What comes to mind when you hear the word boyfriend? The warm fuzzies? Red-hot anger? Longing? Ambivalence? New Orleans-based rapper Boyfriend hopes you experience all of this and more when you come to her shows.
Boyfriend’s real name remains a secret, and her unknown identity challenges fans to really absorb the provocative stage persona and intelligent rhymes Boyfriend has created. “You are challenged to pay attention to every word,” Boyfriend says of her shows. “Folks have to listen up to appreciate it.”
Boyfriend’s new EP Love Your Boyfriend was released earlier this month and builds on her existing style, which has been described as “cabaret rap.”
“The Love Your Boyfriend EP is me adding my voice to the conversation about love that music has been having since the start,” Boyfriend says. “It borrows familiar messaging (like the wedding lingo or childhood nursery rhyme cadences in “Say You Will”) and places it in an exaggerated sonic package so that you question these love messages we consume daily.”
Boyfriend is inspired by other music and musicians, and she describes her songs as being in conversation with other songs. Currently, she is touring with NOLA producer/DJ The Madd Wikkid, who has worked with everyone from Pretty Lights to Tom Waits to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and is the mastermind behind Brassft Funk, brass covers of Daft Punk songs. Love Your Boyfriend is produced by SexParty!, New Orleans artists who frequently collaborate with Boyfriend.
I asked Boyfriend how she feels her work compares to other music coming out of New Orleans. “Similar in that we get a bit raunchy … different in that … I only have my voice, no brass instruments that carry over your voice at the bar,” she said. “New Orleans is an easy place to make things happen creatively.”
20 Questions with Boyfriend
1. Who is your favorite New Orleanian, dead or alive, real or imagined?
Edna Pontellier from The Awakening.
2. What first brought you to New Orleans?
A Facebook status asking for a subletter in the Quarter.
3. In your opinion – what’s the best neighborhood in New Orleans?
I’m a Quarter rat at heart.
4. City Park or Audubon Park?
5. Describe the best meal you’ve eaten in New Orleans?
Savory, heavy, rich.
6. Where’s your favorite brunch spot?
Wakin’ Bakin’, represent.
7. What’s your favorite po-boy? Where do you go to get it?
8. You’ve got friends visiting and it’s their first time in New Orleans – where are you taking them?
A big game cockroach safari complete with whiskey flasks and stomping boots.
9. What’s your favorite neighborhood bar?
10. What is your favorite New Orleans cocktail and where do you go to get it?
Hurricanes in those Kool-Aid packets at the airport gift shop. I don’t even add water.
11. Snowball or Daiquiri? Where from and what flavor?
Daiquiri. And I’m not too picky when it comes to saccharine frozen libations … they all serve their function.
12. Best spot to see live music?
Anywhere Boyfriend is playing.
13. Favorite New Orleans musician or band?
14. Favorite New Orleans Festival?
Freret Street Fest because they could have towed my car but didn’t, and that’s some good Samaritan action right there.
15. Favorite Mardi Gras parade?
The one with the free stuff!
16. Where do you shop in New Orleans?
17. What is your favorite New Orleans museum?
18. Where do you go to watch The Saints play?
I don’t leave bed. Football is best viewed horizontal in my opinion.
19. Describe New Orleans in one word.
20. When was the last time you fell in love with New Orleans and why?
In October I went to Lil Jimmy Scott’s memorial at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. Dr. John played and while the moment wasn’t about New Orleans, it was a reminder that New Orleans, like New York, Paris or Rio, is firmly planted on the roster of culturally poignant places. It isn’t about the physical place so much as the respect, the membership in a global community reverberating with musical, political and even spiritual frequencies. Everywhere else is Cleveland.