Mister Wallace is the ultimate multi-hyphenate: a rapper-singer-dancer-executive-dj-artist-actor-model. Soon Erik Lamar Wallace II will expand that list into new forms of visual media, including television director and fashion merchandiser for their record label and media platform, FUTUREHOOD.
The fearless Chicago-based iconoclast—who has been featured in Fader and dubbed their debut EP Faggot—combines dance-demanding beats with a broad-spectrum embrace of queer culture, a practice equally marked by joyful sybaritism and social consciousness. Mister Wallace is perfectly representative of art in 2018: radical, independent, non-heteronormative (Mister Wallace uses they/them pronouns), socially aware and rightly, righteously powered by it. A Beautiful Perspective caught up with Mister Wallace in Chicago’s Logan Square and tasked them with the brutal challenge of representing themselves through five chosen works.
1. Hair Story Theme
“When I was a kid, I always saw myself writing theme songs or jingles or advertising,” Mister Wallace says. They got the chance with Hair Story, a TV series loosely based on Mister Wallace’s life (they play the character Curtis) developed by OTV, a Chicago-based platform for intersectional TV series and pilots. The theme song, produced by DJ Phil, marries classic sitcom aspiration with a dark, woozy wobble.
“It reminds me of the spirit of the TV shows that I was inspired by growing up,” Mister Wallace says. “Specifically, Living Single, Golden Girls and Proud Family.” The track also gave them a chance to continue working with their singing voice. Hair Story is currently in the process of securing grants and a residency to finish out production. “Deep down, I’m a filmmaker,” Mister Wallace says. “And that’s why I like this project; that’s why I like writing part of Hair Story, and writing this character, and writing this theme song.”
This cut off Faggot carries a special place in Mister Wallace’s heart. “The track is super bubbly, it’s super fun,” Mister Wallace says. “I’ve had people say it could be on the radio if it wasn’t for some of the lyrical content and the censoring we are subject to.” But rather than pumping out of car stereos, this sparkling, luxe bop serves as a soundtrack to something far more important.
“I’ve had a lot of transwomen tell me how important the song has been for them,” Mister Wallace says. “Because the chorus is ‘whoremoan, let me take my hormone;’ it’s a play on words, but a lot of transwomen have told me they’ve actually taken their hormones to the track, just being empowered by the song and really empowered in their gender identity as well.”
“I wrote this really personal rap ballad basically summing up the Faggot EP,” Mister Wallace says of the track, released alongside a color-blocked video dripping in editorial flair. “The whole point of the Faggot EP was to give a fun and positive reference to the word ‘faggot,’ so if a young person like myself was growing up and heard that word thrown at them, they could fight back and be like, ‘Well, I just found this rapper who put out this EP called Faggot in 2016 and they’re dope as fuck, so, fuck you,’” Mister Wallace laughs.
4. The Rogue Transmission
This hour-long program created for WHPK 88.5 FM‘s Central Air Radio features the artists of FUTUREHOOD, Wallace’s record label/artist collective/media platform. aCeb00mbaP, one of Mister Wallace’s collaborators in rap collective Banjee Report, decided to go H.G. Wells with it.
The result is an outer space transmission from the FUTUREHOOD crew delivered via mysterious cosmic beeper, an effort to transmit their vibes to an Earth desperately in need of them. A variety of FUTUREHOOD artists answer broadly posed questions through their music, maintaining the interview format in a novel way. Through this creative framework and the showcasing of their collaborators, the show is indicative of the inclusivity and creativity that FUTUREHOOD is all about.
“I kind of want to cheat with this last one,” Mister Wallace says. FUTUREHOOD’s website is the beginning of the media platform Mister Wallace is hoping to build. It has all the info on the label’s artists and releases, including Chae Buttah’s video “Jet Beauty of the Week,” recently featured in Paper, and new albums by Roy Kinsey and Rozay Labeia.
For Mister Wallace, the site goes beyond business; it shines a light on artists who may not see much love in the world around them, and could serve as a beacon to others looking for affirmation and representation in their art, a canon that has been lacking for too long.
“We are building,” Mister Wallace says. “And we will create a generation of kids that does have this, and I can’t wait to see what they will create. That is exactly what I’m trying to inspire.”
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