Black Sheep is Cakes Da Killa’s most danceable album yet

Black Sheep is Cakes Da Killa’s most danceable album yet”>

Cakes Da Killa. Photo by Ebru Yildiz


The club on Saturday is like church on Sunday for those willing to live and love with abandon. Cakes Da Killa surely numbers among the faithful, these devotees to the riddims and nocturnes of the discotheque. The New Jersey-via-New York MC has always been more than capable of rapping circles around anybody, bars cartwheeling and catwalking across the pocket with ease. That hasn’t changed, but he has undergone a minor metamorphosis. Previously, Cakes Da Killa came across as the coolest guy at the ball, draped in designer, surrounded by strapping young concubines. On Black Sheep, out today, he’s no longer satisfied with the spoils of splaying out in VIP: he wants to run the decks and make you sweat.

Cakes Da Killa’s third album is irresistible dance music in the vein of Kylie Minogue or KAYTRANADA — if a baby heard these beats, they would giggle and shake their limbs. Produced entirely by Sam Katz, Black Sheep shimmers, gleams, pulses and throbs. Katz is a frequent collaborator who also helmed 2022’s Svengali, but that record was mellower and more introspective. Here, he constructs a chain of groovy ass beats, a carnival funhouse of techno and house music sublimely suited to Cakes’s riptide revelry.

There’s the castanet-esque clatter of “Make Me Ovah” and the sweet-and-sour stomp of “Global Entry;” the boomingly methodical “Crushin In Da Club” and the subdued shuffle of “Four Play.” Tempos pump up and slow down as Katz and Cakes tease out a different bounce for each track. Pick an activity — buying shots for the squad, buying shots for a shorty, cutting a rug in the crowd, cutting lines in a stall — Black Sheep has a song that fits the bill.

While this record is first and foremost fun, these songs are also acutely aware of their forebears. Cakes Da Killa plants his flag early on jangling album intro “It’s a Luv Thing,” spitting “techno, dance and house is black music.” Cakes’s emphasis on hip-hop as dance music brings to mind the snap revivalism of TisaKorean or the clap-driven chaos of Milwaukee rap; I’d be remiss not to note that CupcakKe fans should adore this record. Ill-informed pop aficionados might draw a connection to Beyoncé’s Renaissance, but if you absolutely had to put Cakes in a box, his infectious love of the club more quickly recalls the ghettotech fireworks of HiTech or the flamboyant footwork of TekLife. That’s due less to sonic similarity and more to ideological purity: like Milf Melly or DJ Paypal, Cakes Da Killa is focused on dance music’s present, rather than its past.

But what really makes Black Sheep work is its earnest commitment. Plenty of MCs treat sex as a means rather than an end — NLE Choppa and Sexyy Red aside, rappers seem to love oral primarily as a vector for power play. By contrast, Cakes Da Killa embodies a genuine desire, unabashed and forthright. It’s the difference between posting a thirst trap and texting it to the intended target — the former is pussy, the latter is cunt. And when it comes to getting what he wants, Cakes Da Killa will never be scared.