Everyone needs to know Quay Dash, the self-proclaimed “Queen of New York.”
The 25-year-old Bronx Native has taken over New York’s underground rap scene, and though Dash is a new face, she has already solidified a career in rap, including her most recent success signing to Perth Records in London.
Just last year, Dash released her first mixtape, Transphobic, featuring five tracks full of carefully written rhymes over contemporary experimental hip-hop beats that helped her establish a growing cult following. Now in the process of completing her new mixtape, Satan’s Angel, Dash’s music has become well-received by a global market, leaving her at the forefront of a new era that is redefining the image of what rap can be.
When I met the rapper, Dash was sporting her oversized Q-gold linked necklace and signature waist-length crimson hair, sipping a 16-ounce iced coffee from Starbucks with her manager and friend, Kibele, a few paces behind. From the beginning, Dash’s presence is felt. Quay Dash is all about her business.
After shooting, we sat down in a small studio space in midtown so I could pick her brain about her rise to success, navigating the male-dominated industry as a transgender woman and her new mixtape, Satan’s Angel.
What sets you apart from other female rappers?
I’m transgender –that definitely makes me different from other female rappers. But I also have an old school-type of flow. My cadence and the certain beats that I choose with my music set me apart. I’m just myself. I have a different style, a different look. There aren’t many trans rappers. I’m in my own lane — I’m just myself.
How has your experience been trying to navigate the industry?
Honestly, I never experienced being a cis person. So, what it’s like being a trans rapper as opposed to being a cis rapper in the industry — I wouldn’t really know the difference. I’m trans and have been all my life, so I only know what it’s like being a trans person and rapper. But, being transgender does allow me to have the best of both worlds when it comes to lyricism. My experience and what I’ve gone through in my life — I have definitely lived a harder life than most, and it’s given me a more raw and real story to rap about.
How do men receive your work?
They love it. At first, guys will be like, “Aight she’s a tranny.” But once they see me perform and I get off that stage, they’ll give me dap like, “Yo you killed it.” It’s always been that reaction once I get off stage. They recognize my talent.
Would you ever want to leave the underground scene and go completely mainstream?
Why not? I would feel more established as a hip-hop trans artist. If I could transfer over into being a mainstream artist that would make me go the fuck off with my music. I do feel mainstream has a lot of dead-ends that I don’t want to fuck with. But, I do think it would be a good choice and a start, so why not?
How have you dealt with fame since Transphobic? Has anything changed?
Hell yeah! A lot of people started acting jealous and very distant towards me. There was this situation the other day on social media — I commented on this girl’s status, and this is a girl who I used to connect with via social media all the time. We would like each other’s statuses and posts. I lie to you not, she responded to everyone’s comment but mine. I was confused because what’s the shade? But I just ended up blocking her. So yeah, I do get a little shade. Though it’s whatever, because if you aren’t hustling to be where I am, don’t be mad at me.
How will you use your platform as a transgender artist?
When I write music, I want to give people the real, raw me. I want to express myself and I want my fans to feel all of my emotions.
How do you get into the writing space?
I just have to have a blunt or two and sit the fuck down and write. Normally, I will hear a beat and it will speak to me. But I do get writer’s block and it sucks because I don’t know what the fuck to say. I’ll ask myself, “Do I just say anything? Will my fans like anything?” But I never really finish a song in a day–I come back to it a few times. Sometimes, I’ll even sit on verses and put a few together and make a song that way.
How would you describe the sound on Satan’s Angel?
Satan’s Angel is a little trap-y, but still very raw. The new project has some early ‘90s vibes in the mix, too. It’s definitely a mixture of things, as always, though this project will be a little more radio friendly.
How would you compare the new album to Transphobic?
When I first began putting out songs they were artsy — like very “art world” songs. My last project, Transphobic — I loved that I finally got it done, but there was so much shit I had to go through to get it out, and it was long overdue. I just put together five quick tracks and pushed it out. Satan’s Angel is more serious and it’s more mature. This project is who I am now — I’ve grown up.
Photography: Alexis Noelle Barnett
Taken from Issue 00