Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Cazwell's Cali cool


The hip hop hunk's at Pride and Oasis

Styling the lace designs by Hoza Rodriguez of Hologram City, Cazwell (center) and dancers in his new song and music video "Loose Wrists."
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With a fresh song that once again captures a fashion trend with witty flair, homo hip hop stud Cazwell returns to San Francisco for shows at Oasis on Saturday, June 24, and at Pride's main stage on June 25. The creator of dozens of earworm-worthy songs discussed his creative inspirations, including those now-trending pastel lace outfits seen in the new music video for his song, "Loose Wrists."

"I was inspired by a Versace picture from the '90s where they are all wearing pastels, and I love pastels," said Cazwell in a phone interview from his new home in Los Angeles. "I look cute in pastels. The song is obviously a gay anthem, so I wanted to make it look like a gay gang; me and four other guys, because there's a lyric about five guys. But it was originally gonna be five pastel Velour jogging suits. We found them, but couldn't find the matching ribbing. We were running out of time before the shoot, and I was really stressed out, so I took a nap, and then woke up and got the idea: 'Let's do lace.' We added matching Speedos underneath and it all worked."

The song also works in contemporary pop culture and gay-empowering political lyrics with a suave flair.

Although he's been making music and DJing since 1999 (his Worchester/Boston days with Moplay), Cazwell has also been known as a favorite in New York area clubs for years.

His big hit was 2011's "Ice Cream Truck," whose sexy boxer-shorts-clad dancers' booty-shaking moves led to a YouTube age restriction, but still garnered –as of recently– five million views.

The singer-composer's other notable songs include the feisty "Get My Money Back," the fame-funny "I Saw Beyoncé at Burger King," plus collaborations with Colton Ford, Peaches, Daisha, Big Dipper and his longtime friend Amanda Lepore.

Tie-in deals related to his songs have included frozen yogurt (for "Ice Cream Truck") and the dating app Hornet ("The Bisquit"), proving the singer, who turns 45 on June 27, has more than clever rhymes up his sleeve.

While the new femme-positive song and video "Loose Wrists" still includes some trademark sexy moves and shots, the pioneering out gay rapper sees a bit of a stylistic shift.

"When we made all the outfits, I thought it very conservative compared to what I usually do, with dancers in jock straps, objectifying themselves, showing their asses. I thought, 'Hey, I'm growing up.' But as soon as we put it online, it became a meme within an hour."

Blog articles touting men's lace shorts and matching shirts sprouted up and parody images with politicians' or Disney princes' faces Photoshopped over Cazwell and his dancers' became the latest hashtag online trend.

Cazwell and his dog, Elvis.

"I thought, 'Are people that desperate for something to talk about?" Cazwell said. "But a lot of people passionately love it, and the orders are through the roof [for designer Hoza Rodriguez]. Some people compared it the romper look, other people think, 'Oh, it's too gay.' I just think it's fashion. Someone's gotta wear lace, now that Prince is gone, so I'll do it."

While we can expect other looks from the fashion-forward rapper in his live show, Cazwell said he'll continue to sport the new lace look for a while before breaking another trend.

"I didn't think about it too much. I was definitely surprised that it got that much attention, but if I get my face in the news, I'm all about it. It was nice and unexpected, because whenever you try to be strategic, it never really works. You just have to follow your heart, and do what you can afford. I was more worried it wasn't gonna get attention, because the guys didn't have their shorts off."

But the sexy steams through the lace, particularly in a scene shot on a bed in the Los Angeles Tom of Finland Museum.

Yep, the downtown cool rapper whose witty lyrics include buying socks on 14th Street has joined us here in California.

"On Christmas Day, I was like, 'Fuck it' and I flew out with two suitcases, my dog and a juicer."

Cazwell: king of queer hip hop?

Cazwell likes the West Coast life. "To be someplace where the weather is perfect, where I don't have to put a winter jacket on my dog, is great. I don't drive, but I happen to be in a part of the city where everything I need is at a nearby mini-mall."

With new clubs and DJs gigs three nights a week, Cazwell said he's getting into the California groove. "I've become a morning person. And I like being outside for a change."

Asked what's ahead for his music and style, Cazwell said he'll keep on making music with his new label, Snowcone records. Among his new collaborators are RuPaul's Drag Race contestant Peppermint. "We have a few singles coming out soon."

Sharing the spotlight with his colleagues is one of Cazwell's consistent traits, and one he looks forward to doing at both Oasis and Pride Sunday.

"I don't know anybody who did this before me," he said. "I was doin' it, and I'm still doin' it. And I love all the kids who are dropping new beats and songs. They always tell me, 'Oh my god, I was in sixth grade when I first heard you!' and I'm like, 'Shut. Up.'"

Asked about the difference between performing in a nightclub and before thousands of people at Civic Center (his first time), Cazwell, said, "Pride is always a very loving crowd. No one throws tomatoes at you. I really love that. Lady Gaga said how performing at SF Pride was like a big orgasm, so I'm looking forward to jizzing all over everyone."

Cazwell performs at Mother at Oasis ($15, 10pm, 298 11th St. and at SF Pride's mainstage show on Sunday, June 25 (some time between 11am and 6pm); gate donations, Civic Center.

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