia] and was like, “she’s the big beautiful white woman who knows how to dress.” And I was [like], “let me just start going to her parties” and then we ended up meeting and went on from there. One time she heard me rap at a friends house and was like, “you gotta be on with Cunt Mafia.”  I started working with them and it was great. But unfortunately, I’m no longer with that label. I’m a solo artist now.

Are you two still on good terms?

No, she found out that I was doing my own bookings and have a PR person that handles my bookings and I basically left that collective. She called me and found out I was going on tour with Peaches and wasn’t happy about that.  So while we aren’t on good terms I still show my respect as I always have from the beginning. I chose to take my own route because I felt it was the smarter thing to do.

In a recent interview you mentioned that the title of your EP represents your life as Trans woman-Can you explain that further?

Well the EP just represents my life as a Transwoman and the bullshit that I go through with society. The title Transphobic is self explanatory it  encompasses how I feel about my life.  I felt it would be the best title. My life is Transphobic as far as all the bad things that  are connected to Transphobia. I also thought it was a political/controversial title for me to use as a black Trans woman.

With the rise in social media evolution the conversation about the injustices Trans people face daily especially Trans women of color is more prevalent. What are your feelings about the upcoming election and how the outcome could affect the LGBTQ community?

First of all I’m not registered to vote for a reason. I don’t pay attention to politics. All I know is I can’t really vouch for either party. But it would be nice to see a woman be president. Donald Trump is definitely a troll and joke and I just hope that Donald Trump doesn’t win the presidency. I think if either one becomes president there will still be some issues for Trans people. I just feel like the LGBTQ community is constantly being thrown under the bus and whether Hillary or Donald Trump wins being Trans will still be seen as a bad thing by the larger population, we’ll still be considered outcasts.

When I listen to your music, I feel like it encourages female empowerment.  

When I’m writing I’m making sure I’m going at men. I’m definitely repping for a women in general, whether they are cis gender or Transgender.  But since I”m Transgender it sort of kind of puts me in a box because I have to rep for my community. But I’m essentially reppin for ALL women. Fighting for feminism is important because there was a time women could not do a lot of things and I think that’s important.

Why music and not something else?

I feel like I couldn’t work anywhere else. I couldn’t be with my mouth talking like that working at a place like H&M or something because  people wouldn’t be able to take me. I’m sure if I had a regular job and someone tried me I would go the fuck off. I am made to be Quay Dash. It’s the path that the universe chose for me and that is what’s working for me, I don’t think anything else would work for me. I’m not made for that. I’m made to be what I am today.

 
Asha Atkins