Britain's out hip-hop "stud" dishes on music and gender, and makes up completely rethink the game of chess
Mz Fontaine, the UK’s “first out lesbian rapper,” according to Time Out UK, is the most exciting British import since metrosexual power couple David Beckham and Posh Spice took New York by storm. Call her “Mz” please, because she is neither a Mister nor a Ms. And “Fontaine,” which is French for fountain, refers slyly to her prolific abilities to produce bass-heavy hooks as effortlessly as turning on a faucet. Despite her gangsta image, Mz Fontaine is as warm and gentle as her Guyanese-inflected British accent. In the rich tradition of gender-bending rockers like David Bowie and Annie Lennox, Mz Fontaine’s masculine appearance often triggers open speculation.
“Audiences sometimes are not quite ready for me and don’t know whether I am a boy or girl,” Mz Fontaine explained, “but when I sing “Wavin' Da Flag,” which is a gay rights anthem, with me waving the rainbow flag on stage, then they get it.”
Growing up as a tomboy in Guyana, a Catholic-dominated country in South America with a firm sense of machismo, Mz Fontaine loved climbing trees, especially to escape trouble. During this challenging time, Mz Fontaine always had her musical gift to rely on. “My mom was a huge musical influence for me and I remember singing at age 3 or 4.” When she was 12, her older sister helped her emigrate to the UK. While attending an all girls school, Mz Fontaine recalled that she “knew [she] was different”. She even confided in her sister that she was attracted to girls.
Luckily Mz Fontaine found local gay youth groups to explore her emerging sexuality and began pursuing women and music, not necessarily in that order, with unadulterated ambition. Evidence of a childhood spent listening to Pasty Cline, Michael Jackson, and MC Lyte can be found on both of her albums, New Era and Spoken Thoughts. These days Missy Elliot’s oeuvre inspires Mz Fontaine’s rhymes.
She has even recorded a cheeky version of Missy Elliott’s “Pass That Dutch,” entitled “Pass Dat Crutch,” and has said she would love to collaborate with Elliott. Fontaine is also a big fan of Lil’ Kim and imagines that they could produce incredibly hot and nasty rhymes together.
Although Mz Fontaine is often asked to leave women’s restrooms when other women mistake her for a man, she does not identify as butch. “Nah, I am a ‘female stud,’ a boyish ‘gentlewoman.’ I am feminine too.” However, don’t expect Mz Fontaine to raid Lil’ Kim’s closet for pasties and a bedazzled g-string—this female stud prefers boxers.
Mz Fontaine also lends gender ambiguity to her songs. Her new single, “Tick Tock,” covers territory familiar to hip-hop—a masculine narrator detailing her sexual prowess while exalting a prospective conquest’s body. Unlike most rap singles, “Tick Tock” has a steady flow and a danceable, hypnotic beat that pulls club goers onto the dance floor.
Hip-hop and techno fans will enjoy Mz Fontaine’s “Street Dreamz,” which serves up bouncy rhymes on top of the Eurythmics’ classic 1983 hit, “Sweet Dreams.” “Street Dreamz” is a slick, textured work that vamps up the harmonies of the original track.
Recently, Mz Fontaine entertained the lady fanciers of London at Euro Pride with rousing renditions of her playful rhymes, which are delivered with hints of Reggaeton. However, she is not only limited to London. Mz Fontaine performs on both sides of the pond and loves New York and its beautiful femmes. “The women are so well put together [in New York]. They look like they put more effort in looking good than [femmes in the UK].”
Indeed, much of her charm is a playful sexual braggadocio with lyrics such as “play your G-Spot like chess.” When I asked her to clue me in, “boi to boi,” on what “playing a G-Spot like chess” entails, she paused momentarily and quipped, “Chess is a long [game]. It is very strategic, involving lots of concentration.”
Despite her gangsta-stud image, she is an ardent supporter of the fight for LGBT rights. Mz Fontaine appears in a new documentary series, Gay to Z, for the UK’s Channel 4 Education to raise awareness for LGBT issues, including homophobia and school bullying. By speaking candidly about being harassed as a young Guyanese tomboy in the UK school system, she hopes to prevent other kids from having the same experience.
Mz Fontaine’s new single, “Tick Tock,” and upcoming album, Spoken Thoughts, are available at mzfontaine.com. Hot femmes are directed to her MySpace page at myspace.com/mzfontz