Possibly the only rap cabaret artist in the world, the self-proclaimed irreverent Boyfriend describes the meaning behind her songs and why they resonate with her fans.
I’m writing my songs in response to the media I consume. I take established tropes of femininity and twist them. My fans are usually those who do just the same – actively engage with the media they’re presented with and seek to change what’s idealized.
Born in Nashville, Boyfriend was a teacher and after discovering her talent to freestyle rap in New Orleans, started performing “rap cabaret”, a term she came up with, five years ago. One that nods to the performance that accompanies her music.
And much of her style and identity has been organically created by the arc of her songwriting: an oppressed and traditional 1950s housewife looking to shake things up.
“The housewife becomes empowered and seeks to change her circumstance,” she said. “In other words, upon seeking to change her circumstance, she then realizes she can have a hell of a party.”
Her signature style – large glasses, vintage lingerie and hair in curlers – is reminiscent of this, and her songs, with names like “Like My Hand Did”, “Love Your Boyfriend” and “Marie Antoinette”, take what you’d typically think these songs are about and challenge those notions, turning them into delightfully cringe-worthy, addicting, nodding your head along rhymes.
Through Airbnb Concerts, Boyfriend is opening up her boudoir for an intimate rap cabaret experience tonight through Sunday. Having performed at Outside Lands, Bonnaroo and SXSW, she’s used to audiences of up to 50,000 but at her shows this weekend (tickets still available for the Sunday show), she’ll be rapping and performing in front of a close knit group of 40, turning the space into a living room variety show with music, burlesque, comedy, drama and of course social commentary.
“At any given show, you can’t see everyone’s face in the room,” she said. “But this weekend, the entire energy is going to change. I could leave there knowing something about everyone in the room. I’m excited for that.”
As for what travelers and locals can expect? The shows will mark one of her first performances of “Toast” and her first time performing “Pinky’s Out”. And she’ll be premiering costumes from local designer Tokyo Gamine.
By sharing her risque but often welcome perspective and viewpoints in an intimate setting, Boyfriend hopes to provide a more immersive and inclusive experience for people to express their frustration with the status quo.
All photos courtesy of Michael Alford