Top Kat

3.20.2008

By T Cooper

Rocco Kayiatos, the man behind the San Francisco'based hip-hop sensation Katastrophe, has described himself as 'just a dude who makes music.' But oh, how words don't suffice: Katastrophe's manic beats and wicked lyrics are anything but commonplace, and his particular journey to manhood would humble even the bravest of superheroes. The 28-year-old rapper began the transition from female to male in 2002 and has been releasing his unique brand of 'emo-hop' albums ever since. His debut, Let's Fuck, Then Talk About My Problems, was an underground smash, endearing him to legions of rabid fans nationwide and beyond. The undeniably sexy MC with the Barry White-deep growl is set to release his third full-length album in May. Gunning to bring his music to larger and larger audiences, Katastrophe is taking hip-hop to the next level: post-gender.

Out: How does your new album, The Worst Amazing, differ from earlier work?
Katastrophe: My first CD was all about my transition. The second was about dealing with the media attention from the first album, and having people picking at my identity when I'd already picked it all apart myself. This new one is predominantly about getting sober.

Is your gender status the first thing people ask about?
Yeah. I feel exhausted from having to be an educator when I just want to be an artist. In some ways it's my duty, but it gets tiring when all people want to focus on is how far you've gone with surgery and hormones and what you're planning to do with your body next year.

What happened with VH1's The (White) Rapper Show?
They invited me to be on the show, but when I asked whether it would be OK if I didn't out myself as trans, they said it wasn't an option. It would've exposed me to 20 million viewers, but I didn't want to play myself like that. I thought I wanted big fame at any cost, but when it was gift wrapped and put in front of my face -- at a cost -- I realized I didn't want it.

What's up next?
I'll be touring a lot with the new album. And I also just got a grant to do a multimedia show called 'Homemade Superhero,' which is about drawing parallels between the trans experience and that of a superhero. I'm excited about it.

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