Michael David Quattlebaum Jr. (born April 2, 1986), better known by the stage name Mykki Blanco, is an American rapper, performance artist, poet and activist.
Quattlebaum was born in Orange County, California. His father, Michael Quattlebaum Sr., was an IT specialist before becoming a psychic. His mother, Deborah Butler, was a paralegal at the North Carolina Patent and Trademark Office. His father's side is African-American Jewish. Quattlebaum's parents divorced when he was 2 years old. As a child, he lived in San Mateo County, California, near his paternal grandparents, before moving to Raleigh, North Carolina.
At the age of 15, Quattlebaum won an Indies Spirit Award for the performance collective he founded, Paint In Consciousness Experimental Theater, in Raleigh.
When Quattlebaum was 16, he ran away from home before moving to New York City. He then spent time in California, before winning a full scholarship to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, but dropped out of college after two semesters in 2006. He also briefly attended Parsons School of Design in New York City.
Blanco has used different pronouns throughout his career.
Quattlebaum's book of poetry, From the Silence of Duchamp to the Noise of Boys, was published on OHWOW's imprint on June 17, 2011.
In 2012, Blanco made his debut with Mykki Blanco & the Mutant Angels EP.
Then in November 2012, Blanco released the mixtape Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss. The mixtape was produced by Brenmar, Flosstradamus, Gobby, Le1f, Boody, Matrixxman, and Sinden. He makes an appearance in the album Junto by Basement Jaxx.
In 2013, Blanco released his second EP Betty Rubble: The Initiation. May 2014 saw the release of the Spring/Summer 2014 EP, followed by his second mixtape Gay Dog Food in October. Gay Dog Food features a spoken word track with Kathleen Hanna, and contributions from Cities Aviv, Cakes Da Killa, and more.
Blanco's debut album, Mykki, was released on September 16, 2016.
Quattlebaum's persona Mykki Blanco began as a teenage girl character for a YouTube video in 2010, but evolved into a musical and performance art piece. Blanco's name is inspired by Lil' Kim's alter ego Kimmy Blanco. his influences include Lil' Kim, GG Allin, Jean Cocteau, Kathleen Hanna, Lauryn Hill, Rihanna, Marilyn Manson, and Anaïs Nin. He is also inspired by the riot grrrl movement and queercore, namely the director Bruce LaBruce and the drag queen Vaginal Davis.
Blanco has been called one of hip hop's queer pioneers; although he struggles to identify with the label of "gay rap" or "queer rap," he has begrudgingly "accepted it." Blanco also disagrees with those who portray him as a drag artist, saying "You can't tag me as the rapping transvestite. I never vogued in my life. I'm from a punk and Riot Grrrl background." Blanco has often described himself in terms of other artists, saying that he's not a "Marilyn Manson" or even a rapper, but rather says he wants to be Yoko Ono. In fact, his album Mykki was originally going to be named Michael in reference to Michael Jackson. Blanco, along with Rosie O'Donnell and Anderson Cooper, presented Madonna with the GLAAD Advocate for Change award on May 5, 2019 in Manhattan.
Blanco has also tried to bring his "persona" closer and closer to his non-artist self Quattlebaum, having to repeatedly say through interviews and alike that he is indeed transfeminine, and that the aesthetic evolution of Mykki Blanco over the years is the aesthetic evolution of his entire self, rather than just a "drag performance." Mykki Blanco places a lot of emphasis on his music videos and art performances, often taking complex and fresh new takes on his ever-moving aesthetic, and is constantly trying out new looks and performances just as genre-defying as his musical style.
In June 2015, Blanco revealed via his Facebook page that he has been HIV positive since 2011. Blanco initially worried that being HIV positive would be detrimental to his career, saying of the decision to make finally that information public, "I did it for myself. At a certain point, my real life has to be more important than this career." He made this information public via Facebook during Pride season. Over 12,000 users liked the post and over 700 shared it. Through coming out with this hard-hitting information, Blanco says that he feels like a good person when he hasn't felt that way in a long time.
Mykki Blanco says that prior to coming out as HIV positive, he thought he might not continue his musical career in the future. Blanco expressed concern that the music industry would shut him down because of his public announcement: "I thought when I came out that was going to be the end," he says. "Mykki Blanco is fun. Talking about HIV is not fun. How could I be fun and have HIV?" He mentions that during that time period he had made plans to become an investigative journalist to report on LGBT issues on a global scale, yet that the flood of positive reactions in response to his coming out as HIV positive have made him determined to continue his artistry.
Mykki Blanco at first identified as a trans woman, but ultimately declared that he has just been a feminine cis gay male. However, he has remained a transgender rights activist and has supported the trans community ever since.
- Mykki (2016)
- Stay Close to Music, Stay Close to God (2019)
- Mykki Blanco & the Mutant Angels (2012)
- Betty Rubble: The Initiation (2013)
- Spring/Summer 2014 (2014)
- Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss (2012)
- Gay Dog Food (2014)
- White Pelle Pelle (2015)
|"Head Is a Stone"||2012||Mykki Blanco & the Mutant Angels|
|"Wavvy"||Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss|
|"Join My Militia"||2012||Mitch Moore|
|"Head Is a Stone"||Nick Hooker|
|"Feeling Special"||Danny Sangra|
|"The Initiation"||Ninian Doff|
|"She Gutta"||2014||Jude MC|
|"High School Never Ends"||2016||Matt Lambert|
- From the Silence of Duchamp to the Noise of Boys (2011)