Mykki Blanco has been at the center of conversations surrounding hip-hop and queerness since 2012, but two years ago, the gender non-conforming rapper announced a hiatus from music to pursue investigative journalism. Fortunately for fans, Blanco still dropped three projects after the announcement: The industrial, punk-inflected Mykki Blanco and the Mutant Angels; the experimental compilation C-ORE, which featured tracks by Yves Tumor and Psychoegyptian; and the self-titled 2016 album Mykki, a psychedelic patchwork of tracks with a pop-trap backbone.
But Blanco has kept busy with other creative endeavors: His new mini-documentary series on i-D, Out of This World, shines a light on queer communities around the world, with a debut episode about Johannesburg, South Africa. He's also finally unveiling a short film in which he starred in 2015, No Leash, which was commissioned by the high-end streetwear brand Hood By Air and directed by Cody Critcheloe of the band SSION.
Hood By Air had previously halted the film; Blanco says it was shelved for two years because of funding issues. But tonight, Oct. 19, No Leash -- screened previously only twice, in New York and London -- makes its West Coast debut at Starline Social Club, followed by a performance by Blanco with support from Berkeley electro-pop singer Ah Mer Ah Su and performance artist Davia Spain. (The show is a bit of a homecoming for Blanco, who is originally from San Mateo.)
"The film was unfinished for two years and went into, kind of like, a vault," Blanco tells KQED Arts in a phone interview. "It resurfaced this year and we were like, 'We have to put this out!'"