Once a disconnect began growing between them and their music, Chris Martinez (aka Kdeath) knew it was time to take the plunge and come out publicly as a transgender woman. The 32-year-old lead singer of the Minneapolis-based noise rap group Moodie Black had already spelled it out on a track from their 2014 album, Nausea, but on their new album, Lucas Acid (Four Fake Inc.), Martinez finally merges the personal and creative aspects of their life.
The resulting effort shares provocative, honest commentary on what it’s like to be a trans person of color in today’s political climate coupled with the daunting task of facing down the misogyny in rap’s corner of the music industry.
OUT: How did you approach this album differently from your 2014 release, Nausea?
Chris Martinez: The biggest difference was just being able to write freely, openly, and honestly and just being able to say the things I want to. Once you come out there’s a whole host of issues that you don’t really consider. For me, personally, it’s about gaining acceptance and trying to be validated while being out – this record has a lot of that in there.
What was your coming out process like?
I have memories of being two or three and wanting to do the things girls were doing. I learned at a very young age when my dad and his friends would make comments here and there, that it ‘wasn’t right.’ I just grew up repressing a lot of that while doing things in private and being femme when I could. Nobody knew until I told my current girlfriend eight or nine years ago. Until then I just lived this really bizarre life of doing things in secret like a lot of people probably feel they have to do.
What was it like making the leap from being out in your personal life to your professional life?
I found myself thinking if I’m going to tell people to be their authentic selves, I have to first live that. My music is super personal and I just found myself dodging [questions] or not being able to talk about certain things going on in my life while preaching about being completely honest. I had to be my authentic self in order to commit fully to the music. I just started having really intense, vivid dreams of putting everything into music, which I didn’t want to do for a long time because I didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a trans artist or have my music be under a certain microscope. I feel like the music’s finally gotten to a certain point where it wouldn’t be overshadowed by coming out.
What has the reception been like from the LGBTQ community and the rap community since you came out?
It was largely positive and people were pretty accepting but there’s still a lot of tension. Obviously, there’s still a lot of misogyny in rap, even in noise rap, but I work with a lot of punk and metal groups as well and there is a huge community now where I’m able to be comfortable.
With the LGBTQ community, it’s also weird, because I don’t fit the narrative of what they say the trans woman should be. I don’t talk super femme, our music is aggressive and heavy which, to me makes sense because we’re living in aggressive times, so I have a weird relationship with them. I wish they could be more welcoming in that respect and accept me for who I am — that I’m trans enough and that I’m cool enough.
What are some of your favorite tracks off this album?
I really like “Sway,” which is one of the singles we premiered a couple weeks ago. That’s my anthem to the trans community — that’s what I thought when I made it. It’s written about a lot of experiences I’ve had and others have had. I’m talking to my people, people of color, and saying, ‘Hey, cut the fucking violence out.’ We don’t have to agree, but I think you’re on the wrong side of history if you don’t understand that this shit is legitimate – that LGBTQ issues are legitimate.
Then “Freedom” is, again, more social commentary on our country from a person of color’s perspective. I get all the good stuff – I get the POC stuff and the trans stuff, so I’m always ostracized either way. I want to support people of color, I want to support my black people and my Mexican people, but wow, a lot of harassment comes from the black community being trans – it’s really bizarre to live like this.
What would you tell somebody listening to this album as their first foray into noise rap?
Just have an open mind. We made this record a little bit clearer lyrically so that they can understand more of what I’m saying. Before it was a conscious decision to kind of muddy the lyrics and make it more about the soundscape – on Lucas Acid we put the words out front. Coming into it I just want people to know that it’s created by someone who is marginalized in every respect, and in that respect, I’m not marginalized at all because my experiences are shared between so many people.