Photo Courtesy of Mykki Blanco via Vogue
Photo Courtesy of Mykki Blanco via Vogue

Rapper, poet, performance artist, and activist Mykki Blanco has always lived a life less ordinary. Born in Orange County, California, to African-American parents before moving to North Carolina, at 15 they won an Independent Spirit Award for their work with the collective Paint In Consciousness Experimental Theatre. At 16, they wrote to actor and director Vincent Gallo asking for advice about moving to New York; “Don’t come,” Gallo wrote back. Ignoring his guidance, Blanco ran away to the city before winning two prestigious art school scholarships. They didn’t complete either but instead devoted their time to publishing poetry, painting, and photography.

In 2010, they created rap alter ego Mykki Blanco and has since released the amazing single Wavvy, three EPs, two mixtapes, and, in 2016, their extraordinary debut album Mykki. They have collaborated with artists such as Le1f, Charli XCX, Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna, Kanye West (on West’s discarded album Yandhi), and singer-songwriter Teyana Taylor. In 2019, Blanco collaborated with Madonna on the visuals for her Dark Ballet music video, which featured Blanco as Joan of Arc. Last month, they featured alongside GESS on Shea Couleé’s beautifully arresting Collide, also appearing on experimental London duo God Colony’s new single, Rebel Boy Soldier, out 10 July. Blanco is currently living in Portugal and working on their second album.

Consistently advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and recognition, and HIV awareness, Blanco publicly announced they are HIV positive in 2015 — the first rapper to do so since Eazy-E in 1995 — and began transitioning in 2019, sparking important and necessary conversation around intersectionality, gender, identity and health.

In a diary written exclusively for Vogue, Blanco contemplates the end of their relationship, the beauty and freedom in being black and trans, and the urgent need for collective and individual introspection to tear down the pillars of structural and hierarchical racism.

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