“I tricked you into interviewing me,” Spokane, Washington rapper Michete cackles halfway into our phone conversation. That’s possible, though you could argue that any artist tricks people into writing about them when they make a good record that cannot be ignored. In 2016, that record is the aptly named Cool Tricks 2, the 23-year-old’s astounding sophomore EP, which is one of the best, most uproarious hip-hop releases of the young year and filled with hashtag brags from another planet, like “I’m just playing with my pussy — Neko Atsume” from opening track “I Want Ur Blood.” He’s [Ed. Note: Michete accepts any pronouns.] almost certainly the first rapper to self-identify with a Full House character.
Rap from the genderfluid perspective doesn’t exist in a separate sphere from the sweatingly hetero status quo, but that doesn’t make songs like 2015’s “Closet Case Fags” or its wilder, Reverend Dollars-produced update “Come Get It Daddy” any less groundbreaking. Both mine cathartic hilarity from repressed “straight” partners (to wit: “When I said ‘straight’ just now I made little quotation marks with my fingers”) who consorted with the transfeminine MC on the downlow. As the latter concludes: “If that was an experiment, I think you had a pretty strong hypothesis.” It’s also sexy; if Michete’s charismatic immediacy and unflinching details mean the wrong person gets wind of “daddy” subculture then so be it.
“It’s always really fun to see how the straight dudes in the audience react to me,” he tells me. “They’re pretty easily shocked when they hear stuff like ‘Recognize This Pussy.’”
A theater kid from the place Rachel Dolezal’s scandal “would literally only ever happen in,” Michete wrote raps as early as 15, and decided to really go for it after Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” went viral. “People are taking this bitch seriously, so obviously there’s just no rules anymore,” Michete remembers thinking. Soon enough, 2015 debut Cool Tricks found him co-opting the genre’s dick-measuring side for hair care boasts like, “Got that 18 inches hanging down past my titties.” Soon, lovable disco-revival wunderkind Shamir became a fan after they interacted via Facebook, and Michete found himself opening for the XL signee.
“I was being written about in NME, Pitchfork, and SPIN before I had even played a single show in Spokane,” he says, though Pitchfork’s feature (which anointed him “the worst queer rapper you need to listen to”) was a mixed blessing so emotionally overwhelming he had to leave his call-center job in the middle of a shift.
“I literally went to Black Lives Matter rallies in Spokane just a couple months before this article comes out that’s basically like, ‘Michete doesn’t care about black people. All Michete wants to do is scream and f**k and yell about his pussy,'” he says with an uncomfortable laugh. Being virtually unknown at the time, he saw every notification tweeted his way. But soon Peaches and Danny Brown were following the rapper’s Twitter as well, and sharing a spot on SPIN’s Best Hip-Hop Albums of 2015 list led to a tragicomic encounter with ribald Houston producer Beatking as well.
“I think Beatking just followed me because I was tagged in the same tweet as him, for being on the same list,” Michete says. “He posted this selfie where he was wearing this shirt that said “BussibaK” on it — and that song is really f**king good, let me just say — and I tweeted him like, ‘Is this shirt supposed to look like the Pornhub logo?’ He tweeted back, ‘Yes ma’am’ and was like, ‘You a freak for knowing that!’ Like okay, Beatking just totally flirted with me on Twitter. Then he deleted it; he obviously realized I was a she-male, and wanted to cover up his tracks.”
While it was Kreayshawn who inspired Michete’s self-realization as an artist, it was the far more imaginative conjurations of Missy Elliott that introduced the running theme of “tricks” into Michete’s series of EPs.
“Me and a bunch of friends were doing shrooms and [talking] about the moment in the ‘Get Ur Freak On’ video where Missy goes, ‘Is that yo’ chick?’ and her neck turns into a f**king snake-thing; we’re talking about it as if it’s something she’s just, like, physically capable of doing. ‘Yeah, Missy Elliott’s really talented. She can turn her neck into a snake,'” he recalls, laughing. “We just dropped acid and watched music videos all day [saying things] like, ‘Oh, Lady Gaga’s head is on a swan, that’s a pretty cool trick.'”
With plans to move to Seattle and release a “Come Get It Daddy” video (“It’s the first one that I’m directing by myself, and I’m just filming it on my phone because I want it to look really s**tty, like a homemade sex tape meets Paranormal Activity“), Michete is as ambitious as any Nicki Minaj, whose wicked sense of humor is a major touchstone for Cool Tricks 2 tracks like the “Anaconda”-inspired “Thick Boys.” “I don’t want to be just this niche, queer, rap artist who’s off in his own bubble: I want to be on the f**kin’ XXL Freshman cover,” he says. “I want to be on DJ Khaled’s tracks, you know what I mean?”
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Michete uses “he” pronouns. Michete accepts all pronouns.